Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek was considered a pioneering effort among television shows as early as the 1960s. The space adventure series which made William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy household names through their characters Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock respectively, is still considered one of the evergreen cult classics today.
Apart from Shatner and Nimoy being front and center in the show, the unique feature of Roddenberry’s narrative was the equal importance given to all characters in the script by creating equal opportunity for them to shine in special episodes written entirely for them. When the two principal actors protested about the focus being shifted away from them, Roddenberry firmly put them in their place through a scathing letter.
How Star Trek Actors William Shatner And Leonard Nimoy Learnt A Valuable Lesson
The 1960s television series Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry, set the standards for television shows all over the world through its exciting futuristic narrative. The show also made William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy bonafide stars including other actors like George Takei and James Doohan. The unique feature of Star Trek was the importance given to each character who was the protagonist of his or her own special episode in the series.
This move though, was not appreciated by Shatner and Nimoy who felt that they were the principal stars of the show and deserve more recognition than the other cast members. When they expressed their views about this egalitarian approach to the episodes, Gene Roddenberry responded in scathing fashion through a letter that admonished the Captain Kirk actor and the Mr.Spock star. In the letter that is quoted in Slash Film, Roddenberry addressed Shatner and Nimoy saying,
“Toss these pages in the air if you like, stomp off and be angry, it doesn’t mean that much since you’ve driven me to the edge of not giving a damn. […] No, William, I’m not really writing this to Leonard and just including you as a matter of psychology. I’m talking to you directly and with an angry honesty you haven’t heard before. And Leonard, you’d be very wrong if you think I’m really teeing off at Shatner and only pretending to include you. The same letter to both; you’ve pretty well divided up the market on selfishness and egocentricity.”
Apart from this direct backlash that both Shatner and Nimoy received, reports from the Star Trek sets also indicated that the You can call me Bill star did not endear himself to his co-stars while also causing many obstacles and difficulties during the filming of the show.
William Shatner’s Star Trek Co-Stars Exposed His Self- Indulgent Nature
Through Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s caustic letter to William Shatner, it was clear that the Captain Kirk actor had hierarchical issues on set which included not getting along with his other co-stars. Over the years, a few of his co-actors including James Doohan, have openly spoken about Shatner’s high-handed and egotistical nature on set. Doohan who played Scotty in the series, admitted that while he liked the character of Captain Kirk, he believed Shatner to be insecure and selfish when it came to projecting himself on screen.
Meanwhile, Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov, revealed that the veteran actor was fun and civil to all but was obsessed with making sure that the camera almost always focused on him in every scene. Possibly the most hostile relationship that Shatner had, was with George Takei, with whom he exchanged harsh words many times during the course of their careers. Takei confessed that despite the star being a wonderful actor, he was not a team player and hence, was unable to get along with anyone on set.
Source: Slash Film,