Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime is a 2001 American documentary film in which actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy discuss the Star Trek science fiction franchise and its effects on their lives.
Shatner and Nimoy portrayed the characters James T. Kirk and Spock respectively in the 1960s Star Trek television series, the 1970s animated television series, and their film sequels.
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy respectively portrayed James T. Kirk and Spock in Star Trek, first in the 1960s television series (later re-titled Star Trek: The Original Series), then in the 1970s television series Star Trek: The Animated Series, and subsequently in several Star Trek films between 1979 and 1994. In Mind Meld, they discuss the Star Trek media franchise and its enduring success. The film is, except for the title sequence, composed entirely of Shatner and Nimoy in conversation. Many of the topics they discuss were inspired by online questions from fans. The film starts in Nimoy’s backyard, where the two sit on patio chairs, and then moves into Nimoy’s library, which is filled with souvenirs.
The film focuses on the effects Star Trek had on the lives of Shatner and Nimoy, with each actor interviewing the other about his fame. They talk about Star Trek’s origins and the death of DeForest Kelley, who had portrayed Leonard McCoy in both The Original Series and The Animated Series. Shatner and Nimoy also discuss interactions between themselves and others on the set of Star Trek, including conflicts. Both Shatner and Nimoy describe having had strained relationships with Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, and attest to other members of the Original Series cast disliking Shatner. Only one of these cast members is referred to by name: Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Nyota Uhura. “I never fully comprehended what it was that was bothering them”, says Shatner.
Both men describe Star Trek as having put personal pressures on them that negatively affected their family lives. The conversation is mostly guided by Shatner, who prompts Nimoy to discuss issues he had regarding the legitimacy of consistently portraying an extraterrestrial, and other struggles with his acting career at the time. “It took me a while,” Nimoy says, “but I got rid of all that anger when I realised that I never had to worry about work ever since Star Trek went on the air.” Nimoy reveals that he was an alcoholic at the time of the original Star Trek series – something that was not publicly known before Mind Meld. He developed “a major drinking habit, probably during the second or third year” of the series, he says, and had his secretary bring him alcohol in paper cups at the end of each day of filming. Nimoy suggests that he became dependent on alcohol because of the deterioration of his marriage to Sandra Zober, his first wife. He says that, since divorcing Zober in 1987 and marrying actress Susan Bay in 1988, he has been a teetotaller.
Shatner says that acting in Star Trek was “life-consuming” and left him “barely any time for family”, and that this was the reason for his divorce from Gloria Rand, his first wife. He describes a subsequent succession of sexual partners, including, he says, Star Trek actresses. He also talks about the death of his father, Joseph Shatner, and of his third wife, Nerine Kidd, who accidentally drowned in a pool in 1999, losing a battle with alcoholism. Shatner recalls that Nimoy had expressed concern about Kidd’s alcoholism and warned him about marrying her. Another topic is Nimoy’s fine-art photography, which deals with spirituality and sensuality. Both Shatner and Nimoy say that, while they are glad that Star Trek became successful, they wish their subsequent fame had encroached less on their privacy. They also describe having been typecast as a result of their roles in Star Trek, and say that this has had repercussions on their respective acting careers. Shatner recounts his initial surprise that, at science fiction conventions, the fans seem to like each other more than they like the science fiction actors. The film concludes with Nimoy putting his arm around Shatner’s shoulder and saying, “You’re my best friend.”
- Shatner and Nimoy talk about differences they had with Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, and about the strained relationships between Shatner and some of the other cast members.
- It was in this film that Nimoy first publicly revealed that he had struggled with alcoholism while he was acting in the original television series.
- Shatner talks about the death of his third wife, Nerine Kidd, who accidentally drowned in a pool in 1999 after suffering from alcoholism.
- Mind Meld was produced to advertise Shatner’s personal website.
- Filming took place at Nimoy’s home on 05 September 2001, and Billy West narrated the title sequence.
- The film’s title refers to a fictional practice in Star Trek – a mind meld is a telepathic link that Vulcans are able to create with other organisms.
- Mind Meld was released for sale on Shatner’s website on 06 November 2001, coinciding with the release of the director’s cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
- Mind Meld attracted some notoriety because of an unintended sound in one scene that became a popular subject of flatulence humour among Star Trek fans and on morning zoo radio programs. Shatner denied being the source of this sound in multiple interviews; he and Mind Meld’s director, Peter Jaysen, attributed it to equipment on set.
- The film received mixed reviews from critics. Scott Brown of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an “F”, and said that the only people likely to watch the film were extreme Star Trek fans and people interested in hearing Shatner’s supposed flatulence.
- Laurence Lerman of Video Business praised the film for not “rehash[ing] anecdotes that have long been staples of Star Trek conventions and behind-the-scenes memoirs”, and instead for dealing with such topics as alcoholism, career difficulties, and conflicts on the set of Star Trek.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Peter Jaysen.
- Producer(s): William Shatner, Scott Zakarin, Rich Tackenberg, and Peter Jaysen.
- Narrator(s): Billy West.
- Cinematography: Adam Biggs.
- Editor(s): Mark Panik.
- Production: Creative Light Entertainment.
- Distributor(s): Creative Light Entertainment, Film Volt, Astro Distribution, Creative Axa Co. Ltd, and Summer Hill Films.
- Release Date: 06 November 2001.
- Running Time: 75 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.