Inside George Takei And Walter Koenig's Relationship On Star Trek

George Takei and Walter Koenig are best known for their roles in the original series of "Star Trek," which ran from 1966 to 1969. With their portrayals of Pavel Chekov (Koenig) and Mr. Sulu (Takei), the legendary show catapulted the actors into the spotlight as they took part in the starship Enterprise's galactic mission. Alongside other TV greats, like Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock, and William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk (via Britannica), the on-screen chemistry that made Star Trek a stellar show belied the behind-the-scenes conflicts that still garner media attention.

William Shatner is often the subject of much gossip and candor by the actors with whom he worked. Having many onset conflicts, the actor was noted for his enormous ego and even jealousies toward actor Leonard Nimoy, whose success as the pointy-eared half-Vulcan sometimes outshined Shatner. Takei's criticism of Shatner brought him much attention, as Takei admitted the actor was unfriendly toward him and showed much self-absorption on the set (via Screen Rant). But Takei was not always on friendly terms with his other co-stars, having conflicts with Walter Koenig when the actor first made it onto the show, per Mother Jones.

The Importance of Sulu and Chekov

Director Gene Rodenberry's concept for Star Trek involved promoting diversity, which was a revolutionary idea for television in the 1960s. In the show's unaired pilot, Rodenberry attempted to place his future wife, Majel Barrett, in the role of the first officer, which offended the studio enough that they performed an overhaul of Rodenberry's original concept, with Spock as the only character from the pilot remaining on the bridge (via IMDb). But there was still an attempt to diversify the bridge crew, with the late African American actress Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura, Japanese American actor George Takei as Sulu, and Walter Koenig playing the Russian helmsman, Pavel Chekov (via History).

In the summer of 1967, Koenig joined the crew as Chekov when Takei took a break to play Captain Nim in the John Wayne film, "The Green Berets." Since the actor couldn't be back in time for the start of Season 2, Koenig was given many of the lines written for Takei. However, when he made it back to the set, Takei had nothing but animosity toward the actor that he thought stole his role (via Mother Jones).

Where Takei and Koenig's Relationship is Now

After some time, George Takei warmed up to Walter Koenig. The two had to share a dressing room due to a shortage in the studio and Takei started to accept Koenig as a friend, per Mother Jones. Although he didn't come out as gay until 2005 (via The Washington Post), many actors who worked alongside Takei were aware of his homosexuality, with Koenig among them. One day, with a grin on his face, Koenig pointed out a group of young, attractive extras to Takei while hanging out on set. Takei knew at that moment that Koenig was aware that he was gay and supported him (via Mother Jones). When Takei got married in 2008, he chose Koenig as his best man (via CBS). 

Koenig grew apart from many of his former co-stars over the years, Takei included. He told Hollywood Soap Box that he and Takei were "in the same boat" on the show, since they " ... promoted the story rather than promoted the characters." Although the pair drifted apart over the years, Koenig still has fond memories of their amicable relationship, per Hollywood Soap Box.