Star Trek: George Takei Opens Up About Tensions on Original Series Set

It is no secret that the cast of the original Star Trek didn't always get along. William Shatner's rivalry with George Takei has come into the public sphere more than once. Now Takei is opening up about the root of the tensions on the show's set. Takei was a guest on the latest episode of David Tennant's podcast, David Tennant Does a Podcast. During the conversation, which made the host want to join the Star Trek universe, Takei explained that tensions arose when Leonard Nimoy as Spock became more popular than Shatner as Captain Kirk. "It got more and more intense," Takei says. "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."

Takei went on to say that the rest of the cast got along well. "You know, movie-making, TV-making, theatre-making is all about collaborative teamwork," he said. "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 2019, Takei made a veiled dig at Shatner. But in 2017, Takei said that the supposed feud between himself and Shatner had been overblown.

"This is silliness," Takei said. "There's unanimity among the castmates, we've all had difficulties with Bill, but we're all teammates and we work together. When Brad and I got married, I asked Walter Koenig, who played Chekov, to be our best man and Nichelle Nichols to be our matron of honor. Nichelle said, 'I am not a matron! If Walter is the best man, why can't I be the best lady?' We said, 'Of course you are.'

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"We thought the most natural thing to do would be to extend invitations to everybody. We sent Bill an invitation. There might have been some mistake in the mail. If he would have called us before the wedding, we would have happily had him. We do conventions, and we do cross paths. I'll say, 'Morning, Bill.' And he'll say, 'Morning, George.' And that's it."

During the conversation with Tennant, Takei also explained what a great opportunity Star Trek presented for him as an Asian actor. "I understood that it was an incredible break for me. Here was a show with that concept that we talked about, and here was a character who was a part of the leadership team. At the time, there was a stereotype of Asian drivers. I was the best driver in the galaxy. The stereotype shattering and speaking English without an accent. I knew that this was going to be a series regular. My face would be seen week after week after week and then daily. I had no idea it was going to be such a career-defining opportunity, but I knew it was a breakthrough part for me."