One of the dramatic and emotional moments in all of Star Trek canon is the death of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. However, the moment has been somewhat tainted for William Shatner, one of the key actors in that scene.
Spock died sacrificing himself to save the Enterprise from the villain Khan, only to be resurrected in the sequel, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
Shatner didn’t know that was the plan at the
“I believe it was all planned — I now believe (Nimoy) and Harve cooked this up,” Shatner tells USA Today in advance of Wrath of Khan’s return to theaters for its 35th anniversary. “I suddenly realized that I, as well as many other people, had been taken in by the death of Spock. Leonard was so marvelous at working the territory that he got a directing job out of it.”
Being out of the loop, or at least believing he was, meant that Shatner believed he was saying goodbye to Nimoy in that scene, and that it would be the last time he worked with his friend on Star Trek.
"I was thinking my good friend Nimoy is, in essence, saying goodbye to the whole part," Shatner says. "No one told me they were thinking otherwise."
Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer disputes Shatner’s theory, saying that the plan to kill Spock was a way of drawing Nimoy back for a final performance in Star Trek II.
“Here’s what happened," Meyer says. "Leonard was very ambivalent about doing another Star Trek movie. And Harve Bennett lured him with the promise of a terrific death scene, which (Shatner) and he played so touchingly.”
However, the critical and fan acclaim for Wrath of Khan changed a lot of minds about Star Trek’s future, and so the plan to resurrect Spock was formulated.
“Leonard was starting to feel really good (about the movie) and was thinking whether he was making some kind of a mistake,” says Meyer. “I fought it. I thought it was unforgivable to take people who were so wrapped up in this character and sort of dry hustle them and then say, ‘Oh, we were just kidding.' But in the end, it was a battle that I lost.
“In retrospect, they were right, and I was wrong.”
Whether it was the original plan was to resurrect Spock or not, Nimoy did get to direct the sequel. Shatner doesn't have any hard feelings about it towards Nimoy, who died in 2015. After all, Shatner got his turn to direct with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. However, he does wish someone would have enlightened him before hand.
“I would have enjoyed being in on it,” Shatner says. “I get the secrecy. But it’s all great.”
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan returns to theaters on Sept. 10 and Sept. 13, 2017.