For the first time in more than 50 years, William Shatner and Christopher Plummer shared the Festival stage at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival on Monday.
Shatner, whose new sitcom $#*! My Dad Says will air on CBS later this month, was in town to interview Plummer, currently starring in The Tempest, for The Captains, a documentary he's shooting about the men and women who have starred in the Star Trek franchise.
Shatner, 79, and Plummer, 80, famously faced off as Captain Kirk and Klingon General Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but the two have known each other since their early days in Montreal. At first, the actors' careers mirrored each other - they co-starred in radio plays in French and English, then moved to work in theatre in Ottawa, and finally ended up at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in its early years.
While at Stratford in 1956, Shatner understudied Plummer in Henry V and quickly got his chance to step up to the plate when Plummer was briefly felled by a kidney stone.
According to Plummer's memoir In Spite of Myself, Shatner "scored full marks as Henry" and made the role his own. "Ignoring all my moves, he had made sure he did everything I didn't do - stood up where I had sat down, lay down where I had stood up," wrote Plummer. "I knew then that the SOB was going to be a 'star'"
On Monday, Shatner got to give his version of the story, according to a Stratford Shakespeare Festival spokesperson who was at the privately filmed reunion. Apparently, Shatner was called up to play Henry before he had had a full run as an understudy - so it wasn't that he was trying to perform different movements than Plummer's Henry, but that he had no idea what movements he was supposed to be doing.
After his interview with Plummer, Shatner and his wife, Elizabeth Anderson, went on a tour of the festival's costume warehouse, where he saw the jacket he wore in that fateful performance. He then went to the archives, where he saw the resume he had submitted to the festival as a young actor, and was taken to the Stratford airport where he took off in a helicopter for his next destination.