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Exclusive Interview: Leonard Nimoy – Excited To Be Spock Again July 23, 2008

by Anthony Pascale , Filed under: Interview,Nimoy,ST09 Cast,Star Trek (2009 film) , trackback

Possibly more than anything else, the inclusion of Leonard Nimoy has given Trek fans a sense of security for this new Star Trek film from JJ Abrams. In his second interview with, the once and future Spock talked about what it was like to return to the role he made famous, and also provided his thoughts on the new film (including some interesting new tidbits).


TrekMovie July 2008 Interview with Leonard Nimoy Part 1 – The Return of Spock You have witnessed multiple declarations of death of the Star Trek franchise, yet it continues to defy the critics. Why do you think it remains relevant today.

Leonard Nimoy: We are going to find out how relevant it is aren’t we? [laughs] I have high hopes that this picture will inspire a whole new generation of viewers and reinvigorate the old fans. I think the relevance always has to do with interesting characters and good stories and a positive view of mankind and hope for the future. We just saw this movie Wall-E, which is a wonderful movie and deals with excessive consumerism and neglect of the planet leading to a pretty dreadful kind of result. But even in that movie there is this one ray of hope, there is this sprig of a plant is found which informs people something can be done. I think Star Trek has always had that message, that something can be done. It has always been a vehicle where we solve problems. I think the audiences enjoy that, I think that has always been relevant. The idea that a group of people, very dedicated, very professional, and a close-knit family, set out to solve problems. I think that will always be relevant. You mentioned Wall-E, which has a very overt environmentalist message. Last year your film Star Trek IV was put on a top environmental films list by an environmental group, because it has a very overt environmental message. Do you feel that this new Star Trek film has any specific overt message?

Leonard Nimoy: I think it is an entirely different movie. It is more of an adventure story than a social comment movie. I would say if there is one major driving emotional force to it, it has to do with the concept of revenge and the damage that the desire for revenge can cause. And I have always been interested in that as a concern. I think that we have seen in our time, various political factions, various political leaders, various political peoples want to get revenge for what they feel has been an unjust attack and the cycle goes around and around and it doesn’t stop. Somebody has to say "lets quit this, we are just destroying each other." So I think, if anything, I come way from this movie with that concept. At last years Creation Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, you said to Bill [Shatner], and I will quote you "I have to examine where [Spock] is now, what are his thought processes? Is he more logical? Is he less logical? Is he more precise? Is he calm? Is he mellow? Has he got cranky?" So were you nervous, and was that justified? And did you answer those questions of where Spock is?

Leonard Nimoy: I was concerned stepping into a character that I have been out of for eighteen years. I was concerned as an experience, what I might find as a handle. What I might find as an entry point into the character. I really believe those concerns went away when I got on the set and started working with JJ Abrams and my fellow actors. That has always been the touch point — how is it working with the director and my fellow actors, and the script of course. If we are given opportunities and set up in such a way — the set, the directors, the cameras and so forth — that the actors and establish and successfully their relationships with each other, find their dramatic and comic moments in the scene, then everything falls away and I think that was certainly the case with this movie. I had a wonderful time and I felt totally secure in the hands of the director and the script and I worked with some terrific actors. These are very very good people. I really came way extremely pleased. I think the audience is going to find these actors really quite wonderful and they are going to be extremely well liked. I think the audience is going to take them into their hearts. You have now worked with four directors, in addition to yourself, on Star Trek features — [Robert] Wise, [Nicholas] Meyer, [William] Shatner and JJ [Abrams]. How do you feel that JJ’s approach differs from the previous directors, and what way does that affect your performance as Spock?

Leonard Nimoy: I think the previous directors all brought something that was valuable to the project, but none of them had the size or the scope of production to deal with that this picture offered… …including Robert Wise? [Star Trek: The Motion Picture]

Leonard Nimoy: Yeah, even Robert Wise. That movie, by comparison, was a less complicated film to shoot. It was sizable, there were large images, but it was not as complex in its imagery and in its story, as this one is. And I think that is a major difference. By the way, that Robert Wise picture had very little opportunity for any kind of meaningful interaction between the characters. The script was designed in such a way that it wasn’t about the characters, but about the concept and the ship. That being the case, I don’t think we had much of an opportunity as actors to bring to the screen the characters the audience found so enjoyable in the TV series. In this movie it is quite the opposite. All the character relationships are in place. The humor, which was terribly lacking in that first movie, is constantly present — a sense of fun, of adventure. And the scope and level of the production values is gigantic by comparison. …You got to believe me that I have been involved in film and television for fifty-seven years, and I have never ever involved in a production of this scale and scope. I don’t know if Star Trek IV still holds the box office record for the largest box office of these movies, but this film is going to obviously run away with that record. In his book "Star Trek Movie Memories," Bill Shatner talked about going from Star Trek VI to Star Trek Generations.In Generations everyone was new and everything looked different, he felt like a guest star than in his own movie. In this new movie, things look different, everyone is new, did you have a similar feeling or did you feel at home?

Leonard Nimoy: No, because I felt very much at home. Bill was dealing a set of characters and actors that were totally foreign to him. I had a quite a different experience in this movie. I was acting opposite characters, although they were being played by new actors, I was acting in scenes with characters that I recognized. I felt very much at home. You helped guide Kirstie Alley (Star Trek II) and Robin Curtis (Star Trek III) in their performances as Vulcans. How was it different mentoring Zachary [Quinto] when he was not just playing a Vulcan, but playing yourself, or your former and current character.

Leonard Nimoy: Well I did not direct Kirstie Alley, she was directed by Nicholas Meyer, but I did direct Robin Curtis, but the mold for that character was already set. We were breaking new ground with the pon farr scene and some other elements, but those were elements I was quite familiar with. All I can tell you is that Zachary Quinto watched enough of my work as Spock, and we spent enough time talking about the essential ingredients of the Spock character, that he was able to fly with it. I think he is going to come off wonderfully. He also happens to be an extremely intelligent and gifted actor and you can go a long way on those qualities. Some have noted, that with your report together, it seems as if you have adopted him as a son.

Leonard Nimoy: [laughs] That’s OK. I like that. You are headed to Vegas again. What are your thoughts about this year vs. last year and do fans have to look forward to

Leonard Nimoy: Last year was before we made the movie and this year is after we made the movie, so there is obviously we are in a different position. I am looking forward to meeting this audience and having an animated conversation about Star Trek and the new movie. I would certainly encourage everyone to come to this convention in Las Vegas. I think there are going to be some very interesting elements and audience pleasing.

See Leonard Live!
See Mr. Nimoy live at Creation’s upcoming Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. The two Spocks, Nimoy and Quinto, will appear on Sunday August 10th. More info at

MORE Nimoy to come
Check back later this week for Part 2 of our interview, where we talk with Mr. Nimoy about Eddie Murphy, photography, Bill Shatner and more. And if you can’t wait, read our last in depth interview with Nimoy, from Summer 2007 (Part 1 & Part 2)



Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Duncan MacLeod
July 23, 2008 5:29 pm

Nice to see that the Timeship is already in use . Fast forward to July 2009!

Just teasin ya Anthony, We all love ya and you do a great job with this site!

July 23, 2008 5:30 pm

Good man.

Mother Horta was exploited
July 23, 2008 5:30 pm

Sounds Great

July 23, 2008 5:32 pm

It’s Kirstie Alley, not Christie Alley.

July 23, 2008 5:32 pm

Cool, great interview :-)

July 23, 2008 5:40 pm

Very enjoyable read… I felt comforted and assured. Leonard is such a together and knowledgeable guy. I hope Leonard continues to live longer and prosper further.

The Underpants Monster
July 23, 2008 5:41 pm
Dang, could I love this man any more? Negative, Captain! “The script was designed in such a way that it wasn’t about the characters, but about the concept and the ship.” And yet (for this viewer, anyway) the characters were still what put the movie over in the end. Yeah, you could tell that the focal point was meant to be the ship and the FX and the V’Ger idea, but when I saw it all that stuff just highlighted the characters (well, the Triumvirate and Decker, anyway). As Robert Frost said, “dark is what brings out your light.” “You… Read more »
July 23, 2008 5:41 pm

Great work as always, Anthony.

July 23, 2008 5:41 pm

REVENGE! A dish best served cold. And it is very cold in the deep of space.

Fascinating to say the least.

Great interview! Thanks again!!!!

…the adventure continues…

Commodore Redshirt
July 23, 2008 5:42 pm

Mr. Nimoy is one smart man. He has an understanding of what made Spock (and Trek) work and why this new film will work. Every time I read another interview with him I feel better about this project.

Chris H.
July 23, 2008 5:42 pm

OK, now how about a freakin’ trailer already, JJ? :)

July 23, 2008 5:44 pm

Great interview. How a true fan of Star Trek can fail to be buzzing after reading that, I don’t know!

So there’s a big revenge issue in this film. So is that Spock who wants revenge or Nero? :)

The first Star Trek film since 1991! Wow! I wonder what my 17-year-old self would have made of all the hoopla about this new film!

Einstein Jones
July 23, 2008 5:45 pm

Spock rocks. Nimoy’s a joy.

July 23, 2008 5:48 pm

Mr. Nimoy seems to have revealed the theme of the film, the “price of revenge,” as it were.

From what we’ve heard, we do get to see the Big E as an alternate timeline battleship, so we will see it on a grand scale.

July 23, 2008 5:52 pm

Curious about that bit re: Nimoy-Spock “acting in scenes with characters that [he] recognized.” If he’s playing opposite Pine-Kirk, Urban-McCoy et al, are we to expect a little time-travel action in the works?

July 23, 2008 5:53 pm

I knew it I knew itttttt NERO wants revenge on the vulcans and the fedration for stopping them on there conquest for domination of the galaxy . Enough is enough says spock and goes back in time to fix all of this but he hires the two guys from men in black and use that stick thing that makes young enterprise crew members forget everything that ever happened and theffore spock fixing the time line

The Underpants Monster
July 23, 2008 5:56 pm

#10 – “In space, all wars are cold!”

The Underpants Monster
July 23, 2008 5:59 pm

Anthony – sorry if I overstepped; this is your house, after all. I’m a proofer by day, and sometimes it’s hard to turn that part of the brain off.

July 23, 2008 6:16 pm

Good stuff, thanks LN & AP.

July 23, 2008 6:30 pm

“In space, all warriors are cold warriors.” Referring to the end of the Cold War in 1990-1991, during the filming and release of Star Trek VI

July 23, 2008 6:33 pm

I worry a little bit about this news of revenge. It seems very close to Wrath of Khan. I worry that this movie franchise is always trying to get back to that movie.

That’s (one of the MANY reasons) Nemesis was so awful. Trek II ripoff.

But I have hope!!!! :)

July 23, 2008 6:36 pm

Tha’ biggest Spock adventure yet… scale and scope bigger than tha’ white whale… or tha’ humpbacked one as well…

and thanke ta’ Nimoy…

July 23, 2008 6:55 pm

Makes wondrous poetic sense fur him ta’ be tha’ longest runnin o’ tha’ original actors as characters…

and then… O Brave New World, wit’ such people in it… no mortal can fight tha’ future- embrace it, make it, and send bonny BND some bail money so he partake in it wit’ ye’….

Oh, and revenge be farrrrrr bad…


Tim Handrahan
July 23, 2008 6:56 pm

How about a photo of Nimoy as Spock from this film?

capt Mike
July 23, 2008 6:58 pm

Ok Spock has spoke. So all the doom sayers that this will be bad can please be quiet.As MR. Nimoy himself said this will be a grand scale movie with a great story with great action and humer. Get all that and mix it all up and you have one hell of a movie. Aka Batman the Dark Knight. So lets Warp around the sun and time warp to next year and see the movie and maybe even save the whales George and Gracie. We are in for one hell of a ride next year. Khan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

July 23, 2008 7:00 pm

great stuff, can’t wait for the next part.

When Mr. Nimoy speaks like this on a project like this, you can take it to the bank.

Where can I fnd Mr Nimoys 70’s show “In search if” I think that’s what it was called. I wonder what he thinks of his non trek shows like that one. If you are old enough to remember it, it wasn’t to bad.

Anyone remember that one?

Commodore Lurker
July 23, 2008 7:02 pm

24 BND:
White Whale! You’re not hunting me are you BND? Got …to…swim…faster!

Commodore Lurker
July 23, 2008 7:03 pm

Kudos on the interview coup Anthony, well done!

July 23, 2008 7:08 pm

When he hosted Ancient Mysteries, he was grand… forgot completely that he wuz Mr. Spock durin’ his intros…

Until that episode where they dug inta’ tha’ mystery o’ “what mysterious force stopped this one woman from allowing Hitler to overrun the world… was it visitors from the future, was it a cosmic accident resolved, or was it just a car?”


Marvin the Martian
July 23, 2008 7:08 pm

“In Search Of…” Bigfoot gave me nightmares when I was a kid.

July 23, 2008 7:09 pm

30. Arrrrrr… watch yer flank at all times, matey…

July 23, 2008 7:11 pm
23: I think Wrath of Khan did the revenge theme, and did it well. Good Trek has included revenge stories, and the writers have cited TWOK as a key influence. TWOK is 26 years old, and to say XI could be a re-has, is far-fetched. Nemesis is hard to peg as a revenge story as their is no history between Picard and Shinzon. It’s more jealousy, anger, and the lust for power. Shinzon gets his revenge against the Romulans, for sure, and then seeks to survive via a process which requires Picard to die. Nemesis is a rip-off primarily due… Read more »
Martin Lightband
July 23, 2008 7:21 pm

Very interesting interveiw,, I cant wait for part 2

July 23, 2008 7:36 pm
I don’t know… I suppose I’m just a bit slow, but sitting here and reading this interview just jarred in my the fact that Nimoy has been with Trek since the film began to roll in ’64. If I remember right, he has the very first spoken words in Star Trek: “Check the circuit.” I find it absolutely amazing that with the rebirth of Star Trek immanent, he’s going to be there… and hopefully uttering the first words of the new human (and Vulcan!) adventure. I did find his statements about TMP to be very interesting. There is a small… Read more »
July 23, 2008 7:36 pm

“I would certainly encourage everyone to come to this convention in Las Vegas. I think there are going to be some very interesting elements and audience pleasing.”

Am I there yet? I can’t wait to see these “elements’!!!

IN SEARCH OF… I remember that show. Watched it specifically for Nimoy.

July 23, 2008 7:55 pm
“By the way, that Robert Wise picture had very little opportunity for any kind of meaningful interaction between the characters. The script was designed in such a way that it wasn’t about the characters, but about the concept and the ship. That being the case, I don’t think we had much of an opportunity as actors to bring to the screen the characters the audience found so enjoyable in the TV series. In this movie it is quite the opposite. All the character relationships are in place. The humor, which was terribly lacking in that first movie, is constantly present… Read more »
capt mike
July 23, 2008 8:03 pm

Ok. Lets time warp to next year and brake the temperal prime directive. I just can’t wait!. At least show us a trailer. A photo of the Enterprise!. Something!!!. Khan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

capt mike
July 23, 2008 8:06 pm

Spock. How about some Cowboy daplomacy. get J.J to show some pics and or a Trailer ok. Please. We need more. Must have it soon. Ok. Im going nuts here. Im so looking forward to the new movie. But I guess we will havt to wait. Any way. That was a great interview and would lobve to read part 2.

July 23, 2008 8:06 pm

“I have high hopes that this picture will inspire a whole new generation of viewers and reinvigorate the old fans. ”

It’s always been relevant and reinvigorated to me. I look forward to the movie, yes, but it’s still the same to me, part of my life, regardless.

Good interview by the way. What a cool experience to have. You go Anthony.

July 23, 2008 8:06 pm

Great job Anthony… Thanks.

Harry Ballz
July 23, 2008 8:11 pm

Revenge, eh?

Sounds like it’s going to be the bastard son of Spock and the Romulan Commander, going back in time to stir up some s***!

Out There
July 23, 2008 8:16 pm

Nero got picked last to play kickball on the playground in the fifth grade, and boy does he want REVENGE!

Tony Whitehead
July 23, 2008 8:38 pm

16. I don’t recall the Enterprise being confirmed as an alternate timeline battleship. Did I miss something? or is this just what’s been guessed at on the boards?
Anthony, it was great to hear from Mr. Nimoy. This interview reminds me about the kid that he invited to the premiere and that you had as a cub correspondent. Any chance he’ll be back to give the young Trekker’s point of view? I sure enjoyed those articles.
Great interview, looking forward to pt 2

July 23, 2008 8:53 pm

Undiscovered Country also had revenge in the subtext, with old warriors who can’t let go of old battles when change is needed.

I agree that revenge didn’t figure much into Nemesis, at least in any sensible way, though it’s hard to make sense of Shinzon altogether.

There’s some very good science fiction these days, but nothing with Trek’s promise of a proud and exciting future for humanity warts and all. Maybe this movie is just in time, maybe we need that back.

July 23, 2008 8:53 pm

#43—Hell yeah!

July 23, 2008 9:00 pm

Hi Guys,

So let me rephrase. I think Nemesis’ Schinzon was a Khan-like character, with a Khan-like personal beef with the Captain. There’s the whole “echo over the voice” comment. It may have not been visible because of the extreme crappiness of the movie, but there’s no doubt in my mind that they were trying Wrath of Khan: The Next Generation.

Plus, there’s Data taking one fore the team, as Spock did.

I would definitely say there was some Revenge, even if it was poorly played out.

July 23, 2008 9:08 pm

Nemesis is the only Trek movie I haven’t seen. You’ve made me curious and I just may have to break the embargo and rent it this weekend.

Out There
July 23, 2008 9:17 pm

OK, but what I really want to know is:

How’s come Leonard Nimoy isn’t posing in the same kind of outfit and pose as Jolene Blaylock did in the previous article?

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