Putting the Shatner "ego issue" from TOS to rest

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Gary7, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Having watched the recent Hard Talk interview, some of the content touched on the "Shatner ego" topic and I found it fascinating. Yes, we look at Shatner today and he has played some high ego characters across the years. He does like to bask in the limelight. But I have to say that from what I've seen and read, my understanding of it is this:

    During TOS, the secondary characters like Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei, and Walter Koenig had very small roles. Doohan was the largest of the four, because he had a couple of episodes with a more prominent appearance than a usual extra. Still, the comparative screen time pales in comparison to Shatner and Nimoy. So naturally, Shatner and Nimoy would take greater precedence. A secondary actor is not going to be given nearly as much attention both on screen and off.

    So, after cancellation, TOS takes off and now these secondary actors see themselves as something much more important than originally perceived. Now they feel "lessened" because they didn't get nearly as much attention (and mind you, it seemed like the stories about this increased as time went on). And if there was one or two episode scenes where changes meant the secondary actors had even less time, their perception of this is even more contentious to them... when in fact there was probably a credible production or story reason for the change. But for them, it's easy to say "well Shatner wanted it all for himself and here's a perfect example".

    Doohan had a chip on his shoulder that he made well known, because he saw himself as this highly multi-talented actor who was unable to realize his potential on the show, because his role was quite small compared to Captain Kirk and Spock. But just look at what happened to him afterward. He really didn't do anything noteworthy, not one production outside of Star Trek that you could easily recall off the top of your head. Doesn't that say something... No disrespect meant for Doohan. I just don't think his talent was as compelling as he may have thought.

    Everything I read of Herbert Solow's writings in "Inside Star Trek" suggested Shatner was a very professional actor who did a fine job with what he had to work with. There isn't any solid evidence at all of an ego mongering Shatner. Would you agree?
     
  2. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That's all I got.

    As for original point, I respectfully disagree. I don't think Ellison (Not the most trustworthy source i know) made up that Shatner was counting his lines, or that Nichols had to be the one to make Shatner see that he really had been an ass.

    Now it's completly possible Shatner wasn't aware of it, and that there is an element of the others enjoying the attention they got by getting together to trash Shatner. But overall, if I HAD to choose between viewpoints...I would say that Shatner had been something of an ass.
     
  3. gomtuu20

    gomtuu20 Commander Red Shirt

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    Shatter used to be a pompous ass. It was obvious when he was interviewed. I think that has changed a little bit now that he has grown older.
     
  4. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Shatner's ego has shrunk over the years in the same way that George Takei's has insufferably grown.
     
  5. marksound

    marksound Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I never bought into that ego stuff. Shat was the star of the show. He had been working steadily in TV for years and was known for his work. His "overacting" was a result of many years on the stage.

    Nothing against the rest of the cast, but top billing has its privileges.

    IMO, if Shat was that hard to work with he wouldnt have had the career he's had.
     
  6. BeatleJWOL

    BeatleJWOL Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Correct. Maybe Shatner was a ginormous horse's ass during TOS, but maybe too his subsequent career slump in the 1970s was less about typecasting and more about stories of his bad behavior as part of the TOS cast. Maybe then it took the Trek revival in 1979 plus Shatner having learned a few lessons during his time away from the limelight that makes him able to improve his career again.
     
  7. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's probably the most accurate and simplest summation of the whole thing, yeah.
     
  8. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    One of the criticisms that I read of Shatner was that at the end of the day, instead of hanging out with his fellow actors, he would leave the studio and spend time with his established friends and his family. He treated his fellow actors as co-workers and not his new best friends.

    Star Trek wasn't a modern ensemble cast show. It had three primary stars, Doohan was medium sized and the rest were in supporting roles with minimal scripted lines. Nickels wasn't even a contract player, she was a day player, basically waited to see if she was on the daily call sheet.

    Shatner isn't the best actor I've ever seen. But he is considerably above average in terms of his acting ability, his career shows this. With the exception of Nimoy, the majority of the Star Trek TOS cast has worked infrequently.
     
  9. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    I'm sure he may have a big ego, but that is hardly unusual among actors and less so for leading ones. Some tread softer and grate less on their fellows than others. I enjoy the man's work and any ego problems he might need to curb aren't relevant to me. I'd be disappointed only to the extent it might have kept him from roles I'd have liked to have seen him in. Whether he has an overbearing ego as a matter of fact, that is an issue for his co-workers, family and friends to deal with. Until I'm living next door to him, or working with him, I can't see why I should care.
     
  10. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    He also did a stint on the soap opera The Bold and Beautiful.


    Thing is, even if the junior cast members weren't on TV/movies all the time, that doesn't mean they weren't working. Some did live theatre, others wrote, Nichelle Nichols did some work as a recruiter for NASA, to find qualified women/minority people to train as astronauts, Takei took a shot at politics, and so on.

    Walter Koenig wrote plays and performed on stage, he wrote comic book scripts, he acted... I don't think anybody here would say he wasn't pretty damn good on Babylon 5.

    And why shouldn't these people fight for their characters and resent every instance of Shatner thoughtlessly (not necessarily deliberately) taking lines that could be said by someone else? They had the right to be concerned for their jobs, too!
     
  11. 1001001

    1001001 Let the Good Times Roll!! Moderator

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    I wonder if there are reports from any actors/crew other than the secondary TOS cast?

    I mean, if the guy is an egotistical jerk, wouldn't somebody else have noticed somewhere down the line?

    What does heather Locklear or Adrian Zmed have to say? The crew of Airplane 2? Boston Legal?

    Sure people mellow and mature over time, but they don't completely change their character. It's hard to believe he was an ass on Star Trek, and fine the rest of his career.
     
  12. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    They have. You catch enough folks on the convention circuit - guest actors on TOS, some of the new cast in the Bennett-produced Star Trek movies - and they've said similar things, from the dismissive attitude on to line hogging/counting, etc.
     
  13. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    According to wiki he and Heather Locklear have been friends ever since the TJ Hooker days. I would guess he's got no more an ego than any other actor and this 'ego problem' is more fan&actor creation for convention fodder than anything else. For folks to still go on about it sounds more of pots going on about the kettles, really. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shatner
     
  14. Hyfen_Underskor

    Hyfen_Underskor Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I have respect for any actor who played the murderer alongside Peter Falk in the TV show "Columbo". I think it requires a putting aside of ego, as the thorn-in-the-flesh detective plucked away at weaknesses of the character involved. In the episode that Shatner played in, he represented a high-profile TV star who was highly flawed (which came out as Columbo worked his magic on him). And Shatner pulled the character off quite well IMO.
     
  15. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It is literally impossible for me to see the words "Adrian Zmed" without supressing a laugh.
     
  16. 1001001

    1001001 Let the Good Times Roll!! Moderator

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    I've been to lots of conventions, and have heard the stories. He'll I've met the man twice and thought he was quite unfriendly and ungracious.

    But still that's all Star Trek stuff. What about all his other work? Has anyone else complained about this stuff?
     
  17. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I've no idea - never seen a live appearance by the third-cop-from-the-left on T.J. Hooker.

    Of course, Shatner's situation on Boston Legal was very different - he was first among equals in an ensemble cast that included people like Candice Bergen; it was not a set where he was likely to throw his weight around.
     
  18. 1001001

    1001001 Let the Good Times Roll!! Moderator

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    Fair enough. I don't claim to know anything. Just curious.

    Ultimately it doesn't matter. I don't have to work with the guy.

    ;)
     
  19. JimZipCode

    JimZipCode Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    There's no contradiction between those two positions. Shatner could have been both a very professional actor who did a fine job – showed up on time, knew his lines, accepted direction, never was drunk or high on set, fulfilled all the promotional assignments the studio or network wanted him to do – and a raging egomaniac who was obsessed with how he was presented to the audience (along with his screen time and line count) and dismissive of the lesser co-stars around him.

    I think it's a little weird to listen to an interview a guy gives 40 years later, and conclude from it that he wasn't a raging egomaniac back in the day. He's had decades to think about these questions; and he's older and more professional etc. You should not expect to find much evidence within the interview is, for the behavior you're looking for.

    But there is some. When asked about Nimoy's quote about a nearly "sibling rivalry" between them during filming, Shatner spoke about how he didn't understand it, here he was acting his tail off and audiences wanted to see more of the man in the pointed ears. There's an echo there; you can imagine what that emotion might have been like 40 years ago, at its newest and rawest.

    Shatner has this great quote, early in the interview:
    This is a working actor's working actor. I'd love to see him on Inside The Actor's Studio or someplace, talking about work.
     
  20. wissaboo

    wissaboo Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As a lifelong fan of Kirk and by default Shatner, I have to say I don't care. I don't think the personalities of celebrities or their interpersonal relationships are really any of our business. Sure it would be nice to think that the people who fleshed out these characters we have come to care about so much were wonderful human beings but they are just as subject to foibles and flaws as the rest of us are.
     

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