Sunday, September 6, 2009

Shatner at Dragon*Con: "Don't touch the hair!"


On Friday 4th September 2009, Bill Shatner and Leonard Nimoy appeared onstage together as guests at the Dragon*Con sci-fi convention. There was one moment during the two actors' endless banter when Nimoy seemingly attempted to place his hand on his pal's head. Guess what Shats' did? Nobody touches the hair! Clip below:



The full fascinating and very funny exchange between these two men can be watched in seven segments starting here. It is well worth watching and not just for the humor.

In a sense, this session reveals both the Shatner that people love and the one that some people hate. On the negative side, Shats, while in his on-stage hyper-persona can come across as a bit self-centered and even dismissive of others (he hasn't watched his friend's performance in the new Trek film, if only to compliment him - he clearly hasn't thought of it that way; Patrick Stewart could also be insulted by some of Shats' comments; so could the people of Atlanta!).

Yet, the flip side is that despite these antics, one never senses any malice from Shatner. Indeed, he comes across as almost child-like; acutely sensitive, in constant need of praise and attention and easily hurt. He was hurt that he wasn't in the new Trek film - and Shatner wants you to know it when something hurts him! And the funny thing is that he also keeps mentioning George Takei. On the surface, it may be that he is making fun of him, but the deeper impression is that those bad vibes hurt him too.

Of course, for the most part, he is just joking around and Nimoy is quick to interject when Shatner seems to go too far, for example making fun of an audience member's southern accent.

Many of the "lesser" Trek stars have grumbled against Shatner's antics during the 60s show, yet they have also all admitted that they never confronted the actor at the time - they never did what Nimoy does several times during the above segment in a very light-hearted manner; instead they bottled up their feelings and turned them into resentment. Why? Probably because they feared that they would be fired at the behest of the tyrannical leading-man.

Shatner is a little crazy - we all know that - and the Dragon*Con exchange is probably very similar to the way he goofed around on the set of Star Trek. Yet it is really just a show; a fun and harmless way to let off steam. Had the actors really talked with Shats about their concerns, they likely would have found the other Shatner very receptive - not the goofy Shatner, but the normal and very likeable and charming Shatner that loves Leonard Nimoy like a brother and whom Nimoy loves the same way.

10 comments:

  1. Another hint- At the end of the episode Requiem for Methuselah Shatner's hairpiece can clearly be seen as he leans forward on his desk:
    http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/5670/vlcsnap6964121.png
    Looks like one piece to me but who knows?

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  2. One of the most pointed anecdotes about Shatner was one that Justman or Solow told about a film editor on the set of Star Trek who mentioned to Shat that the actor was telegraphing his lines, and as an editor, it wasn't making his job any easier. Shatner became enraged and physically went after the guy with both parties having to be held back. That editor never worked again on the Star Trek set.

    Almost all the people involved with the show tell the same kinds of stories and Shatner certainly doesn't come across as a team player back then. He was deadly serious about becoming recognized as a major star. His saving grace was the strength of his individual contribution to the show. And his toupee.

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  3. Yeah, that is an interesting story and Shatner certainly could be very insensitive. But to be fair, it is really unheard of in showbusiness for an editor to be publicly critical of an actor at a wrap-party like that. The inference is that they were trying to humiliate him in public. Maybe in private, in a closed, comfortable setting, such concerns could be discussed. I think that most editors would likely have been fired for that kind of behavior and most actors would probably flip out the way Shatner did. -ST

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  4. I get very tired by the lesser players' constant jibes about Shatner in Star Trek. He was the star, you weren't - get over it! No one wanted the action to stop so Mr Sulu could talk in a deep voice for a few more minutes, or Mr Scott to moan a bit more about the engines. So please put them in their place by showing THEIR rug history. Mr Chekhov clearly has a wig. Doohan's, Takei's and even Nimoy's hair looked much thinner in the 60s than it did in the 70s and later (and just about all the men seem to be wearing rugs when they returned for the Star Trek movies). So let's challenege their follicles!

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  5. Thanks for your comment "anonymous". We've been trying to ask commenters to sign themselves with a username, just so everyone has an idea of who is saying what. In the "comment as" tab below, you can select "Name/URL" and write in a username - anything you want. Thanks so much! -ST

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  6. Why is it necessary to make a big deal about the supporting actors' hair? Koenig freely admits to wearing a toup, and it's obvious Takei dyes his own hair.

    As to the "constant" jibes about Shatner, I think it's more your imagination at this point than reality, as all of them have made their money and just want to enjoy the rest of their lives.

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  7. No, no, they've all moaned about him, and should stop.

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  8. I'm surprised no one has remarked on the extremely obvious gesture Shatner makes in response to Nimoy reaching for his hair: in return, Shats playfully reaches for Nimoy's false teeth. (Warning, that first link has strong language).

    While Shats is still not comfortable revealing his "makeup secrets" aloud, in the company of his best friend -- and through the vehicle of mutual teasing -- he can open up enough to admit it with body language.

    I think this is about the clearest admission he's ever made, for those who are paying attention.

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