The 50-years-long-and-going feud between the Star Trek stars has George Takei taking pot shots, yet again. If you’re keeping score, you know William Shatner will not be far behind with his return jabs. At the opening of ‘Thoughts of a Colored Man’ on Wednesday night, Takei was asked by ‘Page Six’ what he thought of Bill’s brief space flight.
“He’s boldly going where other people have gone before. He’s a guinea pig, 90 years old and it’s important to find out what happens.” The 84 years young actor continued, “So 90 years old is going to show a great deal more on the wear and tear on the human body, so he’ll be a good specimen to study. Although he’s not the fittest specimen of 90 years old, so he’ll be a specimen that’s unfit!”
The feud would be more palatable if we could see it in a Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau Grumpy Old Men, or Spacemen, if you will, but the feud began in a century far, far away. George Takei says it initially began with Shatner’s jealousy of Leonard Nimoy’s Spock role garnered more attention from fans than Captain Kirk.
George Takei was recently interviewed on the podcast ‘David Tennant Does a Podcast With…,’ and explained, “It got more and more intense. How do I put it? It began from the TV series. There was one character whose charisma and whose mystery was like a magnet. It was Spock, the strange alien with pointy ears. That intrigued the audience and women thought ‘I’m the one who can arouse him.’ His fan letters were this many, and Leonard’s were that many, and that created a tension, that insecurity [within Shatner].”
He also alleges that the feud remains because of William Shatner. “It’s all coming from Bill. Whenever he needs a little publicity for a project, he pumps up the so-called controversy between us.”
Bill took to Twitter to respond to the fan letter tale, telling his side.”George needs a new hobby. Now he’s making things up. We never saw fan letters. That’s why there’s so many secretary signed photos. We barely saw George. He was in once a week at most-how would he know anything? The only person with jealousy is George.”
The back and forth is never-ending. Takei responded to the tweet saying, “Well, you can tell by those words that he is upset, to put it mildly.” Takei continues, “All that is bile. He’s had that same kind of relationship with everybody.” And if he’s said it once, he’s said it a thousand times, “Jimmy Doohan [co-star James Doohan – Scotty] used to rail at Star Trek conventions about Bill and the latest offense that he committed on him,” Takei says. “Every one of us had experiences. In terms of Bill Shatner, I go by (Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader) Ginsburg’s advice. Sometimes it helps to be deaf in a marriage.”
Shatner does admit there were tensions between Nimoy and himself in his book, ‘Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man.’ Speaking to THR, when asked if he and Nimoy shared responsibility for the tensions.
“I think so. Nothing is ever one person’s fault – one hand clapping doesn’t make a sound. I’ve got to think that Leonard had his chance and he was single-minded about on maintaining that. And at the same time he had created a unique character with Spock, and it’s a beautiful example of an actor bringing pieces of his own life to bear on a character that he’s playing. When I realized that, I found that admirable. I was filled with admiration for Leonard on many levels. His intelligence and his creativity and his passions and his focus as an actor.
“So yes, I would think that any clashes that we had in the beginning … you know it was so long ago that I am forced to try and re-create what fireworks that might have been. I don’t remember any fireworks, I remember going to the producers and wondering whether they were going to change the thrust of the show as a result of the popularity of Spock. So my anxieties were never directed at Leonard per say, it was about “How was the show going to go?”
But he also admits in the book that Nimoy refused to speak to him at the ens of his life. “I don’t know. I thought he was joking at first and treated it as a joke because he sometimes would pretend and say, “No, I’m not going to do that” and then say, “yes,” so that’s what I thought he did. (Laughs.) But that time he really meant, no. … I just don’t know, and it is sad and it is permanent. I don’t know why he stopped talking to me.”
The feud has been churning since 1966; I think it’s fair to say both will hold onto it until the final frontier. Though their behavior has been a through line since the show’s inception, I’m delighted that the message of unity, acceptance, community and looking towards the future has not been tarnished. Live long and prosper, folks! That goes for you too, you Grumpy Old Spacemen.