William Shatner Opens Up About Why He Skipped Leonard Nimoy's Funeral And His Feelings On The Star Trek Backlash That Followed

While the cast of the original Star Trek series and films created an iconic crew of characters that worked together, as people, the actors have famously had their share of disagreements and problems. Shatner and George Takei have had something of a feud going for years.  William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy reportedly had their own issues, both working together and in the period preceding Nimoy’s death, though Shatner recently explained that wasn’t why he didn’t attend the actor’s funeral.

Speaking with Variety about his new documentary, Call Me Bill, William Shatner explained that when Leonard Nimoy passed away in 2015, it was sudden and unexpected. For that reason, Shatner had already made plans to attend a Red Cross Fundraiser the night before the funeral on the other side of the country. In the end, Shatner felt that the fundraiser would ultimately do more good in the world. He explained… 

When Leonard Nimoy died a few years ago, his funeral was on a Sunday. His death was very sudden, and I had obligated myself to go to Mar-a-Lago for a Red Cross fundraiser. I was one of the celebrities raising money. That event was on Saturday night. I chose to keep my promise and go to Mar-a-Lago instead of the funeral, and I said to the audience, ‘People ask about a legacy. There’s no legacy. Statues are torn down. Graveyards are ransacked. Headstones are knocked over. No one remembers anyone. Who remembers Danny Kaye or Cary Grant? They were great stars. But they’re gone and no one cares.’ But what does live on are good deeds. If you do a good deed, it reverberates to the end of time. It’s the butterfly effect thing. That’s why I have done this film.

While Shatner says that he chose not to attend the funeral now, a few years ago the former Captain Kirk said that he didn’t attend Nimoy's service because it was “made clear” to him that he would not be welcome. Shatner says that Nimoy wasn’t speaking to him in the period immediately prior to his death, though he has always said he doesn’t understand why. Following the funeral, Nimoy's children have only had good things to say about Shatner.

Whatever the ultimate reason, or combination of reasons for Shatner not attending the funeral, the fact that he was not there to remember the man he had been professionally connected to for decades did not go unnoticed. The interviewer asks about the backlash that came with not being there, but Shatner says it doesn’t bother him. He still feels he made the right choice, saying…

Who cares? I know what I did was right. So it doesn’t matter. We’re criticized when we lift a finger. I don’t read that stuff. I try to not to indulge in the evil that’s out there.

At the end of the day it’s probably the right decision to try and ignore the detractors. If WIlliam Shatner made what he believed was the right decision at the time, especially if he truly felt he wouldn’t be welcome anyway, then he really didn’t have a choice. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.