According to William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy was one of the best friends that he ever had. However, in the years leading up to the latter figure’s death, the two performers weren’t on speaking terms! It seems that the reason the two Star Trek stars fell out was a trivial matter involving a made-for-television documentary that was released in 2011. Leonard passed away in 2015, and William didn’t even make it to the funeral! Join Facts Verse as we explore how Leonard Nimoy’s death left William Shatner full of regret.
William Shatner Misses Leonard Nimoy
At 91 years of age, Star Trek actor William Shatner has experienced a great deal over the course of his lifetime. In fact, the actor just recently made a successful trip into space thanks to Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Despite all that William has accomplished in his life, there are few things that have left quite as profound an impact on the star as his longtime friendship with the late Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was William’s costar on the original Star Trek series. At first, they were rivals because their two characters were always competing for the audience’s attention. However, over the course of the show’s production, they became great friends.
William’s friendship with the late Leonard Nimoy remains one of the actor’s favorite things to talk about. According to William himself, he didn’t know what true friendship was until he developed his unlikely bond with Leonard over the course of Star Trek’s production. Over the course of his career, William claims that he has made numerous great friends on the sets of films and television series. However, he says that none of these friendships have had the same longevity and impact that his friendship with Leonard did.
Despite the fact that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were apparently the best of friends for decades following the filming of the original Star Trek series, they appear to have had a significant falling out during the final years of the latter figure’s life. According to William, he was at first unsure why his longtime friend had blocked him out of his life. However, the star later came to the realization that Leonard had been upset over William filming him without his consent for a made-for-television documentary. In 2011, William Shatner released a made-for-television documentary called The Captains. It revolved around all the different captains that had been featured on the various Star Trek series.
Why Did Leonard Hold a Grudge?
Apparently, William Shatner filmed longtime friend Leonard Nimoy without his permission during the production of The Captains. This then offended the latter figure so much that he never talked to his former friend again. Leonard had seemed angry once he realized he was being filmed for the Captains, but William claims that he initially thought his old friend was just joking. When William later realized that Leonard had truly been offended by the incident to the point where he no longer wanted to be his friend, he was in shock!
Although William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy weren’t on speaking terms towards the end of the latter figures life, the two were still friends for many years. Upon Leonard’s passing, William wrote a book dedicated to his late friend. Many found the release of the book opportunistic, especially considering that William and Leonard hadn’t spoken in around five years prior to Leonard’s death. However, William certainly had plenty of interesting experiences with Leonard that were worth sharing, regardless of how their friendship ended. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were born mere days apart, though they didn’t meet for the first time until working together on an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The episode aired in 1964. The next year, Leonard Nimoy was cast in a pilot for a show created by Gene Rodenberry. Of course, that show would turn out to be Star Trek.
Those who know their television history will be aware that the pilot episode of Star Trek didn’t feature William Shatner. In fact, the pilot episode didn’t feature any of the resulting series’ main cast members outside of Leonard Nimoy himself. The pilot had been a failure, and the show was retooled to appeal more to audiences. Upon this retooling, the majority of the cast of the pilot was replaced.
The only actor that ended up being carried over from Star Trek’s pilot episode to the series was Leonard Nimoy. Legend has it that William Shatner secured his role on the series after suggesting to Gene Roddenberry that the pilot had too serious of a tone. William believed that he could add some smiles to the science-fiction show, and Gene ended up hiring him. The rest is history!
Leonard Nimoy was Star Trek’s Biggest Star
Despite the original pilot for Star Trek being the most expensive that had ever been produced up until that time, the executives hated it. Gene Rodenberry replaced the pilot’s entire cast with the exception of Leonard Nimoy, and the new pilot ended up being successful enough to start a series. Few could’ve predicted just what a major phenomenon Star Trek was going to become! Leonard Nimoy played the character of Spock, who was a human-alien hybrid. When seeking out actors to portray the character, Gene Roddenberry allegedly put out an ad for performers that looked like Abraham Lincoln.
When it came time to bring the character of Spock to life on the screen, Leonard Nimoy took a good deal of influence from the hit 1950s science-fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still. In that film, a benevolent alien comes to Earth to warn of an impending nuclear apocalypse. When one combines the influences of Abraham Lincoln and The Day the Earth Stood Still, it’s easy to see where Leonard Nimoy was going with his character! The last strange influence that the late Leonard claimed he had when bringing the character of Spock to life was Harry Belafonte. According to Leonard, the actor had seen the calypso singer in concert and been in awe at how much he could convey with minimal movement. Leonard claimed that Harry kept very still, and that the audience cheered whenever he would raise a hand.
Besides all of these external influences, Leonard Nimoy also brought a good deal of his own personal consideration to his portrayal of Spock. The character of Spock had a significant internal conflict due to his origins as a human-alien hybrid. The alien side of Spock always wanted to be logical and calculating, which came in contrast to the odd character’s more emotional human side. This emotional side was kept in check more often that not by Spock’s alien brain. Audiences grew to love the character of Spock. Though it was William Shatner who played Star Trek’s captain, it was Spock who proved the audience’s favorite character. William allegedly grew jealous when Leonard started to get more fan mail than him. The two became rivals, but this rivalry wouldn’t last.
How William Got Back at Leonard
According to William Shatner, there was a time when he and Leonard Nimoy were eating lunch and John Wayne approached them. John Wayne recognized Leonard, but he didn’t know who William was. Stuff like this significantly added to William’s professional jealousy. Before the two became friends, William would play pranks on Leonard to get back at the more popular performer. Many of these pranks apparently saw William hide the bicycle that Leonard used to get around the studio lot in various locations that the actor couldn’t get to. This led to Leonard driving his car on to the studio lot and locking his bicycle inside of it.
Though William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were initially at odds with each other on the set of the original Star Trek, they went on to develop a very close bond. They found that they had more common interests than they had realized. It seems the moment where Leonard first won William’s respect was when the former figure walked off the set after getting into a dispute with Gene Roddenberry. Leonard had asked Gene for permission to leave the set early so that he could go to a promotional event. Gene gave Leonard the okay on the condition that he give him 20% of whatever fee he was going to get for attending. Leonard said no, but left anyways.
William Shatner thought that Leonard standing his ground was pretty cool, and the two became buds after that. Eventually, the two were negotiating their contracts together in an effort to ensure that they were both being treated as good as possible by the studio. After Star Trek came to an end, William and Leonard only grew closer as a result of attending conventions together over the ensuing decades.
William and Leonard Remained Great Friend for Decades
In the 1990s, William Shatner’s wife was having some problems with alcohol. Leonard Nimoy was a recovering alcoholic, and he offered his services to help get the woman through the issue. Sadly, Leonard wasn’t able to help William’s wife overcome her alcoholism. Nerine Kidd was William’s third wife, and the two married in 1997. In 1999, Nerine drowned in a pool as a result of her alcoholism. Leonard had failed at saving William’s wife, but he was still there for the actor in the wake of the tragedy. William claims that Leonard helped him out a great deal as he was attempting to come to terms with the tragic incident.
After Leonard Nimoy’s death in 2015, William Shatner had become so estranged from his late longtime friend in the preceding years that he didn’t even attend the funeral. This comes in spite of the fact that, only several years before, they had considered each other the best of friends. William desperately tried to get in touch with Leonard in the latter figure’s final days, though Leonard wasn’t having it.
After Leonard Nimoy’s death, his daughter contacted William Shatner and said that her late father loved him very much. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy negotiated their contracts together on the set of Star Trek, and that the two stars didn’t speak for years leading up to Leonard’s 2015 death?