Star Trek crew on what made the show special

The cast gave answers to frequently asked Star Trek questions.

For the entire time that Star Trek has been around, people have been dying to ask the cast some questions. Luckily, many of their answers get written down, recorded for posterity in newspapers and websites worldwide.

Some questions get repeated a ton. "What makes the show special?" "What do you make of your success?" "What's it like being a part of something so huge?"

Here, for your edification and reading pleasure, is a compilation of answers Kirk and crew gave to those questions. Join us in taking a look back on the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise and what their real-life counterparts thought about being onboard!

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1. William Shatner


"We still do not know why Star Trek is such a success. [It] has to do with the cast, the plot, the basic idea behind the story, the action, the humor. There's something in the alchemy of what we do together, and no one really knows what it is."

- Fort Worth Star-Telegram 08 Jun 1989

2. George Takei


"I think the reason for its success is just chance and good fortune. It was just dumb luck. Star Trek came at a time when the audience wasn't ready, and it was canceled when the audience was ready, so there was an air of cause celebre about it. [...] I think it prepared the way for Star Wars and the whole science-fiction movie boom."

- Fort Worth Star-Telegram 08 Jun 1989

3. DeForest Kelley


"In the beginning, I was turned down for this series. Gene Roddenberry wanted me for the role, however, and I was signed for seven of the first 13 episodes. The part wasn't supposed to be much. I put everything I could into it. But even then I was surprised when I wound up in all the shows. It's tough to get good exposure on a show with seven regular performers, all hoping to do the same. But we've fairly well worked it out, and each of us seems to have his own set of fans."

- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 15 Dec 1968

4. James Doohan


"When I do one of those 'Beam me up, Scotty' joke-commercials, playing on an image, I'm doing it because it's expected of me, and because I appreciate that. Boris Karloff once said that the Frankenstein monster, which typed him as a horror actor for decades, was the best friend he ever had. Scotty has typed me and all for the better."

- Fort Worth Star-Telegram 08 Jun 1989

5. Walter Koenig


"I'm in science fiction whether or not I'm doing Star Trek. I'm glad of it. The success has to do with innovative concepts in a generic context. We do generic accessible science fiction, and our characters have become part of an extended American family."

- Fort Worth Star-Telegram 08 Jun 1989

6. Nichelle Nichols


"It was the philosophy Gene had, of space travel, peaceful exploration and non-interference with other cultures. They were human beings with all the attitudes of human beings, but who had transcended the need to annihilate each other."

The Bangor Daily News 16 Aug. 1991

7. Leonard Nimoy


"We have to have recognition in my business. Without this recognition, I don't think I would be working as much as I do. I was an actor without public recognition before Star Trek, and I know what that was like and I would rather have it this way. I'm a really lucky man. I don't have to do anything I don't want to do. Not many people can say that in today's world."

The Miami Herald 03 Mar 1978

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JJ614 11 months ago
First of all, I love Dee. But he has given like 5 different conflicting answers to that question. One interview on youtube, he tells that Gene ALWAYS wanted him in the series and gave him his choice of which character to play - Kirk, Spock, or Doc. So I just don't know WHAT to believe. Second, Bill announced just a few years ago he HAS NEVER WATCHED THE SHOWS. And in his interview with Kate Mulgrew for his portion of the documentaries, "The Captains," (and others) he pretty much admits he thought the fans were crazy (his book Get a Life), that when people came up to him all the time and told him how Star Trek changed their lives, especially their choice of career, he never believed them. Not until the pilot who flew him to England to interview Patrick Stewart for said documentary told him how ST changed HIS life. SMH. Shat was a trained Shakespearean actor and pretty much had disdain for the entire thing. So yeah, he certainly never got it for 50 years what made the series special. It took years for Nimoy and he to become friends because Shat was NOT a nice person on that set. According to other cast members (and other documentaries) he was jealous and egotistical. And ran over everyone else.
JJ614 JJ614 11 months ago
In other words, Star Trek became something special in SPITE of Shat. And millions of people love(d) Kirk in spite of Shat's attitude. But I was 13 in 1966. I read everything that was written EVERYWHERE about the show and that set atmosphere and the cast. Fortunately, everyone else got along great. EVERYONE loved Nimoy and Dee, who were best friends all their lives. (Nimoy cried as he watched Karl Urban recreate Bones for ST 2009 - Karl was the ONLY actor in the new movies that had even watched, much less loved ST growing up. Nimoy said he captured Bones' character perfectly.) I admire the heck out of Nichelle because instead of hating 'Uhura,' she used her character to help NASA and inspire more women and WOC to enter the space program. 57 years ago, we didn't know we'd EVER get to see any of those episodes again. No VCRs, no cable. Just one and done (unless we caught the summer rerun, and that was the age of 24+ episodes a season, so they weren't all rerun.) If 13-year-old me had realized how deeply ST was going to affect my life and how 57 years later, TOS would no longer stand for "The ONLY Series" - and I'd own and wear out several copies of them and somehow love the show even more now than then, I'd have never believed it. But - here I am. Still watching. And sometimes still catching something I missed the other thousand times I watched.
KJExpress JJ614 11 months ago
Thanks for the interesting perspective. I've only seen the first ST movie with the new cast (playing the original characters) and I was also struck by how much the actor playing Dr. McCoy captured the essence of his character. The others were good, but I didn't get the same feeling from them. I never got into any of the other ST spin-offs, but to this day I still enjoy ST-TOS, no matter how many times I have seen it. My brother feels the same way. I just got off the phone with him and he had to mute his TV for some reason while watching an episode recently, but he said it didn't matter because he knew all the dialogue anyway. 😄
JJ614 KJExpress 11 months ago
I believe had Chris Pine been born decades before 1980 and cast as the original James Kirk, TOS would have NEVER been cancelled - it would have lasted until the actors agreed they were done. Pine gets along with everyone on his films and is a very underappreciated actor, giving every role 1701% of his abilities, including physically. (His black eye at the end of Beyond was real. He had that in common with Nimoy, who accidentally received a black eye in the episode "A Private Little War" from Booker Bradshaw, who played Dr. M'Benga.) But Pine refuses to campaign for academy votes. He seems to just want to do what he wants to do, now that he has his own production company and has directed his first film. He often walks off one set and on to the other the next day - back-to-back-to-back projects for months on end. Anyway, with his experience, I wish CBS/VIACOM/Paramount would just sign Pine to direct ST 4. Their lack of $$ has lost them several directors already.
JJ614 10 months ago
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kb7rky 11 months ago
I've met Walter, George, James, and Bill (in that order). I'm kind of sad I'll never get to meet Nichelle, Leonard, or DeForest. Walter, George, and Jimmy (he insisted on being called that) all told some wonderful stories about their time on Star Trek. Didn't get to talk to Bill, though, as he was very busy signing autographs. I'm hoping to get to the Star Trek Set Tour one of these days when he's there to, hopefully, get to chat with him.
Runeshaper 11 months ago
Very insightful article, MeTV! Thank you!
BlobEBlobfan 11 months ago
Not gonna lie, I watched because my older brother had it on. But now I like it because like a lot of the early shows that still hold up today, this was well made, had great casting and the actors did everything with total sincerity - no matter what crazy lines they were given!
healingmindn 11 months ago
Star Trek was in a time warp: The right formula for not exactly the right time, but it caught up with itself.
Bapa1 11 months ago
If I could've asked any cast member a question, I would ask what episode when they first got the script and read it was 1: "Wow, this is great!" and 2: "Lord, this is terrible"
Spaceseed 11 months ago
I was in 9th grade when ST TOS came out. My favorite show which I never missed.
Andybandit 11 months ago
I love ST:TOS, and all the other ST Shows that came after that. STTNG, STDSN, STV, and STE.
Pacificsun 11 months ago
A good article, well written, to the point. Interesting spread of opinions, and philosophy. DK, quoted closest to ST’s cancellation. LN, 10 years later (in the decade of ST Cons & growing a franchise). WS, JD, WK & NN, 23 years later. And curiously suggesting their personalities (innate wisdom). WS, WK & NN, most elegant explanations. DK, LN & JD, most practical. GT, most pragmatic but also missing the mark.

Mr. Shatner’s idea of chemistry (alchemy) is what the success of any memorable film requires. The three elements of purpose, effect and relatability. ST:TOS offered something for everyone. Perhaps, Gene Roddenberry’s secret. Not just from being an excellent screenwriter. But curious about what makes people tick. And then meaning his talent for 𝒎𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒈 viewers into finding out why, as well. They can be grateful for all that went into creating ST:TOS’s value. Rare, but indicative of the Golden Age of television. And responsible for why viewers appreciate Classic TV in the first place!! That standard can be applied to the many we watch today!

Thank you MeTV Staff, for a thoughtful story!!
KJExpress 11 months ago
Interesting comments from the crew. Thanks for sharing, MeTV. 🖖😐
texasluva 11 months ago
Star Trek was so far ahead of it's time. It put the rest of us in outer space and of course the Apollo program didn't hurt it any. It gave us more reasons to exist. Go where Man has not gone before. We pictured what warp drive, energizing and the thoughts of not only the crew but other aliens. It was just a new thing that most of us could not wait to watch the next episodes. We all remember Captain Kirk fighting one alien or another to the death. Like below.

STAR TREK: THE VIDEO GAME -- Shatner vs. Gorn -
KJExpress texasluva 11 months ago
That video was so funny. I had never seen it before. I used to hate the Gorn episode, but it has since grown on me.
JJ614 KJExpress 11 months ago
(Same here, and seeing that video when it was new actually helped me finally like it. All the time, Spock's saying "GooOOOoooo. GooooOOOOooo..." as he watched Kirk on the viewscreen logic out how to create a weapon, runs through my head even now when I feel that way watching something working! BTW - there is an episode of "Hollywood Weapons" Fact or Fiction" that shows on Circle network of Terry Schappert testing whether Kirk's weapon would actually work.)
KJExpress JJ614 11 months ago
Thanks for the link. I'll have to check it out. 🙂
LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Good article. It was a pleasure to read, not sure on the edification part though(mmm...maybe a little).
Not the same series- or series in general- had a quote by William Shatner that was enjoyable (jmo).

- Airplane II: The Sequel 10 Dec 1982

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