William Shatner, ‘Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, is opening up about his decades-long friendship with fellow ‘Star Trek’ icon, the late Leonard Nimoy, forever enshrined in pop culture as Mr. Spook. A year after his friend’s death, he has published a memoir and is speaking out about the feud and the rift that separated them in the final years.
It was beyond mere typecasting; despite all their subsequent endeavors in a variety of disciplines — the late Leonard Nimoy, for instance, was also a film director, photographer, poet and singer — to this day, we think of them in those roles. The ‘Star Trek’ franchise created by the late Gene Roddenberry,enters its 50th year and it’s gone through multiple generations, iterations and casting changes, but it all began on television in 1966.
The chemistry of the actors portraying these iconic characters, the cool, unemotional Vulcan Mr. Spock and the undeniably human and often impulsive Captain Kirk, was always palpable, and they were friends for many years. We are hearing the now-84-year-old William Shatner’s side of the story, as he has penned a memoir, “Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man” that’s being published a year after his friend’s death.
Yes, a year has gone by since we lost the legendary actor, who died at age 83 after battling COPD, and while people worldwide, celebrities, public figures, and fans alike paid tribute, William Shatner drew attention and criticism as well over the sideline drama, generated through his multiple Tweets, of his decision to not attend the funeral so as to keep a fundraising commitment to the Red Cross.
He has been giving a number of interviews opening up and elaborating upon what he has said in the book. He spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the man that he is calling “the only friend I ever had.” He said of that, “It’s difficult when you have a measure of celebrity because you can’t help but think that’s why people are being friendly.”
He went on to say, “Also the nature of the work — on a movie, a play, a series — it’s over and everyone goes their own way and you’re the best of friends during that moment. You’ll sit around a set and talk, and you’re best friends forever. Then the event is over and you’re gone — everyone has gone their separate ways.”
But not the case, he reveals with Leonard Nimoy. He said, “The structure changed that dynamic in Star Trek in that it was canceled and nobody saw each other, but then slowly the movies began and then we did six movies together. And then there were the personal appearances … and suddenly we were back in each other’s worlds on and off for years and years, and that propelled the friendship between Leonard and I.”
William Shatner also opened up about the rift that separated them in Leonard Nimoy’s final years which, he told THR, he believed was over a movie that the latter refused to participate in. As the story goes, according to Shatner’s account in the book (via JSonline) that movie was his 2011 documentary ‘The Captains’ which profiled various actors who portrayed star ship captains in the various ‘Star Trek’ TV series and movies.
Reflecting, he said of it, “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.”
Shatner goes on to add, “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.”
In an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive, he was asked what he thought Nimoy whould think of the book and he said, “What an interesting question that is.” He went on to say, “The book is about my caring about him, and admiring him and his work..There’s nothing detrimental. It’s all salutary.”
The book is has drawn much attention and mixed reviews. Shatner has faced some criticism of his memoir and assertions from some that he’s capitalizing off of the death of his friend. A critic for The Washington Post, does give him a pass on that, noting: “But Shatner’s regret over his mysterious falling out with Nimoy suggests what this book really is: a goodbye, the literary equivalent of that scene in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982) when Kirk and a dying Spock say farewell by placing their hands against a pane of glass.”
Many fans will remember that iconic scene. Sadly, this being real life, and not the universe of ‘Star Trek’ there is no sequel movie with a happy ending.