William Shatner's Height Insecurity Forced A Change To Star Trek's Court Martial Episode

William Shatner is known for a lot of things, including but not limited to embodying the role of Captain Kirk with an impressively hammy sense of machismo in "Star Trek: The Original Series," playing a man haunted by a figure on the wing of a plane in one of the most famous episodes of "The Twilight Zone," and penning a /News column one time (yes, seriously).

The mythos surrounding Shatner and his legendarily big personality still grows, as the actor has remained a popular presence on TV and in film even into his 90s. Plenty of delightful Shatner apocrypha floats around the internet, along with some chaotic set stories and confirmed instances of him being a tool. One anecdote from his "Star Trek" co-star Win De Lugo, which appeared in the book "These Are The Voyages: Season One," falls somewhere in the middle of the delight-to-tool spectrum. In it, De Lugo recalls a scene in which Shatner conspicuously called "Cut!" only to seemingly request a reconfigured scene to make himself appear taller.

A conspicuously tall guest star

De Lugo appeared in the season 1 "Star Trek" episode "Court Martial," playing a Starfleet officer named Timothy. According to "These Are The Voyages: Season One," a 2013 book by Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn, De Lugo recalled being called to set to film a scene in the Officer's Lounge without much preparation. "[Director] Marc Daniels says, 'Win, you stand here. Now, all the guys in the red shirts are your crew,'" De Lugo explained. "'You're the same as Kirk; a commander of a Starship and you're meeting him at this bar far out in space.'" The actor says he didn't actually know any of the backstory Daniels was telling him, as he had only been given his character's script pages. It was years later, when he was featured on a trading card with the title of Lieutenant, that De Lugo says he found out the rank he was meant to be playing.

The former "Star Trek" guest star continued: "It was clear that my character is trying to intimidate Kirk ... Shatner comes in and we do a rehearsal, and I was surprised how small he is compared to me." The way De Lugo recalls it, Shatner was in the middle of a line in which Kirk spoke to Timothy when he suddenly stopped the shot. "He says, "Timothy,' and starts to say something about the old gang at the Academy, and then, as he looks up at me, he calls, 'Cut!' He calls it," De Lugo reminisced. He said that Shatner then "just reaches out and grabs Marc Daniels and pulls him over and whispers to him," and whatever the actor whispered inspired Daniels to call for a break and send the actors to their trailers so "some changes" could be made.

Bring in the stools!

Hilariously, the only change upon De Lugo's return seemed to be one that allowed for a smaller height difference between Shatner and his co-star. "When they called me back, I see they've changed the set around a little and all of a sudden there's a number of bar stools," he told interviewers. "And Marc says, 'Win, you sit here.' I'm thinking, 'Okay, I get it; I'm too tall." Shatner undoubtedly is neither the first nor the last actor to request a more even sightline, but the encounter was no doubt memorable for De Lugo — in part because Shatner seemed to have a level of control over the scene one would expect from the filmmaker alone.

As "These Are The Voyages: Season One" points out, Shatner himself spoke on the record about his tendency to take charge on set. "I've gotten a great insight into the omnipotence of the series lead," Shatner apparently told TV Guide at the time. "Everybody does his best not to upset the star." Shatner called his lead role on the show "an almost unique position few in the entertainment world achieve," before noting that "it's like absolute power." That sounds more like Kirk's evil doppelganger talking to me, but the "Trek" tome generously points out that Shatner was experiencing problems in his marriage and a demanding work schedule at the time, and De Lugo says he sometimes also called "cut" when his eyes got watery on set. Still, it's kind of incredible to know that the actor once allegedly used his absolute power for something as simple as trying to look a few inches taller.