William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy rivalry sparked by fan letter jealousy, claims George Takei

Adam White
·2 min read
Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in the original 'Star Trek' TV series (CBS)
Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in the original 'Star Trek' TV series (CBS)

The rivalry between Star Trek actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy was sparked by jealousy over their fan letters, George Takei has claimed.

While appearing on David Tennant’s celebrity interview podcast, David Tennant Does a Podcast With..., Sulu actor Takei alleged that the cast of the original Star Trek TV series all got along apart from Shatner, with Takei confirming that it often felt like “William Shatner versus the rest of the world”.

“It got more and more intense,” Takei recalled. “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 an insecurity [in Shatner].”

He continued: “Movie-making, TV-making, theatre-making is all about collaborative teamwork. A good actor knows that the scene works when there’s that dynamic going on with the cast. Some actors seem to feel that it’s a one-man show. That’s the source of some tensions.”

In 2016, Shatner confirmed that he had gone to the Star Trek producers with concerns about Spock’s popularity, and expressed worry that his character, Captain Kirk, may be phased out as a result.

“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,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “So my anxieties were never directed at Leonard per se, it was about ‘How was the show going to go?’”

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in the original ‘Star Trek’ TV seriesCBS
Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner in the original ‘Star Trek’ TV seriesCBS

Shatner also revealed that, despite the pair mending amends in the wake of the original Star Trek, Nimoy stopped speaking to him in the years prior to his death in 2015, and that Shatner did not know why.

Takei played Sulu in the original Star Trek series, along with several movie spin-offs and a cameo on the sequel series Star Trek: Voyager.

David Tennant Does A Podcast With... is available on Apple, Spotify and all podcast providers.

Read more

Sean Connery turns 90 – but why did he retire from acting?

Sheridan Smith says she was ‘humiliated’ after Graham Norton joke

Bruce Hornsby: ‘My entire class cheered when Kennedy was assassinated’