According to actor Wil Wheaton, best known for playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, his first encounter with franchise legend William Shatner went less than stellar.
In his new book, Still Just a Geek: An Annotated Memoir, Wheaton recounted that the first time he met Shatner, the Captain Kirk actor was incredibly rude to him.
As reported by the New York Post, Wheaton’s first meeting with Shatner occurred when, during the filming of TNG, he heard that the cast of the original Star Trek would be working close by.
Not willing to miss the opportunity, Wheaton nervously went to meet his idol.
The Stand by Me actor explained he was wearing his grey “acting ensign” spacesuit when he mustered up the courage to approach Shatner.
“It took about eight steps for my confidence to evaporate,” Wheaton said. “So, you’re the kid on that show?” Shatner asked upon approach by Wheaton.
“He seemed annoyed,” Wheaton wrote in his book. “My throat and mouth were dry, and my palms were sweating. My heart pounded in my ears, as I answered, ‘Uh, yes sir. My name’s Wil.’”
“‘What is that your spacesuit?’ he said, and made a sound that was somewhere between a laugh and a cough,” the TNG actor continued, noting that he felt light-headed and didn’t hear Shatner’s question the first time, prompting him to repeat, ““‘I said, What do you do over there?’”
“There was a challenge in his voice,” added Wheaton.
Stating that he was an acting ensign who sometimes piloted TNG’s signature ship, The USS Enterprise, Wheaton was allegedly met with disinterest from Shatner, who supposedly replied, “Well, I’d never let a kid come onto my bridge.’”
As word of this incident spread to other members of the TNG cast and production crew, many were reportedly there to comfort Wheaton and empathized with him by telling him stories of their own negative experiences with Shatner.
Michael Dorn, the actor who played Worf, allegedly jokingly offered to beat up Shatner, while Data actor Bret Spiner told the young Wheaton that Shatner wore a tupee.
Jonathan Frakes, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Capt. William Riker, was said to have declared, “To hell with him.”
Arguably the best reaction as recollected by Wheaton may have come when the man himself, Gene Rodenberry, called him into his office to discuss the situation.
“‘Wil, Bill Shatner is an a**, don’t you worry about him, okay?’” Wheaton recalled of the Star Trek creator. “’I am so proud to have you on my show. Don’t you ever forget that.’”
Wheaton then stated that he got a written apology “From the Office of William Shatner” the next day.
“Dear Wil, You are a fine young actor, and I would be honored to have you on my bridge any day,” the apology, signed in ink, supposedly read. “Sincerely yours, Bill.”
Further, Wheaton recalled that after almost immediately after reading the message, he got a call from Roddenberry, who told him, “I spoke with Bill Shatner yesterday, and he should be dropping a note off for you today.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” Wheaton concluded the story in his memoir. “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.”
However, it seems Shatner himself has a different recollection of these events.
Responding to Wheaton’s story on Twitter, the Star Trek icon wrote, “I have no recollection of this event.”
“Others on set say it never happened,” he continued. “I actually have apologized to him a few times even though I don’t remember it & he accepted my apology. Now that must also be forgotten? He must need the publicity for some project.”
Maybe what they say is true: you should never meet your heroes.
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