In the second part of the TrekMovie.com exclusive interview with Leonard Nimoy, the actor talks about his thoughts on the new Spock (Zachary Quinto), William Shatner not being in the film (as of now) and J.J. Abrams abilities as a director…and ‘technobabble.’
full interview below
TrekMovie.com: What are your thoughts on Zachary Quinto as the new Spock?
Leonard Nimoy: When J.J. sent me a compilation of his work on DVD I was very impressed. He is a very solid actor. To find someone who looks right is tricky enough, but to find someone who looks right and is as talented as he is I think is doubly effective. The danger would be to find someone who looks like me, but does not have the sense of the interior life that is necessary for the Spock character.
TrekMovie.com: So is it true that you and William Shatner have some kind of approval deal for the new Kirk and Spock?
Leonard Nimoy: I don’t think it is accurate to say we have approval as much as consultation rights. And J.J. did consult with me and it was a very easy call. I don’t know what would have happened if I said “J.J. this doesn’t work for me.” That would have been a yellow flag if not a red flag, but not contractually. It is just a question of mutual respect and understanding of what we are trying to bring to this project. But I think I can remember exactly what I said to J.J. I told him “not only does he look like me, but he has an inner life” – which is essential to that character.
TrekMovie.com: So over the last weeks William Shatner kind of let the cat out of the bag regarding your being in the film. He recounted some phone calls between you guys with you ribbing him, but he is known to be a joker so were his accounts accurate?
Leonard Nimoy: Well I didn’t rib him, but what he said was accurate. We spoke on the phone. I had read the script and he asked me if he was in it and I said “no.” And that is pretty much the way it went. You are right he jokes a lot and he said something like “I reached through the phone and grabbed him by the throat” and that sort of thing, but that is just Bill. I know that he is disappointed. I don’t know what the future is. I have no idea what J.J.’s plans are and I know that J.J. said that they are still trying to find a way to put him in the movie, but I am not the person to talk to about that.
TrekMovie.com: Have you talked to J.J. about your thoughts on Bill being in the film?
Leonard Nimoy: It is not up to me. I told J.J. that I was with Bill in Philidelphia last weekend and that Bill was disappointed that as of now he is not in the film. He was reported as being ‘furious’ and that is not accurate at all. I think he is appropriately disappointed, but I think he has come to a kind of understanding. After all, and Bill and I talked about this, the fact is his character did die in [Star Trek:] Generations. He said “ya but you died at the end of [Star Trek] II.” And I said “but I was resurrected…that is the difference between you and I.” [laughs] I also said to him that if I had been in Generations I would not have let him die…and that is a fact. I thought it was gratuitous. I didn’t see why…what was the point? I thought it was a waste of a very important character.
TrekMovie.com: You have said that you are playing the original and now older Spock and you are saying that Kirk cannot be in the film because he died in Generations. The implication here is that you are playing Spock in a future time period after Generations right?
Leonard Nimoy: You are digging for story points [laughs] you are doing a very good job of it but I am not going to comment any further.
TrekMovie.com: Did you see Mission: Impossible: III? As a fellow director what did you think of J.J. Abrams first feature?
Leonard Nimoy: I thought J.J. did a great job. I go to some of these movies today and I have to turn to my wife and say “what is going on here.” [laughs] These movies being made today, like Mission and some of the others…Tansformers which you probably know I was involved in originally. It is amazing to me these back stories are coming out of the closet now. The Mission project, the Star Trek project, the Transformers project…I have been involved with them for a long long time. Anyway, I said to some friends in San Diego that the stories we did in the days when I was involved in making these films and were much more linear than they are today. They are much more complex today. The audiences that go to see these films readily accept the complexities, more than I can frankly. I am not always sure what is going on and what people are trying to do. There is a line in Mission where the heavy says to Tom Cruise something like “it’s complicated.” Where he is explaining to him what the real game is…and I laughed out loud and said “damn right it’s complicated!”
TrekMovie.com: That’s true, but in that film Abrams made an interesting choice with regards to the central plot revolving around the ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ or the film’s MacGuffin. It was never explained. I always thought that was a daring choice to not overwhelm the audience with the technology. Which brings up an issue that has plagued Trek over the last decade or so…the notion that has come to be called ‘technobabble.’ Often on the recent TV series and even films the characters would go on and on about polarizing this and re-aligning that as solutions to dilemmas…
Leonard Nimoy: [emphatically] I agree! I agree! I totally agree. At one point during The Next Generation television series I contacted the Paramount television people and said “I am looking at some of these shows and I don’t understand them.” These technobabble scenes where people sit around a table and pour out information that has no dramatic impact – that is not in character. It is just people putting out information to try and explain what is going on, but it doesn’t explain…it is just boring. I think you are right, Abrams did not do that. He kept this thing moving and some of the scenes were absolutely gripping…gripping. When he gets hold of a scene he knows how to milk the drama out of it and that is one of his great talents.
TrekMovie.com: So you see similarities with this new movie
Leonard Nimoy: Yah…I am not worried about technobabble with this movie I will tell you that. When I see technobabble my blood runs cold.
TrekMovie.com: Well obviously Abrams and his team have a modern sensibility and tend to tell non-linear stories. But in this case we are going back to a 1960s TV show…
Leonard Nimoy: My primary concern is with the characters and the development of them. Abrams is going to tell a story and he is going to tell as story with characters that I am very familiar with. My sense when I read the script is that the understanding and the nurturing and development of these characters is excellent. That is the only word I can think of…Excellent! With that in hand I called him and said exactly that. I said “You have captured these people. I am interested being with them as the audience. I want to see these relationships develop as you have done this. I want to see it acted out. I am looking forward to it and I want to be in this movie.” As far as the adventure itself, there are lots of ways to do a Star Trek adventure. I am sure they are going to do a very meaningful Star Trek adventure.
PART 1: Read Part 1 of this interview
(PHOTOS: Albert L. Ortega)