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William Shatner says he loved Leonard Nimoy 'like a brother'

'Star Trek' co-star reflects on friend's life during charity event in Palm Beach

William Shatner is photographed with his wife at the 58th International Red Cross Ball at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.
William Shatner is photographed with his wife at the 58th International Red Cross Ball at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. (Peter Burke/Local10.com)

PALM BEACH, Fla. – On the day after his friend and "Star Trek" co-star Leonard Nimoy died, William Shatner spoke fondly of the man he "loved like a brother for a long time."

Shatner reflected on Nimoy's life Saturday night while attending the 58th International Red Cross Ball at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.

Nimoy died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Friday in Los Angeles at the age of 83.

"He had a good, long life," Shatner said of Nimoy. "He did a lot of things. He inspired a lot of people. He was loved by a lot of people and he loved a lot of people."

Shatner starred as Capt. James T. Kirk alongside Nimoy's Spock in the 1960s television show, animated series and six feature films that followed. Their characters shared the screen a total of 107 times between the show's 1966 debut and the 1991 release of "Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country."

"It's sad that you have to be reminded that life is that short," Shatner said.

Earlier in the day, Shatner turned to Twitter to express his disappointment that he wouldn't be back in time to attend Nimoy's funeral.

"I feel really awful," Shatner wrote. "Here I am doing charity work and one of my dearest friends is being buried."

Nimoy directed Shatner in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," while Shatner made his directorial debut with "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier."

Shatner said he and Nimoy were given the "privilege of having a vote on the material" in their movies.

"My thought was 'Star Trek' goes in search of God, so that was the genesis of my film," Shatner said.

Nimoy wanted to focus on ecology and the future of the Earth, Shatner said, "so he worked with the idea of whales (in the fourth film)."

Shatner said their relationship as actors sometimes made it difficult when they took their turns behind the lens, but their respect and admiration for each other never diminished.

"Being an actor and acting with someone is like having a friendly conversation. I don't tell you what to say and you're just asking me questions. You don't tell me what to say. So as actors we're not directing each other," Shatner said. "But then if you were the head of this Red Cross organization, you might whisper to me, 'Mention the Red Cross' as a piece of direction, and now suddenly our relationship is different. This guy from the Red Cross has told me what to do, and that alters our relationship."

Now 83, Shatner said he's staying busy and hasn't given much thought to the fact that he's the oldest of the four remaining principal cast members from the original show.

"I'm very much in the swim of life, so I'm not thinking any dire things at all," he said.

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