Nick Meyer Talks About Star Trek II Tensions With Shatner Over Script and Paramount Over Spock’s Death


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is still considered by most to be the best film in the franchise, but that doesn’t mean making the movie was easy. In a new interview writer/director Nicholas Meyer talks about how William Shatner had problems with the script and how he fought with the studio over the treatment of Spock’s death. Details below.

Meyer On Dealing With Shatner and Being Overruled On Spock’s Death in Star Trek 

In an interview promoting his upcoming appearance at the Destination 3 convention in London, Star Trek II (and VI) writer/director Nick Meyer talked to the official Star Trek site about his time with the franchise. In regards to Star Trek II Meyer recalls the experience fondly, but he also did note a couple of areas of tension with making the film. Firstly, Meyer talks about how he first had trouble with William Shatner and the script for Wrath of Khan, saying:

I know that, originally, Bill Shatner didn’t like the script at all, and I was very floored by this because everybody else did like it. And I sort of listened to his complaints with mounting alarm, and the form it took was that I just kept having to get up and go to the men’s room. Just kept peeing and peeing and peeing as though I was either very humiliated or very enraged or some combination of both. When he left, I was in a real depression. Harve said, “Well, you know, just a minute. If you parse this into bite sizes, it basically boils down that he wants to be the first man through the door.” So, I could understand that. I went back and 24 hours later I’d done a rewrite, and he was very pleased.

Harve Bennet’s wisdom to Nick Meyer – Shatner wants Kirk to be first guy through the door

Meyer also discussed how he was overruled in how Star Trek II dealt with Spock’s death, saying:

When Paramount saw the movie, when Leonard saw the movie, and everybody said, “Well, gee. Gee. Maybe killing him isn’t such a good idea.” And at that point, we got into the whole thing about “Remember” and showing his coffin on the planet, and stuff like that. All of which at the time I furiously objected to. I just thought this was so unfair to an audience of people who really care about this sh-t, and then saying, “You know, oh, it was just a dry hustle.” No, I didn’t think that was right. And in retrospect, you know, maybe I was wrong about that. At the time, I just thought that my vision of the thing was being insensitively overruled. But that’s when they made that insert, about “Remember” and put him on the planet in his torpedo.

Meyer objected to these scenes in Star Trek II setting up Spock’s resurrection

For more from Meyer read the full interview (Part 1 and Part 2).

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all right open up…


Wow, you’re first! ;) Ever been that before?

Its always great to find out some interesting tid bit about the movies and a reveal about the production and what went on.

I suppose its natural for Shatner to want to be the ‘first man’ in as he’s THE star.

Boborci- exactly why Mr. Shatner should NOT be in your movie.

At least he didn’t say “First!” we usually delete those but would hate to delete an original Orci

#1 Do you think its the best movie in the franchise, Bob?

#5 yea, cos Meyer included him in TWoK and look how badly that turned out.

Five totally different drafts, by five different people, all of them apparently terrible, adding up to one great movie.

Funny how stuff happens.

If only somebody had managed to do the same with The Motion Picture!


While you are here I want to say something about the style of the next movie, although it’s a little off-topic:

I would like the next trek to be different in style to recent movies with a space setting like guardians of the galaxy or thor and maybe even starwars. I mean the effect teams tend to make space look like a fantasy world with nebulas in every shot and sometimes it seems a little bit too colorful.
I like scifi settings more in the way like A space odyssey or “gravity”, where the viewer is astonished but could think about that what he sees beeing reality. If you think about your visual style I would like it if you would go that route as well because real space has a lot to offer visually as well. For guardians it might be ok to look like fantasy but I like the “science” fiction” look for star trek more.

But this is just my opinion. ;)

6. Anthony Pascale:


yes lets not have shatner in the movie because dennycranium says so! it can be an official reason as to why he wasn’t in it…people coming out the theatres summer 2016 ‘ hey why wasn’t shatner in the movie?’…’oh apparently some guy called dennycranium said he shouldn’t be in it so …yeah’

Khan2.0 have you ever made a film?
Dealt with rewrites, actors, egos?
Mr.Shatner, incredibly talented as he is,can be difficult to deal with.
Harlan Ellison has documented this and now Nick Meyer as well as others.
Based on past behavior, Mr. Shatner will behave the same way, now.
Star Trek has a new cast and Chris Pine is the Captain.
Mr Shatner, if offered a part needs to realize he’s only going to be a part of the film- not it’s star.
And yes, I’ve made a film.

@ boborci

and you want to work with that guy?
Remember!…Shatner wants to be first through the door.
He may be older but that ego has not landed yet.

Shat simply must realize he would be there for the “lifetime achievement” moment, not “best actress.”

Would love an ORGANIC MOMENT with WS & LN in the Prime Universe… but nothing huge that would take the audience out of the movie.

“All I ask is a tall ship
and a star to stear her by…”

“Your first, best destiny.”


@ 14. dennycranium – September 27, 2014

So when you are making a movie, do you make sure that you hire actors who are easy to work with & avoid difficult actors even if they are “incredibly talented” ?

@Ahmed- the answer is well,that depends.
First of all, I’ve done very little casting as I’m usually 1st AD on set.
From what I’ve seen, you hire the best actor for the job, first, even if they can get a little temperamental.
I should say that being an actor is harder than it looks. Product today is on the web forever and if that actor looks tired or their hair or makeup isn’t right, I understand why they feel that way.
I’ve acted in small parts and it requires your complete concentration.
So, if you’re a lead in a show, yes, I’d put up with some shenanigans from you as an actor.
If you’re in a supporting role or bit part, not so much.
Mr. Shatner is used to being the star in his movies and TV shows, deservedly so.
I suspect that he will attempt script rewrites and pull the odd hissy fit were he in this movie.
IN MY OPINION, it’s time for Mr Shatner to be the mentor and deflect the praise to Pine and Quinto as Mr. Nimoy has.
As another poster said, I’d love to see Shantner and Nimoy in the movie in an organic way that SERVES the story.
I just don’t think Mr. Shatner would be happy with a supporting role.
His past behavior has proven that.

@19. dennycranium

“As another poster said, I’d love to see Shantner and Nimoy in the movie in an organic way that SERVES the story.”

I think most of us who want to see Shatner & Nimoy would love nothing more than that. No one is seriously asking that Shatner plays a major role in the next movie.

@ Ahmed,
I think Shatner has probably been offered roles in both previous Trek outings and he’s either turned them down or the producers won’t relent to his wishes.

boborci has grown strangely silent on this thread…..hmmmm.
Wonder why…..

LOL at Meyer’s depression after he talked with Shatner

Just a little thing we call ego…everyone has one, some more than others.

I thought the “Forever” piece was brilliant because it kind of slipped passed you and wasn’t indicative of being a device for use in the next film. However the torpedo coffin at the end was just a Hollywood moment wrapped in a bow I could have done without…. Im not a fan of placing a director and then directing the director…Let them have their vision. Unfortunately we live in the real world also…sooo

I dont know why my phone typed “Forever” it was supposed to read “Remember” woops!

Bringing Spock back was definitely the right choice. Star Treks IV, VI, XI, and Unification just wouldn’t have worked if they’d kept him dead, even if that would have made the ending of Star Trek II a bit better.

20 Ahmed I think most of us who want to see Shatner & Nimoy would love nothing more than that. No one is seriously asking that Shatner plays a major role in the next movie.

Except, possibly, Shatner, LOL.

19. dennycranium –
“I just don’t think Mr. Shatner would be happy with a supporting role.
His past behavior has proven that.”

I hear ya dennyc. I’m not at all surprised to read this sort of thing about Shatner. But as I said recently on another thread, I’m thinking he just might look at things with another perspective at this point in his life and career. He, knowing that there are fewer days ahead of than those behind and all that, might sincerely appreciate the chance for one last appearance as THE truly iconic character that he WILL be remembered for for years or decades or, who knows(?), perhaps even centuries to come. Concepts that would be heady and humbling for most of us, I dare say. But, of course, Mr. William Shatner is not most of us. He’s not any of us. So *sigh* it wouldn’t be a surprise if he goes into negotiations ego first and unhumbled, as seems to always have been his wont.

For me, all I want is a good or hopefully great Trek film for the 50th. With or without original cast members. Hope the weight is not to heavy Bob.

Reading Mr. Meyer’s comments, ST:TWOK is very much like a submarine movie, especially the “run silent, run deep” moves through the nebula. I really thought the uniforms in this movie were outstanding, so unlike the pale-hued “pajamas” in TMP. I had to laugh at that comment of Mr. Meyer’s: is that the movie where they wear the pajamas?

As far as Shatner — well, heck: who among us wouldn’t see one’s character as “first through the door” after having spent 3 years being addressed as “Captain” and “Sir”? He had top billing — he was the “star” of that original show and we have to admit that he “made” the character of Kirk.

An actor (and yes, I’ve done some acting) takes the written words of a script, weaves in the director’s take on the scene, and then imbues that character with him or her self. The words come alive, the character becomes “real” right before our eyes. Shatner did that for three years on television and on the big screen. Yes, there is going to be an ego.

But, read how Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer worked with Shatner — I have every confidence that Mr. Orci would be just as adept when working with Mr. Shatner.

And, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy get along famously as far as I can tell; some in the theatre arts would call that “chemistry.” Just think of that chemistry in a Star Trek movie that will, I’m sure, celebrate the 50th Anniversary in many ways.

I say: go for it!

Fascinating all the focus on Shatner’s ego. To me, the relevant part of the piece is “Harve said, ‘Well, you know, just a minute. If you parse this into bite sizes, it basically boils down that he wants to be the first man through the door.’ So, I could understand that. I went back and 24 hours later I’d done a rewrite, and he was very pleased. ”

Sometimes it’s just as hard for a writer to actually *hear* criticism as it is for an actor to submerge his ego. The line above sounds as if Mr. Bennett was able to distill Mr. Shatner’s complaints for Mr. Meyer, as a result of which Mr. Meyer improved the script.

I know *I* certainly liked it!

26 Crazy, THE truly iconic character that he WILL be remembered for for years or decades

I think this is what has bugged Shatner for so long. He really wanted something else to be famous for. Until I saw “The Captains” I did not realize what lack of esteem Shatner had for his own role in such an influential show. Patrick Stewart kind of opened Shatner’s eyes there. It was a good moment.

I wouldn’t want someone who didn’t want to be “first through the door” to be playing the captain of the Enterprise anyway. Shatner’s ego defines Kirk’s swagger.

Would Deep Throat care to confirm or deny the following report:

William Shatner Confirms He Was Contacted About Star Trek 3 And He Would Love To Do It

Well, the shats out of the bag now. @boborci needs to chime in!

@1. boborci,

It must be fascinating to read about a writer/director who had so many problems with the studio when they have essentially given you free reign to ‘follow your heart’. Probably even more shocking to see a writer show such concern for the fans, or question the validity of his own choices. Oh, and just double checking, you have heard of Nick Meyer before, right? You never know after your revelation about David Gerrold. ;-)

Marja –

I thought Shatner had long ago come to terms with the place Captain Kirk has in entertainment history and with what the character meant and means to his career. Especially since he’s been able to do so much more in the field (TJ Hooker and multiple Emmy wins as Denny Crane) and in other arenas. I can’t remember which book it was of his where he stated as much. He realizes that much of what he’s been able to do is due to his notoriety as Kirk. And that notoriety, along with his talent and seemingly boundless energy and drive, has allowed him to exploit his abilities in ways and to degrees that actors and other celebs with equal or perhaps even greater talent(s) have not been able to.

Of course he may have been being disingenuous at the time, appearing to be reflective and humble for the sake of book sales..$. It could all, or mostly, have been showman/salesman Shatner. Ha!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again! I like the guy. Been a Shat fan for decades. And I’m even more of a Nimoy fan. But I DO NOT want those guys in the next movie if their inclusion will cause or contribute to the film being other than ‘all of a piece’. If they cannot be, as someone or others have put it, organic to the movie then I don’t to see them in it. No doubt there will be many other ways for them to be a part of the anniversary if they so desire. But lessonning the franchise for the sake of an appearance is not a way I want their participation.

Yikes! Starting to get a little ‘ranty’. Didn’t mean to.


…then I don’t *want* to see them in it.

I wonder how Mayer feels about his TWOK script being julienned and incorporated into STID.

34. crazydaystrom – September 27, 2014

One particularly good thing about Shatner and Nimoy having substantial parts in the next movie is that their scenes aren’t likely to be action scenes. We might actually get some dramatic scenes between Kirk and Spock that go on for minutes and without the shots cutting every 10 seconds.

Not the best Star Trek. JJ did it way better.

@30. Cygnus-X1

Thanks for the link.

So it looks like that the “rumor started by an idiot blogger”, as Phil put it, was actually TRUE :-)

Shatner was contacted by none other than JJ Abrams himself according to Shatner.

@ 36. Son of Captain Garth – September 27, 2014

“I wonder how Mayer feels about his TWOK script being julienned and incorporated into STID.”




Guess it is time for a new article!

Meyer, in the ST II Director’s Commentary, relayed a kindred story about how he was getting so frustrated with Shatner’s way of saying the “fire” line in the early Khan nebula fight scene. Shatner was, as Meyer explained, was going way over the top, and he cut every take and kept trying to explain to Shatner the way he was delivering the line wouldn’t work with the scene.

Well, Meyer realized he wasn’t going to convince Shatner, so he just took the tack of basically exhausting him – the scene was (apparently) filmed late in the day, and took take after take after take, mostly because Shatner wouldn’t say the line the way Meyer wanted it. Then, apparently in an effort to be somewhat sarcastic,combined with the fact that the long filming day was taking its toll, Shatner does the next take and just delivers the line deadpan – but it backfired, because it was *exactly* what Meyer wanted. And that was the take that made it into the movie.

Loved that story. Meyer spins a really good story, too…

TWOK and TUC are the best, both Meyer films, coincidence? No.

The Undiscovered Country is still the best.

Im not sure if Nick planned on killing Spock for good, or that Star Trek II, III, and IV were planned ahead of time as a sort of trilogy and Meyer to bring Spock back. If the plan was to bring Spock back, in my opinion, the remember scene is great, but the torpedo coffin should have been left out of the end of TWOK as well as the opening of Star Trek III. The remember would have kept fans guessing a sort of “well, what the hell does that mean,” kept us guessing, if he was truly dead or not. The shots of the coffin are (exactly what Meyer said) “a dry hustle.” Its distasteful and takes away all mystery.

The new Star Trek movies suffer from the same things just shoved in, just like Kahn magic blood. Kirk won’t die, we won’t think of anything out of left field to bring him back, just Khan’s blood. Its a sort of “thats good enough” move.

Then again we always know the crew will get out of a sticky situation. One of my non Star Trek friends and I watched an episode. And he mentions, you know they’ll always get out of it. I said “exactly, but its always been about how they get out of it, how its executed.” Its not about the destination but the journey.

# 36. Son of Captain Garth – September 27, 2014

” I wonder how Mayer feels about his TWOK script being julienned and incorporated into STID.” — Son of Captain Garth

Since Meyer did exactly that to 5 or six other scripts to produce “his” TWoK script, he’s probably not as put out about it as you suspect?

So it seems that Mr. Orci should prepare for interesting debates with Mr. Shatner IF he is offered a role in the next Star Trek ;)

All of this was in his autobiography. Great read, great guy.
Class act.

I think Nick Meyer is very talented & did some amazing work on ST especially but I can also detect in this interview an awkward side its no surprise he did not have any ST involvement after 1992 even though he was offered a few TNG movies as he is also a friend of Berman’s.

Movies, at their best, are an art form formed by the consensus and cooperation. Like an orchestra, all the elements must be in harmony, or at least enough so an audience misses the deficiencies. Also, like an orchestra, tech and PR are a huge part of the equation, and its rare that any o e person can contain all the talent and knowhow to rule the whole thing. Trust is one piece of consensus, and hierarchy is another. When it works, everyone hammers a film into a shape that is beautiful…perhaps even immortal. We were lucky enough to see Trek return to form in “The Wrath of Khan,” and even surpass TOS in many ways. That’s why gratittude will always be one emotion I feel when I think of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

Nick Meyer and Harve Bennett did such a wonderful job revitalizing the franchise. Paramount didn’t know what to do with Trek after TMP came out. These guys got the franchise going in a big way.

Also, I think its so classy that boborci keeps reading and posting on here despite the fact that half the people on here are not terribly kind to him.