WILLIAM SHATNER AND LEONARD NIMOY ARE CRANKING IT UP to warp speed. Standing on a stage in the Seattle Convention Center before 5,000 transported fans, they have just launched into another story about their offscreen high jinks on the ’60s TV series Star Trek.
“Leonard had this bicycle,” Shatner recalls, pacing as intensely as Capt. James T. Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise. “He always had to be the first one into the studio commissary for lunch. Always. I resented that, Leonard,” he says, locking his piercing, phaser gaze on an emotionlessly Spock-like Nimoy. “So one day I put his bike in my trailer…for safekeeping. I told him where it was, but I forgot to mention that one of my Dobermans was in there with it. Dobermans are very territorial, you know.”
“This is not a nice man,” Nimoy rumbles, and the crowd roars with delight. Spock isn’t fooling them. After boldly going where few actors have gone before—through a cult-classic series (now in endless reruns), its six spinoff movies and now on a near sellout 11-city cross-country 25 Year Mission Tour—Nimoy and Shatner, both 61, have never been closer.
Southern California neighbors, Shatner and his second wife, Marcy, and Nimoy and his second wife, Susan, socialize frequently. Onstage the guys ad-lib with the telepathic precision of a Vulcan mind meld. “I can see what he’s up to, and I can get on the ride with him, says Nimoy, as the two hop a commuter flight to their next stardate, in San Mateo, Calif. Both even have the same taste in sandwiches (fried egg, toasted rye and “big slices of onion,” says Shatner). And each is effusive in his praise of the other. “There’s a toughness about him I envy,” says Shatner of Nimoy.
“He’s a very passionate guy,” Nimoy responds. “He plunges into stuff. He’s got his books [Shatner’s TekWar series of sci-fi novels and his planned Trek memoirs, recently grabbed by HarperCollins for $750,000] and his horses [which he raises in Versailles, Ky]. I like to tease him: ‘Bill, why don’t you do something with your life?”
Nimoy is no slouch either. Among other projects, he is currently working on a screenplay about 19th-century Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker. Yet it’s he and Shatner who seem joined at the hip. Believe, a novel (co-authored by Shatner and writer Michael Tobias) teaming escape artist Harry Houdini and Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, will be turned into a play with Shatner as Houdini and Nimoy as Conan Doyle. In Seattle, as part of their stage act, Shatner “offers” the role to his old Trekmate, and Nimoy appears to mull it over.
“Would you call me sir?” he asks Shatner.
“If that’s what it takes, Leonard, then yes, I will.”
“Good,” replies Captain Kirk’s former first officer, “because I’ve been calling you sir for 25 years.”