George Takei calls Star Trek co-star William Shatner a ‘cantankerous old man’

The actors have argued publicly for years.
George Takei calls Star Trek co-star William Shatner a ‘cantankerous old man’

By Naomi Clarke, PA Entertainment Reporter

George Takei has called his former Star Trek co-star William Shatner a “cantankerous old man” as he vowed this will be the last time he talks about him.

The 85-year-old actor, who played Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu alongside Shatner’s Captain James T Kirk in the classic sci-fi series, has argued publicly with his ex-colleague for years.

Appearing on The Graham Norton Show to discuss his musical Allegiance, which is based on his childhood experience of internment in the Second World War, it appeared Takei wanted to finally put their long-running feud to bed.

Destination Star Trek Europe
William Shatner (Joe Giddens/PA)

Asked if it is true that he and Shatner do not get on, Takei said: “You are the last chat show host to be allowed to ask that question as it has become so tiresome to talk about.

“When Bill has a book to sell he needs publicity and accuses us of using him.

“My subject is more substantial and important.

“He is a cantankerous old man and I will not talk about him anymore.

“I vow that this is the very last time I talk about him.”

Last year, when Shatner made history as the oldest person to reach space thanks to a rocket built by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, Takei said he was unimpressed by his former co-star’s achievements.

“He’s boldly going where other people have gone before.

“He’s a guinea pig, 90 years old and it’s important to find out what happens,” Takei told Page Six.

“So 90 years old is going to show a great deal more on the wear and tear on the human body, so he’ll be a good specimen to study.

“Although he’s not the fittest specimen of 90 years old, so he’ll be a specimen that’s unfit!”

Takei also once accused Shatner of ignoring him on set and alleging changing a script so Takei’s character Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu did not take command of the starship in an episode.

Graham Norton Show – London
George Takei during the filming for the Graham Norton Show (Ian West/PA)

Reflecting on Star Trek and its beginnings, Takei admitted to Norton he did not think the TV show would work because he had seen many shows he loved get axed.

He said: “After the pilot episode, I was asked what I thought and I said that I didn’t think it would sell or be a lasting show because I smelt quality.

“I loved the scripts, everyone was great, it was a great idea – and every time I saw a show I really love it only lasted one season.

“How wrong I was!”

Takei went on to feature in a number of the franchise’s subsequent films as well as other series including Heroes and the US sci-fi sitcom The Neighbours.

His musical Allegiance, inspired by his personal experiences of Japanese American internment during the Second World War, played on Broadway from 2015 to 2016.

The show is set to open at London’s Charing Cross Theatre on January 7 for a limited run, with Takei reprising his lead role.

Shatner’s representatives have been contacted for comment.

The Graham Norton Show airs on BBC One and BBC iPlayer on Friday at 10.45pm.

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