While “Star Trek” fans like to imagine the crews of their favorite starships getting along as famously off-screen as they appear to when the cameras are rolling, it just isn’t always true. In particular, George Takei and William Shatner have famously not gotten along for years.
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On Friday’s “Real Time,” Takei spoke with Bill Maher about it, and he didn’t shy away from saying what he thought about the original Captain Kirk. “He is Canadian. And Canadians have a certain image of being even-tempered and friendly and all that,” Takei said of Shatner. “Well, he is a person who is that way … with himself. He is very self-centered.”
He said that the men are both professionals and so they are able to get the work done. “But, it’s with a lot of difficulty,” he conceded.
Maher mixed his “Star” franchises by saying, “It’s not like you’re going to drive the ship into a Death Star just to spite him.”
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“The temptation is there,” Takei said.
When the conversation switched to the issue of gay rights, Takei said that almost the entire cast and crew of “Star Trek” knew during the show’s original run in the late 1960s that he was gay. “Except for one member of the cast. It went right over his head,” he laughed, indicating Shatner.
Takei also talked about his attempts to bring gay issues onto “Star Trek.” Series creator Gene Roddenberry had already addressed several social issues from the time through the use of alien races and metaphor. However, Takei said Roddenberry was always skirting the line, wary of the repercussions.
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“He said that if we push the envelope too far, then he wouldn’t be able to deal with any issues at all,” Takei said. He then cited the famous interracial kiss between Shatner and Nichelle Nichols, pointing out that the show was blacked out in the South, tanking the ratings, making Roddenberry even more nervous.
While he was disappointed, Takei had to concede that he understood Roddenberry’s point of view in that moment.