Wil Wheaton was a guest on the set of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, where he met William Shatner.
Wil Wheaton has a new book coming out called Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir, and inside are countless stories of his career, including the time he met William Shatner. Their first meeting came on the set of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
Wheaton recalls that Shatner wasn’t the nicest to him. According to the New York Post, which got their hands on the excerpt ahead of the memoir’s April 12 release, Shatner mocked Wheaton’s Next Generation costume, ignored a handshake from the young actor, and told Wheaton he’d never let a kid come onto his bridge.
To be fair to Shatner, most fans hated Wheaton’s character for the exact same reason; a kid on a starship bridge? Psh.
Yet, as the New York Post article goes on, apparently the rest of the Next Generation Cast came to his defense and started mocking Shatner.
"Brent Spiner, who played Data on “Next Generation,” told the teen that Shatner was bald and wears a toupee. Michael Dorn, who played Klingon Worf, jokingly offered to kick Shatner’s ass, and Jonathan Frakes (Capt. William Riker) said: “To hell with him.”"
In Star Trek, the happening ending isn’t guaranteed but it is welcomed
Despite the contentious start to their relationship, Shatner would make good with Wheaton at the behest of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
"As Wheaton was going back to his trailer, he was summoned into Gene Roddenberry’s office. The “Star Trek” creator had already heard about the unpleasant meeting.“Wil, Bill Shatner is an ass, don’t you worry about him, okay?” Rodenberry said. “I am so proud to have you on my show. Don’t you ever forget that.”"
Shatner is a prickly person to work with, that’s never been in doubt but Shatner did reach out to the young actor to make up for their interaction.
"The next day at work, there was an envelope sitting on Wheaton’s dressing room table addressed “To Master Wil Wheaton” “From the Office of William Shatner.”Inside there was a typed message: “Dear Wil, You are a fine young actor, and I would be honored to have you on my bridge any day. Sincerely yours, Bill.” The signature was in ink."
And for Wheaton, it was a testament to Roddenberry that Shatner apologized in the first place.
"I couldn’t believe it,” Wheaton writes. “Gene Roddenberry, the Great Bird of the Galaxy and creator of ‘Star Trek,’ had called WILLIAM F–KING SHATNER, Captain James T. Kirk and director of ‘Star Trek V,’ and asked him to apologize to me, Wil Wheaton, 16-year-old acting ensign and drooling fanboy.Of all the wonderful gifts Gene gave me across the years, that is one of the most fondly remembered, because I know that without Gene’s intervention that note would never have been written."
There have to be far more of these types of stories, as the original Star Trek crew was in full swing with the film franchise as Star Trek: The Next Generation was beginning its television debut. Unlike today where there are five or so active shows and movies being produced at the same time, this was at a time when the movie crew was the only actors in Trek.
To have to deal with a younger, bolder, and arguably better-prepared group had to be a sore spot for many on the original side of things.
I wonder what other stories are waiting to be told about the two casts.