EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Zachary Quinto | TrekMovie.com
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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Zachary Quinto May 5, 2009

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

With his look and a spot on a hit TV show, it was no surprise that after publicly campaigning for the role Zachary Quinto was the first actor cast for the new Star Trek. In our new exclusive interview with the actor we talk about that campaign and how the role has changed him, and also what changes the Star Trek movie has in store for the role of Spock. [interview contains SPOILERS]

 

Interview with Zachary Quinto
 

TrekMovie: You have been on tour for quite a while and there is more to come, even though you are back in LA, do you even feel home now, since you are still doing this?

Quinto: No….. It’s a whirlwind, but it is the time of my life. I have been dreaming of this kind of experience since I was a kid. So no sense in doing anything but enjoy it.

TrekMovie: What was your favorite city, or do you even know what city you are in?

Quinto: I have a clear distinction and I updated my website as I was traveling. It is hard to chose a favorite city, because all the city’s are so different and all the experiences were so unique to the places that we were and to the point along the way that the experience fell. Kuwait was probably the most rewarding along the way, in order to connect with the troops. But I love Paris and London. I wish were able to spend more time in Berlin, I have friends who live there, but we were there for less than 24 hour hours.


Quinto talking to a soldier’s daughter on the phone while visiting the troops in Kuwait

TrekMovie: You, possibly more than anyone, went after this role, perusing it big time. Now that you are on the other end of that, looking back at the final product, how do you feel about your performance and the film in general? Was it what you thought it was going to be, when you decided you wanted to do this?

Quinto: To be clear and honest, it was really an unintentional campaign. I was giving an interview for publicity for Heroes and the first interview was for my home-town newspaper [see December 2006 Pittsburgh Post Gazette article]…and the journalist asked if there was any project I would be interested in beyond Heroes and I said "I just found out they were making Star Trek and I would love to play Spock" never in a million years thinking it would add to anything. Then that interview got syndicated and journalists subsequently brought it up and it escalated and evolved and eventually journalists were saying "I understand that Spock is your dream role" and I sort of went with it "it is my dream role now". It was certainly always my dream to have this kind of experience. There is no mistake that it happened with Star Trek and it happened with this character and it happened to be with JJ Abrams, someone for
whom I have profound respect and affinity, and yeah, it has been everything I can imagine and then some. I can’t really comment on my own performance in the movie, but I can certainly comment on the experience I had the first time I saw it. It was incredibly humbling, and I was really proud to be a part of it. To be clear I was proud to be a part — one part. There are almost a thousand people who worked on this film and I realize that my contribution is only as significant as 999 of them. So for me I was impressed by everybody’s work as actors and production designers and composers and sound designers and cinematographers and camera operators, all the way down the line I just felt it was really really impressive and humbling to see what everybody’s contribution added up to.

TrekMovie: You may just be a part, but in a way you are the face of this film because you recognizable in the makeup and the ears and the wig…

Quinto: Not a wig.

TrekMovie: Really? Well for example on the cover of this week’s Time magazine there is an inset, a tiny picture, and they use you because you don’t even need to say what it is..that’s a Vulcan. And you are on the cover on twenty magazine across the world. What is this doing to you as a person, how transformative is it? Is it just another day for you?

Quinto: I think as I look back on the totality of my life and my career, this chunk of time will emerge as a really defining period. And the time will emerge as a really defining period and the influence and the experience will shape what comes after it, but I don’t have any perspective on it right now. It is just another day for me because I am fully immersed in it. I am really trying in this experience to be as present and available and engaged as possible. To get so far ahead as to be able to see the overall impact that it has had doesn’t seem possible and doesn’t seem very beneficial to me.


Quinto trying not to let all the attention get to him…oh and that is not a wig!

TrekMovie: I know that you have tried to make this role your own, as directed by JJ and as Leonard [Nimoy] understood. But what would you say is the most different about your interpretation of Spock, and on the other hand what would you say was the most the same?

Quinto: I will take the second part first. I think there are a number of characteristics of Spock that are inextricable from who he is and what his heritage is and what his cultural history is. There is a certain way he carries himself and a certain way that he speaks and way that he relates that is defined ultimately by Leonard, but more than that, by the history of the mythology of the character. For me that was the part  of the character that was most similar to the version that Leonard played. I think the versions that were different is that that he is much less at ease about his duality. He is much more in conflict internally and I think he has much less control over the stirrings of his human emotion, and that allowed me a little bit more room to play with then many Leonard felt he had with his experience with the character.

TrekMovie: One of the biggest differences is the love interest with Uhura. When you read the script for the first time did you get how big that was?

Quinto: Absolutely!

TrekMovie: How did you prepare to literally go where no Spock has gone before? It is very new territory.

Quinto: [laughed] It is new territory, but I think it is very important to our movie. On one hand, I think it infuses the story with a certain levity and a certain humor between Kirk and Spock and this sort of rivalry. Between Kirk and Uhura there is this sort of cat and mouse thing going on. And that is the source of a lot of laughs for me. I think between Spock and Uhura it actually provides a sort of depth and complexity to these characters and relationships that adds a kind of value to this movie and sets it apart from what has come before it. Uhura represents a canvas onto which Spock is able to project the emotions he cannot express. To that end I think it is a valuable device and I think it is well laid in to the evolution of this story and I hope that it is not too disruptive to the die-hard Trek canon fanatics.


Spock still working on that hugging thing

TrekMovie: I think in another interview you talked about doing some special fight training that you didn’t use. So where in the film was that to be?

Quinto: It was the sequence where we beam on board the Narada, where my brother makes a cameo actually. My brother is the Romulan who turns around and notices that we beamed on board and tells Nero. It was that sequence where we were to beam into the middle of like five Romulans and then I was going to kick all of their asses. But I think with the bar fight and the drill fight and the fight I already had with Kirk on the bridge, JJ [Abrams] felt that another fight sequence wasn’t necessarily advantageous to the movie, so we changed it to the gunfight, which I think actually works better.

TrekMovie: Let’s assume a sequel happens, as an actor, what would you to do and see with the character?

Quinto: Ultimately I really have such implicit trust with the creative team of this movie, and would hopefully be the same creative team for the next movie and I know Bob [Orci] and Alex [Kurtzman] and Damon [Lindelof] are going to write the next one if we do one — it is hard for me to say. They have taken us in some really great directions and they set us up to have some really great adventures, and I think exploring the relationships among the crew. I would be really interested to see what happens with Uhura and Spock, if anything. But ultimately my job is to go where they take me. And to the extent that they are interested in my input I am happy to give it, but I haven’t been really asked by them so I feel sort of presumptuous.


Quinto ready to see where the role takes him

 

Up Next – TrekMovie talks to Zoe
Our final pre-movie series of interviews with the cast and crew of Star Trek continues later tonight with a sit down with Zoe Saldana, where we get her take on Star Trek fashion and what it is like to be Spock’s woman.

Other final pre-movie exclusive interviews at TrekMovie:

 

 

 

Comments

1. That One Guy - May 5, 2009

I wish ZQ would hug me….

2. Keith - May 5, 2009

Sweet!

3. Lousy Canadian - May 5, 2009

Damn! :D

4. Closettrekker - May 5, 2009

TOG…lol.

5. Harry Ballz - May 5, 2009

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but, in all fairness, Quinto LOOKS the part! Now, let’s see if he can ACT!

6. Dr. X - May 5, 2009

Sylar’s Army is going to tweak when the movie comes out.

7. SaphronGirl - May 5, 2009

I love him!

8. The Governator - May 5, 2009

Another great interview! Many thanks, Anthony!

9. AJ - May 5, 2009

Quinto is a class act, filling huge shoes, and right in front of the real McCoy ;-) to boot.

Great actor, and another great interview, Anthony. Thanks!

10. Denise de Arman - May 5, 2009

I would be happy to work with Zachary/Spock on that hugging thing…

11. Capt Krunch - May 5, 2009

AP gave Trek 2 1/2 stars out of 4 …I guess that is OK.. basically they say the plot twists are a little hard to follow, and either you’ll like it or you won’t..perhaps they mean the hard line trekkers that are hard to please at any rate…..Every other review I have seen so far has been excellent!!!

Quinto is the man! oh he ‘s not a man..he’s a Vulcan… and he gets Uhura…remember in Spock VS Q when Q says “no wonder Kirk got all the babes”..to which Spock answers, ” that;’s what you think!”….got it now….

12. Somkey81286 - May 5, 2009

Damon Lindelof writing can only make the series better.

13. Dr. X - May 5, 2009

#11

I remember that from “Spock vs. Q,” but I never would have guessed that Spock/Uhura would become canon. As for the plot twists, there are far more confusing movies to be watched out there. I don’t think it was all that complicated, in the grand scheme of things.

14. Unbel1ever - May 5, 2009

Well, I’m kind of interested as to where this Spock/Uhura thing goes.
It ties Uhura much closer to the “big three” as it was the case in TOS and its movies. It leaves much room for a more private perspective on Spock, which may allow for insights into his emotional state. There may also be potential for some tension, since Spock is the first officer and his first duty lies with the ship and its crew. He may have to choose between his career and Uhura at some point.

That’s stuff for the second movie, which I’m sure will come. In light of that, I hope this movie will not be too successful, otherwise any sequel will have a hard time not to disappoint. You all know, how soon the media will fall back into the old “Trek is for geeks withouth a life” routine, when it becomes apparent, that a new incarnation proves less successful as expected.

15. Closettrekker - May 5, 2009

#14—-“I hope this movie will not be too successful, otherwise any sequel will have a hard time not to disappoint.”

You mean like ‘The Dark Knight’?

I can’t embrace that kind of thinking. It seems rather defeatist. I think that this film has the potential to open alot of eyes. Given all of the preconceived notions in the mainstream about Trek, it may be the 2nd installment in Bad Robot’s Trek series that really kicks in the door.

And as a fan of Damon Lindelof, I can hardly imagine that his direct involvement in writing the sequel could result in any disappointment.

16. Magic_Al - May 5, 2009

Neither did Nimoy wear a wig during TOS. Nimoy sported the Spock haircut on and off the set during production. The films are another story.

17. Capt Krunch - May 5, 2009

The Spock/Uhura relationship has actually been mentioned before…
check out “The Best of Trek”..by Walt Irwin and G B Love 1994.. there is an article about the Spock/Uhura relationship by Ruth Baker…
mentions scenes from episodes where Spock has relations with women llike Droxine, Zarabeth, the Romulan commander, T’ Pring.. Nurse Chapel…and Uhura..which surprised me, but there were times…
for instance, anytime Uhura is knocked to the floor after an attack, it is usually Spock that goes for her first…when Nomad attacked Uhura, Spock spoke up for her…there are other instances…check out this issue if you can find it…there is a great story about Uhura’s “first name” as well…

18. Unbel1ever - May 5, 2009

#15

The problem lies with expectations not the quality of the movie. Now Star Trek is something new to the general audience. They won’t have many expectations toward the movie. However, this will change with the second one. A prime example for this phenomenon would be Star Wars Episode I. The expectations toward that movie were impossibly high – it had to fail.

19. John Sullivan - May 5, 2009

I really appreciate the actors visiting Kuwait. When some politicians tour overseas, they go around the world apologizing for the greatness of the United States, but these guys went around the world exemplifying the greatness of the United States. And first stop on this tour … and I really mean it when I say it … being Kuwait … that made heroes out of the actors. Almost makes me want to stand and sing the National Anthem. See my review here: http://www.realspiel.net/News1.html – not sure I will enjoy the movie as much as I would like to, but God knows it sure as hell beats another sequel to Nemesis. But I do find the cast and crew heroic for making Kuwait Stop #1.

20. Closettrekker - May 5, 2009

#18—The difference is that Star Wars was a known and loved quantity in 1999 among mainstream moviegoers.

The reason I believe that the Batman analogy is more appropriate is due to the poor reception among audiences for the last few films prior to Batman Begins (similar to where Star Trek has been lately).

It may be hard for younger fans to imagine, but there was a time when a Star Trek movie could draw pretty big numbers at the box office.

Just in domestic intake:

TMP—$82 million in 1979 dollars

TVH—$109 million in 1986 dollars

The crossover value inherent in the original characters is there. Audiences just need a reason to believe that these new Trek films will deliver.

I think that ST09 will do well, and if the early reviews are any indication, it should be well received. But there will be those who still refuse to give it a shot (the way I treated the idea of Batman Begins). By the time of a sequel’s release, those people should be fewer in number (By the time of TDK’s release, I had already rented and enjoyed BB).

By no means do I expect those kinds of numbers, but I can easily see the pattern being similar.

21. S. John Ross - May 5, 2009

On Quinto: Not a wig? Awesome and kind of scary.

On the sequel: Star Trek II-A: The Search for Vulcan. Turns out another time-travel fluke dropped a Genesis torpedo onto Vulcan just minutes before it imploded … Now the entire planet is out there, somewhere, puttering around with a terrycloth headband and mangling syntax.

22. SaphronGirl - May 5, 2009

Did anyone catch the sneak peek clip on Fringe tonight?

23. Sallah - May 5, 2009

I hope they pull back on Spock’s emotions in the second film. I understand this film was going for a more emotional, not-quite-got-the-hang-of-it-yet Spock (playing off his more emotional portrayal in the Cage). But if I have one complaint about the film it’s that they kinda beat you over the head with that. The childhood scene, the loss of emotional control after what happens on Vulcan, the fight with Kirk, and especially the Uhura love story was a little too much.

I’d like to see Spock morph more into the unemotional guy with rare hints of emotion as opposed to the current film’s emotional guy trying to hide his emotions. Sometimes less is definitely more. Like the scene at the end of Amok Time where Spock shows true relief, excitement, and happiness when Kirk shows up alive. That moment was powerful because we saw so few glimpsesa t Spock’s human side. This film has a little too much human side especially the Uhura thing.

Plus, we’d see some real character tension in the second when Spock retreats from Uhura’s love in an attempt to gain control of his emotions.

24. the Dogfaced Boy - May 5, 2009

Is anyone watching Fringe? They just showed a scene from the new movie during the commercial break and then came back to the show with Balok from the Corbomite Manuever talking about how evrything going on in the show all season was caused by the Romulans going back in time and coming to earth. He knows this because he is Spock.

The clip was cool. It was Nero finding out that he was back in time. Has this been shown before?

25. fwise3 - May 5, 2009

#22 & #24

Yep! I’m wondering if there were any ARG hints in that Fringe scene???

26. The Governator - May 5, 2009

24. the Dogfaced Boy

it has been shown here on several occasions. Check back in previous articles.

And yeah, Fringe tonight was full of Trek stuff. From commercials, to references within the show – specifically Romulans and Spock and Balok and Live Long and Prosper and so forth. And lets not forget Leonard Nimoy, who plays William Bell. Fascinating.

27. Dr. Image - May 5, 2009

#24- What the…?

I continue to hate (yes) those shots done of QSpock.
If JJ wanted “real,” they really should have stayed away from all the over-processing of those images. They’re… disturbing.

28. the Dogfaced Boy - May 5, 2009

26- Don’t know how I missed that one. TrekMovie.com is crazy with updates. It’s hard to keep up.

#27-Double What the…? back at you. I don’t get the question.

29. Closettrekker - May 5, 2009

Yeah, Fringe was completely Trekked-out tonight.

And the clip looked great.

30. Jorg Sacul - May 5, 2009

I’ve seen the movie twice now, and it keeps getting better each viewing. Quinto is a logical inheritor of Spock. He’s delightful in the role, with such subtle nuance and flair. I hope to see many more adventures with him in the blue shirt!

31. gaye from baltimore - May 5, 2009

I’m excited about seeing the movie. I can’t believe spock is learning how to explored with love. I hope he stay loyal to the ship. We all know love can be a little risky.

32. MC1 Doug - May 5, 2009

#1: agreed

33. MC1 Doug - May 5, 2009

Am seeing the film with six friends on Thursday night at 7 p.m. EST, and with yet others over the weekend.

I canNOT wait to see how they answer all the questions and concerns I have for the film.

It certainly looks awesome! Now I am not asking anyone to answer this question, but I am sure hoping to see Uhura finally get a first name on film. It is so overdue (I am not one of those who believe Roddenberry is the only person who can [or could have] establish this)! Nichelle Nichols has said for decades it is Nyota… and that’s good enough for me.

The clips I have seen of Carl Urban show him spot on for his interpetation of Kelly’s portrayal of Dr. McCoy. It’s almost spooky how well he has channeled Kelly. I swear, if I closed my eyes I could see Kelly.

Quinto also seems spot on… his voice is a bit softer than Nimoy’s ever was, but everything else seems like he was born to play the role.

While I would prefer this time travel tale be one that rectifies a damaged timeline, I do welcome the possibilities it presents by not doing so (assuming they don’t repair the damage Nero has caused).

and of course, I look forward to seeing what Chris Pine does for the role of a young, untested Kirk. His good looks and charm remind me of young William Shatner (just go look at his appearances in the original ‘Twilight Zone’ and ‘The Outer Limits’).

All I can say is: Thursday is not going to get here soon enough!

p.s. Anthony, if you’re interested, I’ll provide a report for the opening night crowd here in South Bend, IN (cultural mecca that it is– grin).

34. The Original Spock's Brain - May 5, 2009

On Friday, May 8, 2009, a group of us (fans and newbies) is going to see the it at the Edwards Marq*e IMAX, 7620 Katy Freeway, HOUSTON, TX (the 9:55 p.m. show on IMAX). You’re welcome to joins us.

I’ll have “Trekmovie: Houston Chapter” sign or something to help you find our group. You can contact me through my website.

35. MC1 Doug - May 5, 2009

Question: Since I have been job hunting (and with this rotten economy, prospects don’t look good for now) since returning from Afghanistan I have not re-installed my satellite dish (I am trying to keep unnecessary expenses down) so I am not keeping up with current TV.

Can someone tell me more about the goings on on ‘Fringe’ (I know nothing about the show) and ‘Lost’ (I could go on… I mean, I am a big fan of ‘Life, Eli Stone (both have sadly been canceled), The Big Bang Theory, How I met Your Mother, Desperate Housewives,’ and ‘Brothers and Sisters’ …. thankfully, all will eventually make their way to DVD for me to catch up later)?

I am curious, but have not seen any genre TV since I got home (gosh, it’s been two months now).

36. kj & lies - May 5, 2009

“Zoe Saldana, where we get her take on Star Trek fashion and what it is like to be Spock’s woman. ”

Any particular reason that’s the things you’ll talk to the actress about as opposed to the things you talked about with Quinto, like, I dunno, /acting/ and /casting/? :\

Woman gets a bad enough deal in the film as it is with being shoehorned into a ‘typical’ female role, no need to encourage it…….

37. Anthony Pascale - May 6, 2009

kj
i suggest you read the interview http://trekmovie.com/2009/05/05/exclusive-interview-with-zoe-saldana/

as it happens Zoe is very involved in fashion and we were talking about things people are passionate about (like Trekkies) so I used that as a hook to talk about the wardrobe.

dont be so sensitive.

38. Nikki - May 6, 2009

Why aren´t there any interviews with Karl Urban, Eric Bana and Simon Pegg ?

39. Leyla - May 6, 2009

Great interview, thanks!
I’m a huge cinema buff, but I have never seen anyone so young and so talented, so well versed in both drama and comedy. I think a Leading Man is born.

40. Andy D - May 6, 2009

I wish I could read all these wonderful interviews, but I refuse all spoilers!! I will be back to read them all on Friday!!!

IMAX THURSDAY NIGHT BABY!!!!!!!

41. kj & lies - May 6, 2009

@37 In that case I apologise :) Sorry, it’s just that I’ve been doing some stuff on feminism and hyper-femininity in media and it jumped out. *hands held up*

42. JR - May 6, 2009

I still think Spock looks like an action figure in all the photo’s I’ve seen.

43. Raphael Salgado - May 6, 2009

Funny how Spock looks like he went to the Caribbean islands between the photo shoots of Entertainment Weekly and Cinema Magazine.

I remember reading that people were complaining about the make-up and Photoshopping, but aren’t they forgetting he’s supposed to be half-alien?

44. John from Cincinnati - May 6, 2009

I can accept the Spock/Uhura love story a thousand times before I can accept the travesty that was jettisoning Kirk’s exquisite and colorful backstory.

45. John from Cincinnati - May 6, 2009

I’d like to see Spock mate with a Horta in the next movie.

46. Andy from Birmingham UK - May 7, 2009

I saw this movie last night on a special IMAX preview. i’ve been a die hard trek fan for 35 years. I expected it to be a strange experience and one I wasn’t sure I was gonna like. To begin with I almost felt much as I did on my first viewing of TNGs ‘Encounter at Farpoint’ many many years ago when it seemed that someone had taken something I loved and bastardised it into something unrecogniseable. As it turned out I grew to love TNG, Voyager and DS9 as much as TOS.
Quinto is excellent as Spock as are the rest of the cast in their respective roles. It’s an action packed story that seemed to fly by. The story was a surprise and I’m not sure how some of the purists are gonna react to it. Yes there are holes in it but everything I loved about TOS was there. I could be pedandtic about stuff but this is a new trek and one I could grow to love. I came away relieved that it wasn’t the complete re-write I feared although there’s some fairly hefty changes to the trek universe! I now want to see it again asap. It could’ve done with some Jerry Goldsmith music but you can’t have everything! See it folks and enjoy it. Trek lives, be thankful for that, Paramount could’ve easily put their money somewhere else.

47. Jerome Lambert - May 8, 2009

I think they crammed to much into this move at one time and the plot was all over the place, under deleloped and rushed , if you like crash bang movies this movie is for you, i am older so maybe its my loyalty to Shanter, Nimoy, Deforest and rest of the original cast , however, i didnt go with a notepad and write down all the things that was wrong with this movie, lets just say it could have been better and maybe a tad longer
maybe if there another one they will take more time with plot and timing of the film so its more fluid and not so rushed , i liked enough to give em a second shot at another movie

48. Andy Patterson - May 8, 2009

I notice that Quinto’s teeth are better than Nimoy’s were. And I’m sure Quinto’s not a smoker as Nimoy was in those days. Although I miss Nimoy’s speech with the old teeth. He spoke differently then

49. VulcanGoddess - May 13, 2009

I’ve seen this movie 5 times (and counting). It’s more fantastic with each go ’round. It’s got a little bit of everything and I particularly loved the Spock/Uhura relationship. It’s about time! It’s a new trek for a new generation and I, for one, don’t want to see carbon copies of what was in TOS.

Don’t get me wrong -I’m a big TOS fan, but it’s nice to see a change and too few Trek fans are willing to embrace that. It’s very boring in life when everything remains exactly the same. If the characters can’t evolve, or at least offer the audience a slice of something different, what’s the point? I’m not willing to stay chained to the same old stuff over and over no matter how much I like canon. That’s like eating pie everyday -eventually, you’ll want a piece of cake.

Kudos to JJ Abrams for giving us something fresh, and for letting us see a Spock we can all relate to in some way.

Nicely done and I look forward to the sequel!

50. Karen - May 19, 2009

I really wish i would acctually meet ZACHARY QUINTO and interviw him myself. I would really want to ask personal info like about his life and career.

51. Fidelis - May 22, 2009

Loved the movie. Went to see it with 3 friends who are not trekkers. They are in their early 20s to mid 40s. I am happy to say they loved it too. Action packed. No boring story line. I am happy the movie was not about the older characters. This new movie really rejuvenated Star Trek! You have to watch it twice because there is so much going on. We especially liked the surprising relationship with Uhura and Spock. Cant wait to see it again!

52. EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Zachary Quinto « Ryo’s Blog - June 4, 2009

[...] Source [...]

53. Sharon Stanley - June 24, 2009

I don’t agree with #52 at all!!!! I thin it makes the story more inteest ing. We don’t want him to become all human at but let the human show a bit.
I think Spock and Uhura are adorable together. He deserves a little help and happines. The new story line makes for more balanced , contented and interesting future. JJ and the Authrors and Actors all did Super Excellent & Superb Job. I’ve becane totally obsessed & possed by the New do of ST. I need an excorces. Seen it 21 times since May 8 and I’m already to see it again this weekend. (Shatner said something about getting a life!? Well I can think of much worse thing to be obessed with. The whole Movie & everthing is absoutley perfect (to me)! Hope they can almost equal it with the sequels , but I’ll be there for them all I’m sure. Thanks SOOOOOOOO Much

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