It isn’t good to speak ill of the dead but awhile back it looks as if William Shatner may have done just that when it came to his longtime acting partner and frenemy Leonard Nimoy. Fans of the series all know that Spock sacrificed his life in ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ to save the Enterprise and his friends before returning to life in ‘Star Trek III: The Search for Spock‘. The scene was truly a gut punch which has been gone over in tribute and even mimicked by the reboot of Abrams version of ‘Star Trek’ as well.
However, it seems as if being killed by Khan was not just to advance the film’s story but Nimoy’s career as well. When filming was going on Shatner states he didn’t know it at the time but suspects that this move was all part of producer Harve Bennett getting leverage in order to set up a directing deal for Nimoy with Paramount Pictures.
According to Shatner:
“I believe it was all planned — I now believe (Nimoy) and Harve cooked this up. 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.”
Not knowing the plans for the series, Shatner was under the impression that he was saying goodbye to Nimoy’s character for good in the scene. However, with this in mind, his view has become a bit jaded over the years.
“”I was thinking my good friend Nimoy is, in essence, saying goodbye to the whole part. No one told me they were thinking otherwise.”
Not that the two have always had the best of friendships after working together.
The film’s director Nicholas Meyer disagreed with Shatner’s viewpoint though as he tells it, it sounds as if Nimoy wasn’t even interested in returning for the sequel but a glorious death brought him back to acting in the film:
“Here’s what happened. 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.”
As to why Spock ended up returning to life? No one really wanted him dead after it actually happened!
“Leonard was starting to feel really good (about the movie) and was thinking whether he was making some kind of a mistake. 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.”
Shatner insisted he had no ill will towards Nimoy around this and he himself was able to direct ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’ but still wasn’t happy with how it played out as he “would have enjoyed being in on it.”
Do you think that Spock’s death was just a ploy to get Nimoy a directing gig on the next film or was it really a way to just have him return to the franchise? Share your thoughts below!