Montreal-born thespian William Shatner was hardly a newbie when Star Trek premiered on September 8, 1966. He’d been appearing in episode television for over a decade by that point, including memorable roles on The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. But it was Trek that made him a household name, and it was there that Shatner started cultivating a reputation as one of the most ostentatious, egotistical, and downright ornery actors in the business. Legend has it that even his much-imitated pauses were a way of diverting focus from other actors and dragging out his own lines for as long as possible. As frustrating and annoying as Shatner’s on-set antics just have been for his exasperated costars, they have been the source of some great bloopers. Shatner just might be the all-time king of the outtakes, and some of his best worst moments live on thanks to YouTube.
These vintage Star Trek flubs from the mid to late 1960s show that humorlessness is not among Shatner’s faults. Indeed, the actor seems prone to cracking wise when things go astray, which is often. One interesting moment in this reel comes from the 1967 episode “The Deadly Years,” in which Shatner was buried under layers of old-age makeup. In a moment of exasperation, he addresses associate producer Robert Justman directly:
Bob! Bob, don’t cut! Bob Justman, I’m going home now, and I’m going to spend three hours at the makeup table putting this fucking makeup back on! And it’s your fault!
He seems to be kidding. But is he really?
As the decades wore on, Shatner only became crankier and more difficult to work with. By then, he was a popular subject for impressionists, and he had some very definite ideas about how certain words were pronounced. One of his most famous outtakes comes from the voice recording sessions for a 1993 PC game called Star Trek: Judgement Rites. Shatner had a simple line to say: “Spock, sabotage the system.” But he didn’t want to say “sabotage” the boring, regular way. He wanted to pronounce it “sabotaage,” sort of like “succotash.” The result is a classic blooper.
But maybe the funniest Shatner outtake of all time is one that shock jock Howard Stern shared with his listeners. It seems that Captain James Tiberius Kirk was recording a radio ad when an overly ambitious engineer decided to give him some extra, unwanted instructions on how to say his lines. Shatner gets revenge on this poor man in the most passive-aggressive way possible. Far from melting down or losing his cool, the actor stays in total control of the situation, and it is the engineer who becomes a quivering lump of jelly.