EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Leonard Nimoy

Since Comic Con 2007 one of the greatest sources of comfort for Trek fans was knowing that Leonard Nimoy had decided to come out of retirement for this new Star Trek. In a new exclusive interview with TrekMovie we talk to the original Spock about returning to the role, fan concerns about canon, Shatner, Fringe, Quinto’s Spock and much more. [interview contains SPOILERS]



TrekMovie interview with Leonard Nimoy

For my interview with Leonard Nimoy, it started off with him asking me a question…

Leonard Nimoy: You saw the movie, did you have some thoughts about it?

TrekMovie.com: Quite a few.

Nimoy: Good ones?

TrekMovie: [sarcastic] It’s OK

Nimoy: [laughs]

TrekMovie: You probably didn’t read my 4000 word review, but I did effuse over the film. …Maybe you you agree with this. The thought I came away with is that this feels like 1982 again to me. It feels like when Nick [Meyer] and Harve [Bennett] came in and said "let’s shake things up."… They kind of created a new bedrock, a look and tone, that flowed through a series of films. You changed things up in the second one, but certainly that series in the 80s was more based on the 82 film [Wrath of Khan], than on the 79 film [The Motion Picture].

Nimoy: I think that’s fair…the second Star Trek movie put the franchise back on track. The first one derailed us, it didn’t do us any good. Perhaps some people made some money. The second one put us back on track and what happened, unintentionally, we didn’t realize that we were at the beginning of a trilogy. That the three films, II, III and IV, told a story that had and arc to day and they hung together in an interesting way. III was obligatory, we had to get Spock back and IV was the completion of that cycle. After that, the films became somewhat of ‘toss something in the air and see what happens.’ And were not so grounded in continuity. But I think this film — I am not saying it is going to start a trilogy — but I think it is doing just exactly what you are describing. It creates a whole new way of looking at Star Trek. A fresh revitalizing of the franchise.

Nimoy thinks that "Star Trek" will put the franchise back on track, just like "Wrath of Khan"

TrekMovie: In a sense your character is an embodiment of the single timeline from "The Cage" through to episode you did on The Next Generation ["Unification"]. And they tie into that in this film, with you left on Romulus and all that. But you go back and what they have done is this kind of alternative timeline. What do you think of this notion of going back, but also kind of creating this open-ended new Star Trek future?

Nimoy: Well the alternative timeline gives them license to escape from canon concerns. I can’t see people saying ‘they shouldn’t do that because…’ or ‘that doesn’t tie in to such and such’ because it is a different time and place. Am I right about that?

TrekMovie: There is a strange irony with some fans. What you say is of course true and that is what Bob [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman] would say. And in a way, by doing this, they preserve everything you guys ever did, because they are not changing any of that. If they had however said this movie takes place during the events of say "Balance of Terror" but everything looked different, then you could go ‘that is a total violation’ but what they are saying is, ‘no we are over here’ [on another timeline]. Some Trek fans appreciate that, but others would like to see something set right in there and try to get it close. But they are a smaller group of fans, but there are concerns over…

Nimoy: How small is that group?

TrekMovie: I would say 15% [number based on polls indicating the ‘purist’ element of fandom here at TrekMovie]

Nimoy: I don’t want to speak for JJ [Abrams] and Bob and Alex, they are certainly capable of speaking for themselves. There is no way in the world that a Star Trek film will please every Star Trek follower or fan, no way. And to try to would be a death sentence, you just can’t. You twist yourself into pretzels over ‘what are they going to say about this’…for god’s sake what are people going to say about Uhura and Spock having the relationship they have in this movie? What? I thought it was wonderful and touching and effective. I saw JJ quoted very recently on fan complaints of the kind you are referring to and what he said was something like "stay home and be angry" so just don’t see the movie, if that is what your life is about and that is the way you want to envision your relationship to Star Trek and the world, fine. This is a movie. It is a movie! You want to go see it — chances are you are going to enjoy yourself if you open your mind to it. If you go to see it to find fault and to point out the things you think are inconsistencies, chances are you won’t have a good time and you would have wasted your time and money so why bother? But if you go to it with an open mind, I think chances are very very good you will see very well made and interesting movie. The characters are all accessible. I think they are all well portrayed by very talented and intelligent actors. I’m impressed with every single one of them. I was shocked to see Winona Ryder so effective as Spock’s mother — I didn’t think it would work, I couldn’t envision her in the role. This really works — that wonderful scene between see and Zachary when he semi-apologizes for negating his human side and asks that she not take it as an insult, is so wonderful. They are both wonderful. I can’t see any reason to worry anymore about the people who are going to say this isn’t right. I am not worried about it.

Nimoy’s message to Trek fans — "have an open mind"

TrekMovie:I think most people aren’t worried now, but two years ago there were legitimate reasons to be asking questions…You, yourself, didn’t immediately come on board until after reading the script.

Nimoy: Yes, of course. And then there is the whole Shatner thing, and "if he is not in the movie it is not Star Trek and I wont see it, etc, etc."…OK, OK, it’s over. It’s all done, it is behind us.

TrekMovie: Speaking of Bill, you guys just had a nice get together [at the charity Horse show], what was that like?

Nimoy: We always have a lot of fun together, we finish each other’s sentences. We are like brothers, we are brothers. I consider Bill a very very close friend of mine and he feels the same way. We always enjoy each other. We get together for dinners every once in a while and I admire Bill. I admire his energy. I admire what he has done with his career. And there is nothing negative in our relationship.

TrekMovie: It seems like Chris [Pine] had a good time and hopefully we can put all that Bill vs. JJ nonsense behind us, because I don’t think it was ever as serious as people thought it was.

Nimoy: No. I think they were both playing it, frankly. I know Bill likes to play the press.

TrekMovie: I think some of this just doesn’t play well in print. Like back in 2007 in at the Trek convention in Vegas, you may have been there, when on stage Bill called JJ an a–hole. It is hard to convey his sense of humor when you just read it.

Nimoy: I wasn’t there for that so I can’t comment. Bill says JJ never offered him a role, JJ says he did, I am not passing judgment, it’s over.

TrekMovie: Well there is always the sequel. In our last interview you said you were open to it and I think recently you said it…

Nimoy: Never say never

TrekMovie: But you used to say ‘never’

Nimoy: Yeah, yeah, I know…I am older and wiser.

TrekMovie: In fact you have already said ‘yes’ to JJ…

Nimoy: I said I would take his call…oh for Fringe, yes. We shot the first piece and I will do a couple of episodes [next year]. It was very brief. Olivia walks into a room, doesn’t know where she is, looks around and she is in a strange place. I come in. She says "where am I and who are you?" and I answer, very very briefly and I introduce myself as William Bell and that is pretty much what the scene is about.

Nimoy in Fringe finale (airing next week)

TrekMovie: Didn’t Bill try hard to get you onto Boston Legal?

Nimoy: He asked me if I would do it and I said no…I said no because I thought it was ‘stunty’ and I didn’t want to do a stunt thing. Same thing with Heroes. They asked me to do a role in Heroes as well and I said no.

TrekMovie: To play Sylar’s father?

Nimoy: I guess so, yeah.

TrekMovie: In one of our first interviews you had talked about seeing Mission Impossible III, right after Comic-Con…in talking about Mission you noted that modern films are much more complex these days. So in looking at this film, at the plot and the time travel, and how it is spanning over many years, how do you feel about the complexity of this film?

Nimoy: In January I bumped into an acquaintance who said "how is the Star Trek movie?" and I said "I think it is great" and he said "did you direct it?" cause he really didn’t know, and I said "I wouldn’t know how." Which is true. The technology is so advanced over what we were doing when I was directing, I’d have to take a training course. I’d have to sit down with people and say "how do you do these shots?" I could learn how to do it, but going in I wouldn’t know how. It is extremely complex and sophisticated now. The budgets are multiples of what we had to work with originally, even in the movies, and light years over what we had on the series. It is a different world. And I have said this about JJ and I think this is the rock bottom core about what is going on here — there are some directors who can do that very very big canvas, like a Michael Bay for example, stuff that is big and bombastic. There are some directors who can do intimate, inter-character relationship moments. And not a lot of directors can do both, and I think JJ can. He has a sense of the action and the vision of the size and the scope of the thing, and he also gets down and in touch with the very very essence of what is going on with characters, and he does it extremely well.

TrekMovie: The scene you had with Zach [Quinto], did you say that was your first day on the job? That very emotional scene?

Nimoy: Yeah, that made it difficult. I hadn’t found my legs yet as an actor in the movie. I was OK. I don’t think it created a problem, but it took some focusing to get grounded in that scene. I think it worked out fine, I think the scene is very good. [laughs] but at the time I wish it came later in the schedule.

TrekMovie: In my viewing it seems to me that you have consciously evolved the character since the way you played him on The Next Generation. Was that flowing from the script or from yourself?

Nimoy: Both. I think the script suggested that Spock is further along in his life. And I think what I brought to it. I am further along in my life than the last time I played Spock. I am much more comfortable with what my life is all about and I think so is Spock. And I think he is able to talk to someone else about their life and offer some guidance and some philosophy.

Spock as we last saw him on TNG…

Spock (and Spock) in Nimoy’s first scene shot on new "Star Trek"

TrekMovie: There is so much talk about you and Zach and how you guys are like adopted father and son. He says he made the role his own, which is true…Once you mentioned that he did something that blew you away. I am curious now that I have seen the film, what was it that you went ‘oh that is really interesting’?

Nimoy: His relationship with Uhura, he played something that I was quite touched by. So did she for that matter. They both were terribly available for each other. I was really affected by his final moment with the Vulcan council when he rejected their invitation to go to the Vulcan Institute, and the way he said "live long and prosper."

TrekMovie: He almost said it as if there was a word that was supposed to come after, like "you bastards."

Nimoy: Or go f–k yourselves, to be specific

TrekMovie: but you were OK with that?

Nimoy: It caught me by surprise, but I thought it was terribly effective.

Nimoy is impressed with Quinto’s take on this pivotal scene


More TrekMovie Star Trek Interviews coming all week
This week is all interviews all the time at TrekMovie.com. We have exclusive interviews with most of the stars and JJ Abrams so keep tuning in, we will be posting a couple per day all week long. Next up, Zachary Quinto.


Sort by:   newest | oldest
May 4, 2009 3:42 pm

Ah, Nimoy. Good to see thou again. I will indeed have an “open mind” about everything in this movie.

Chain of Command
May 4, 2009 3:48 pm

Great interview. Can’t wait for Thursday night!

Roll on 7th of May !
May 4, 2009 3:49 pm

CAN’T WAIT !! 2ND ??

Captain (Northern) Pike
May 4, 2009 3:49 pm

I’m looking forward to the film. Trekmovie.com has done a good job moderating my expectations. I would have liked to see a canon TOS film but now I’ll be happy with something that has the right tone and feel and, of course Leonard Nimoy.

May 4, 2009 3:51 pm

I can’t picture Nimoy saying the f word. LOL

May 4, 2009 3:52 pm

Ha ha ha, the “go f–k yourselves” part is fantastic. Nimoy is amazing!

May 4, 2009 3:53 pm

is the two spocks picture new.

Only 3 more sleeps until the big day! It’s exciting!

Mike Ten
May 4, 2009 3:54 pm

That was a great interview, can’t wait to see the movie on Thursday in IMAX!

May 4, 2009 4:00 pm

It’s a shame Nimoy didn’t get to direct more Treks.

His TSFS and TVH captured the magic and warmth of the TV series and it’s characters better than any of the others, IMO.

Harry Ballz
May 4, 2009 4:02 pm

Nimoy’s involvement gives this franchise relaunch a much needed flavour of style and class!

Kosher Coder
May 4, 2009 4:03 pm

As long as this film’s heart is The Great Bird’s philosophy, it will become a megahit and fast favorite. I am worried sick (literally!) about the alternate timeline and the destruction of what we hold dear, but I’m keeping an open mind.
As a humanist, I relish in the fact that we likely have a new excellent chapter to our mythology. No religion can teach our children like Trek can, and I am so damn excited to have a new epic from whuch to glean truths.

May 4, 2009 4:03 pm

man I wish we had a vid of this whole conversation, it sounds like it was a blast to do, Anthony Pascale your a very lucky bastard.

May 4, 2009 4:03 pm

Fab interview! Thanks :)

May 4, 2009 4:05 pm

Man! What a great week to be an open-minded Trekker! It’s hard to believe it’s almost here.

Andrew C
May 4, 2009 4:06 pm

Awesome interview, Anthony, great work.

Three more days!

May 4, 2009 4:06 pm

TrekMovie, this has been an incredibly journey, and what a wonderful way to top it all off.

Third Remata'Klan
May 4, 2009 4:07 pm

Will there be a dry Trekkie eye in the house when we see the great man himself on screen in the ears again?

Mine just may not be….

May 4, 2009 4:08 pm

I’m just delighted that Nimoy is still enjoying himself and doing work he’s proud of. The man deserves it.

Third Remata'Klan
May 4, 2009 4:08 pm


There is no “destruction” of what we hold dear.

They are creating this “alternate timeline” specifically so that they DON’T destroy what has come before….

Brian Roskamp
May 4, 2009 4:09 pm

I love Nimoy’s comments and agree completely with his analysis of the movie and how we need to go in with an open mind. In the beginning I was apprehensive, but now that I’ve seen it, it truly is great!

May 4, 2009 4:11 pm

Getting ready to watch Karl Urban on Attack of the Show on G4TV

I am not Herbert
May 4, 2009 4:12 pm

Great interview Anthony!! =D

May 4, 2009 4:18 pm

who doesn’t love leonard nimoy? such a great attitude, both on screen and off.

it will be interesting to see how quinto’s new take on the character works out. it sounds like it has the potential to work out very well or very poorly.

though to be honest, even if the rest of the movie is total garbage, it’ll be worth it just to see nimoy play spock again.

Chris Dawson
May 4, 2009 4:20 pm

wow, just imagine if that/those NBC network exec(s) had gotten their way and axed Nimoy way back when.

That would be an alternate timeline I wouldn’t want to see . . . .

I am so glad Roddenberry persevered and they didn’t!

And since he was there from the very beginning, I trust him!!
I look forward to this movie BIGTIME!

But I will say this:

Star Trek – Of God’s and Men also showed Kirk’s mother (pregnant) and destroyed Vulcan. And went back in time.
And to all those who so heavily criticized it, I would have them read the above sentiments from Mr. Nimoy again.

Star Trek LIVES (so enjoy it !)

May 4, 2009 4:20 pm

oh and @10 – agreed. nimoy should have directed more trek. maybe he didn’t want to, but if he did i’m surprised he wasn’t given more opportunities.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire
May 4, 2009 4:24 pm

Hey Anthony. That was one hell of an Interview. Great job. So to all the nay sayers. Spock prime said it himself. Have an open mind and go and you just may enjoy the Movie. Trek Minus 3 days and 35 minutes.

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire
May 4, 2009 4:29 pm

I seen the remastered Cage this weekend with Majel barret Roddenberry and i was thinking that they have come full circle. From the First Pilot to The new Movie after 40 plus years. Not to many actors can say they have played a part off and on for over 40 years and Nimoy is one of them. I wished Majel could have lived to see the new Movie. But I think her and Gene will be watching from heaven.

May 4, 2009 4:29 pm

Anthony: Thank you! What a wonderful interview!

The movie of course will relaunch Star Trek.

But you’ve relaunched fandom in a positive way. Thank you! You’ve created the equivalent of the good fanzines (and prozines) we had in the 70’s. You’re like better than Starlog. :) Way better.

May 4, 2009 4:33 pm

Great Interview.

An older Spock, with his knowledge of our ‘colorful metaphors’ would have said it just like Nimoy did.

Kirk, James T.
May 4, 2009 4:35 pm

truly fantastic interview with a great man.

May 4, 2009 4:38 pm

Nimoy: “stay home and be angry” so just don’t see the movie, if that is what your life is about and that is the way you want to envision your relationship to Star Trek and the world, fine. This is a movie. It is a movie!

Thank you Mr. Nimoy!!!!

Three more days….

May 4, 2009 4:47 pm

Anthony, that was a damned fine interview. I am stoked for this. Reserved two tickets online for the Friday show @ 7:30 p.m. in Auburn, AL. Even went to Target today and bought a phaser, which I’ve effectively used to shoot all three Dachshunds in the keister several times before dinner. LOL My wife thinks I’m nutz.

(Well, she’s right.) :-)

May 4, 2009 4:48 pm

Nimoy is wonderful. I slightly disagree on the canon requirement – there should be attention to it. And with all this wonderful movie magic, not incorporating it is a human failing. Looking forward to this next level of Star Trek and hope for more.

L. Fernandes
May 4, 2009 4:52 pm

Can’t wait! I can’t tell you all how happy I am that L. Nimoy is in this movie! It will be quiet an emotional experience seeing him in Trek again!!! I was there from the beginning!

May 4, 2009 4:53 pm

What I wouldn’t give to see Mr. Nimoy giving the finger and saying “go f**k yourselves.” ….a little too human ;)

May 4, 2009 5:00 pm

Always good to hear from Mr. Nimoy. Great article!

May 4, 2009 5:01 pm

Tickets bought for the whole family for Thursday-check.

Mind opened to new movie-check.

Over any anger about not seeing the old TOS on the screen-check.

Completely blown away by the fact that I have been coming to this site for three years to find out any little tid-bit about the movie and all of the friendships I have made with people here-check.

What a long strange trip it has been. Thanks Anthony.

May 4, 2009 5:04 pm

Oh, and having Leonard Nimoy quote me and actually do a little bit of a comic routine based on something I posted on this very site at the convention that is mentioned in this article……………………………..


That is something as a Trek fan I will always remember and it was because of this site.

Timmy Lives!

Capt Mike of the Terran Empire
May 4, 2009 5:06 pm

Not to get to far off topic. I just read a review on Yahoo and they gave Trek 2 and a half out of 4 stars. I think there just being jerks.

May 4, 2009 5:22 pm

WHATEVER anyone says (canon-philes etc), i am sure this movie will be good star trek, and not just that, but better than any other film coming out over the next few months. its star trek, but more well made in a visual sense, making the sci-fi side more believable. it has a different take on the original characters through an alternate timeline therefore respecting canon…i do wish some people would stop worrying SO much about canon and just enjoy the film when it comes out though, there have been enough assurances to alleviate worries surely?…its going to be GOOOOOOODD.

The Governator
May 4, 2009 5:32 pm

Fantastic interview. I can’t wait to see what comes up next. T-3 days. Although, I see it on Friday and I will be really ready for it. It is unfortunate that this movie comes at the end of the most stressful week of my life. At the same time, I’m sure it will be a refreshing end to the chaos. Considering all that I have to do in the next few days, I actually pray time goes slower. But since I know it won’t, I at least have something to look forward to.

May 4, 2009 5:41 pm

The moment I heard Nimoy was in the movie because he liked the script and story I thought this movie would have a good chance of turning out great. From the 28 minutes I have seen so far, it seems both Nimoy and I were right. ;)

May 4, 2009 5:44 pm

PS: anthony, I don’t know how your work, but if there is an audio file of this or other interviews I’d love to get my hands on it. As the interview itself says: some things don’t translate to print. Either way though, great interview!

May 4, 2009 5:46 pm

I’m voting Anthony Pascale for President in 2012. No matter how much I enjoy the Star Trek flick, I don’t think it will be as much as I’ve enjoyed following all the news on this site over the past year or so.

Amazing job, Anthony, and thank you!

May 4, 2009 6:08 pm

Wow. What a great interview.

Let me just say this:


(In a non-weird way.)

I’ll keep coming back here even after I see the movie Saturday!

May 4, 2009 6:10 pm

I love Leonard Nimoy! Thank to TrekMovie for this interview.

Also I dearly love the first Star Trek Movie (esp. Robert Wise’s director’s cut).

The Human Adventure is (still) Just Beginning!

750 Mang
May 4, 2009 6:16 pm

Nice interview.

Nimoy rocks the quadrant.

May 4, 2009 6:21 pm

Great interview. What became of the young boy who’s family was invited to attend the premiere by Nimoy? I wonder if they actually were there and if he liked the movie? Hopefully an article is forthcoming on that so we can get a review from the younger generation.

Ryan H
May 4, 2009 6:47 pm

Great interview Anthony! You always do a great job!

There’s a new clip out on facebook!