When Leonard Nimoy agreed to direct “Star Trek III,” he faced a dilemma. For years, he had worked alongside William Shatner and other Star Trek cast members as a fellow actor.
But in his debut as director of a movie, he was suddenly thrust into the position of overseeing his former peers.
Tension spread across the set. Shatner and others wondered how they’d respond to Nimoy as the man in charge.
The cast was particularly curious about how Shatner would handle taking orders from Nimoy. But the shrewd director had a plan to allay everyone’s anxiety.
While filming a scene in which Captain Kirk learns of his son’s death, a conflict erupted between Shatner and Nimoy on how to play it. They started to argue.
Nimoy asked the crew to leave the set, except for Shatner. Alone with his longtime colleague, Nimoy engaged in a shouting match that grew louder and louder. At one point, he pounded his fist on the table and yelled, “You’re just the actor … So go stand over there and shut up!”
He knew the rest of the cast would eavesdrop. And it was all for show.
In truth, Nimoy and Shatner were just pretending to squabble. Eventually, they started to crack up.
When the cast and crew reconvened, the mood lightened and everyone felt relieved. They accepted Nimoy’sand welcomed his input.
“Star Trek III” proved a box-office success and Nimoy went on to direct another Star Trek film and other hits.
— Adapted from Leonard, William Shatner, Thomas Dunne Books.