Nimoy Wanted STIV To “Lighten Up” – OK Being Typecast

Leonard Nimoy has had a long and successful career and now says he can trace much of that success back to Star Trek. In a new interview with FatFreeFilms he talks about how Trek opened up many opportunities for him to both act and direct. After directing Star Trek III, Nimoy went on to direct a number of films including the hit comedy 3 Men and a Baby. Regarding humor, the man who portrayed the original emotionless Vulcan talks about why he wanted Star Trek IV to have a sense of humor: 

when we developed Star Trek IV I said going in "this film has to lighten up". We have been dealing with death and destruction in these Star Trek movies and we have had enough of that. Spock died and Kirk’s son died and the Klingons were all being killed, and I said "Enough – lets find a way to have a lighter tone. In spite of the fact that Earth is being jeopardized we have got to find some humor." And I think we did.

Regarding acting, Nimoy seems very comfortable with the notion that the character of Spock both made him famous but also gave him a certain ‘type’:

Am I typecast? Absolutely. So was Clint Eastwood, so was John Wayne, so was Gary Cooper, so was Cary Grant. If you are a successful person in films chances are you are typecast. Studios and audiences alike are uncomfortable with people who step out of a certain type and change character completely. John Wayne tried it a couple times and had a disaster in a couple movies where he tried to be something other than what he played successfully. I am not John Wayne, but on the other hand I found that I was useful playing a certain kind of person. Usually cerebral, usually thoughtful. I could play attorneys, I could play advocates of various kinds, teachers, whatever. Although strangely enough in my earlier years I played a lot of gangsters and nasty people. But gradually I grew into this kind of professorial kind of casting. For me typecasting was not really a burden, it became useful. When you are typecast t means that studios know how to use you. …Once I did the Spock character, I never again had to be concerned about what my next job was; I always had work available. I had 15 years of worrying about how I was going to support a family.

For much more listen to the entire interview at

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Woo-Hooo I’m number 1!!! Nice interview, unlike Shatner NImoy knows he’s not God’s gift to entertainment

Yes but, Shatner IS Gods gift to entertainment??? You mean he actually isn’t?

Good to see Leonard Nimoy saying he was typecast but happy with the fact. More actors should do the same.

Worked better for him than it did Bert Lahr.

Have to agree with Josh–Shatner is indeed God’s gift to entertainment. But that’s obvious. What isn’t obvious is why the interviewer didn’t ask about Trek XI. I’m more interested in Nimoy’s take on that, rather than hearing a 20 year old comment about how he wanted to lighten things up.

Glad to see Leonard’s comfortable with his alter-ego. For so many years he didn’t no which way to point his Lirpa.

I really hope J.J. & Company find a way to incorporate The SHAT and The Nimoyster in Star Trek XI. They both have a lot less time in front of them than behind them and it would be great to have them “chew it up” one more time. Provided, of course, the scenery is tasty and “right.”

I meant “he didn’t KNOW…” Dear God, my fingers aren’t workin’ sith morning.

i really liked nimoy vs. comadore decker power-play scenes together they sadly cut from TDM…for booring ads no one watches…sad…as it was the best part of the story line for “cabot cove”s former sherriff…as portrayed by actor william windom.

I think Nimoy, more than anyone in front of or behind the camera, gets Star Trek.

To some extent, I wish he has some creative involvement with the next movie. But one thing we’ll know for sure, if Nimoy want nothing to do with the movie (like “Generations”), we’ll know the movie won’t be that good.

Thanks for the reminder from I am not… uh, ok I am… Spock.
Humor is vital. The humor (were those jokes?) in Nemesis was forced.
II, VI, and especially the non-Trekkie favorite IV made the humor part of the plot. It was FUN to go see these flicks. Let’s hope XI is multi-layered, with lots of laughs that make sense for the characters. (NO FART JOKES!!!!)

Look, Nimoy seems like a nice enough man and all, but he was dead wrong in bringing the absurd farcical tone to Trek IV that he did. In ST:II+III we saw the crew deal with the drama of death, honour and friendship. Very heavy and emotional stuff; Also very moving and entertaining. Nimoy gets control of the reins and what does he want to do with the third and final part to this trilogy? Why, chase after whales in the 20th century while cracking jokes, of course! There was no conflict or sense of drama to this storyline whatsoever. Think about it; If they couldn’t secure George and Gracie to bring back, Kirk and crew (being time travel) had literally all the time in the world to, at leisure, go out over the ocean and get two more whales. And being back in time, they could take two years to do it and still get home (to the 23rd century) in time for dinner! Where’s the “edge of your seat” entertainment in that? To totally ruin the third part to this three film story arc would be like George Lucas taking his original Star Wars saga and in the third film, Return of the Jedi, have the main characters run off and join the friggin’ Ice Capades!! Nimoy blew it big time and that’s when Star Trek lost it for me!!

#9 brings up a hell of a point. Without a Nimoy endorsement, Trek XI will likely suck.

The Nimoyster??

The Shatnurchin??

How about this looks like a job for Supernimoy!!?

I thin the man is lying. Take a look at IMDB. He had far more roles in the few years before Star Trek than in the decades after – and all of them bit parts and guest stars. He also directed only a handful of movies and hasn’t been behind the camera in almost 15 years.

Amen, Appleton. Amen. I’m sick of people treating Nimoy like some kind of sacred cow. He did an OK job on III, but totally screwed the pooch on IV. I watch IV less than I watch any other Trek movie, except for Nemesis. It’s a detestable, cloying piece of garbage intended for non-Star Trek fans. However well-directed, it was a flawed work from the start. 3 Men and a Baby was shit, pure and simple.

I have a feeling J.J. Abrams understands Trek, because he understands character development, and real honest-to-god drama. The problem with Trek for the last, oh, fifteen years, has been that they’ve developed dramatic storylines with characters nobody gives a shit about. The closest to original Trek has been, dare I say it, Deep Space Nine, which was god-awful for many, many reasons, but not because of its character relationships. I’ve watched every episode of LOST, and if the character writing he brought to that show is brought to a Star Trek movie, then we are all in for a great surprise.

When it comes to Star Trek, Nimoy is a sacred cow, goat, human, Vulcan, or whatever it is that should be revered.

Star Trek IV had a universal appeal, and Nimoy was 2 for 2 when it came to Trek movies. Many Trek fans rank TVH right behind TWOK as the best Trek movies. You absolutely have the right to your opinion, but you’re in the minority.

As for 3 Men and a Baby, you seem to be in the minority there as well.

As for DS9 being the closest to the original Trek, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Where the original series was optimistic, DS9 was dark and pessimistic. Not that I didn’t enjoy the show, I did. I always say that it was great television, but not great Star Trek. Nothing wrong with that.

With Abrams, he may indeed understand Trek well. Too early to tell. I’ll be interested in seeing him actually write a storyline that doesn’t take 2 years to move forward. But I agree that the characters on Lost are excellent, and he certainly has the talent to make a good movie–especially given that he was wise enough to choose the best characters in the Star Trek universe to work with.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Nimoy absolutely understands Trek as well as anyone alive, and his seal of approval carries more weight than just about anyone else.

With all due respect to #s 11 & 17, yours are not a baseline opinion re: Nimoy’s Trek films. You didn’t like IV, that much is obvious. A lot of fans, including myself do enjoy it a lot. Nimoy is not a “sacred cow” he just happens to be a literate, talented filmmaker who has contributed to Star Trek in ways that overshadow most of his colleagues. Don’t lose perspective on Nimoy’s importance to the franchise as a whole because you didn’t dig one of his films. The man fabricated much of the Vulcan mythos on his own– this “nice enough fellow” is a gifted storyteller. And I tell you what, in dollars-adjusted-for inflation, Abrams would kill to have a movie do business like Trek IV. No, not all movies that make money are assumed to be great, but Trek IV connected to a lot of people- mainstream audiences AND fans. Don’t be surprised if Trek XI attempts to do the same (especially if they spend $100 million on the picture).

#18 Good points, I didn’t see your post until after I made my comment.

I remember on this very site, when we discussed Nick Meyer’s contribution to the franchise, I was very surprised to see so many people detracting from that man’s work. I mean come on, it’s Nick Meyer, Mr. Wrath of Khan we’re talking about here! Fans we’re upset over the galley in Star Trek VI! You canna have fresh-baked bread on the Enterprise! Well, coming to this site is my first online interaction with Trek fans, well pretty much ever. I’m not a messageboard guy and I usually keep my own counsel on what I like and dislike when it comes to Star Trek. But coming here has been a lot of fun these past few months- I like the discussion and debate and I appreciate everyone being civil…

That being said, I am constantly surprised by what people say about these shows. People strongly disliking Trek IV? I mean, I understand why some people would think it’s too light-hearted, but the movie did no harm whatsoever to the franchise. At the very least, it doesn’t contain as much repeat-viewing value as the more action-oriented pictures. But IMHO a movie like Generations, which desecrated Star Trek in multiple ways, is a far more egregious film that Trek IV on its worst day. And don’t get me started on Insurrection and Nemesis… woah. But then again, someone could be reading my comments and saying “Man, Adam is plum crazy!” And they would be right, I’m crazy in the head, but my opinions are always correct! ;)

Star Trek IV was a great movie and Nimoy is a very talented actor and a fine but not spectacular director. He is also a very intelligent and thoughtful man, which was a great asset to the franchise up until 1991. He has good instincts and he knows that character in particular inside and out. As to the quality of Star Trek IV, I refer you to that old Elvis Presley album titled “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong”. I realize popularity and success does not necessarily go hand in hand with quality, but given the popularity and success of that movie, people who would trash it are fighting a pretty strong wave in the opposite direction.

re:16. Mark 2000
“I thin the man is lying. Take a look at IMDB. He had far more roles in the few years before Star Trek than in the decades after – and all of them bit parts and guest stars. He also directed only a handful of movies and hasn’t been behind the camera in almost 15 years. ”

I think you may be a little harsh here, especially with the last part of your statement. I think he has not been behind the camera in the last 15 years simply by choice. He decided he had other things he wanted to do with his time. He has more or less been retired, in other words, just doing the few things that he wants to do.

About the years directly following the Star Trek series, you may be closer to correct. He did go right into Mission Impossible for a couple years right after Star Trek and then did quite a few things on stage, as well as the In Search Of TV Series. I’m sure typecasting was more of an annoyance for him back then as he was still in the middle of his acting career.

I think that he has just gradually over the years come to accept the typecasting and the fact that he is a TV/Movie Series Icon and is well aware that that is where the gravy train was for him. Star Trek, in the long run, provided him with many opportunities he would not have had if he had not been a part of it. He knows this now, and appreciates it more, though it may have been frustrating for him earlier. That’s the way life is.
Personally I can appreciate events now that happened over the years that I never considered significant while they were happening….and things that onced seemed important no longer hold any importance for me. Nimoy is no different, outside of the fact that many of his ‘events’ happened in the public eye and have been documented.

There are far worse roles to be typecast into.
Consider most of the cast of most of the shows in the 60’s. How many Irwin Allen alums had break-out roles? Or the ever-bitter Jay North of Dennis the Menace. Or hell… Erkel.
Most working actors are lucky for occassional moments in major productions. A FEW are lucky enough to have a role or two that sticks with them.
Besides, Nimoy defined not only that role, but a whole fictional race. Many of the actors who followed were nowhere near as interesting as Vulcans.

Hi Anthony –
What happened to the re-reviews of the movies and the lessons learned from them that would apply to XI? I really enjoyed reading those and after reading this thread just realized that after trek-iii they stopped or did I miss them somewhere along the line??

Anyway, I would love to see those pick back up again and am also looking forward to the followup interview with Norman Spinrad.

Keep up the great work here. I have made it a daily habit to drop by and see what’s up.


To the Nimoy knockers, as far as I’m concerned you don’t have a clue.
Others have already stated his contribution to the Trek universe. Comedy has always been a key element in Trek and sorry to disagree with Anthony but every series of Trek had good comedy episodes.
My one hope for XI is it contains a good mix of drama and humor.

I’ll weigh in as a long-time fan who loved ST:IV. Just as Trek had its silly episodes i.e. Tribbles, Piece of the Action, Shore Leave, I, Mudd, etc., that movie gave our characters a chance to shine in ways we didn’t get to see that often. Dumb plot yes, bad movie, no.

And CmdrR., yes, no other actor that followed Nimoy as a Vulcan shone the way he did (with the exception of Mark Lenard). Its a testament to his skill as an actor that he could play “logical” without coming off as a cold, bitchy prig.

Tim Russ came close, but I often felt he was trying to impersonate Nimoy, with varying levels of success.

I went to this book signing about ten years ago. Nimoy was signing copies of “I am Spock” and promoting his Alien Voices books-on-tape. In his little pre-signing talk, he stated that, despite what most people say, he didn’t refuse Generations because they offered him too little money. He refused it because he didn’t like the story. Well, that’s noble…but then one has to ask why he did ST: V? Perhaps some feelings of obligation to his co-star director, Shatner? Who knows. Although, I am in agreement with those who are not fans of ST IV. It was GREAT when I was ten or fifteen. Going back in time…seeing 23rd century folks in the 1980s. Very entertaining. The jokes were fun. But you get to this point where you realize how vapid the plot really was. And the actress who plays Gillian, the CRAZY whale-lover, is just plain aweful. She should stick to Seventh Heaven where she belongs. She really ruined the movie for me. IV isn’t UNWATCHABLE, but the camp does get a bit painful. Sometimes I feel V has a few more redeeming qualities. The plot is just as crappy, but I do like the relationship between Kirk-Spock-McCoy. Anyway…this is all my opinion, obviously, and yes…I am in a minority. Eh…whatevs. =) Take care, all.

#20 “I like the discussion and debate and I appreciate everyone being civil..” Adam, I agree with you that it’s great fun to debate with fellow Trekkers on this website! Everyone, for the most part, keeps a civil tongue in their mouth and for those who don’t, it’s always fun to get off a cynical barb in their direction! I love the dark humour when I read such shots as, “What are you, the poster child for birth control?” YAGOTTALUVIT!
Congratulations to Anthony Pascale for providing such a great forum to discuss TREK!

One last note. I think sometimes actors get to a certain age where they realize that the best years are behind them and that they should appreciate what they had. Nimoy no longer has the luxury of dismissing his role as Spock as he did twenty years ago. For a long time, Sean Connery was critical of his role as James Bond. He demanded more and more money and did not like the notion of being typecast. However, in more recent years, Connery has praised the role for boosting his acclaim and jump-starting his later acting career. I believe we are seeing some of the same with Nimoy. Now that times are finally slowing…after sixteen years of NOT being in a major role, he is certainly going to look back on the old days and appreciate what he had – a typecast, pointed ear, logician.

Leonard Nimoy has always come across as a class act. He is talented and successful but it seems that it never went to his head. Typecasting sure has helped a lot of actors in the past 40 years: action heroes, villiams, romantic-comedy leads. There are quite a few out there. I think that it is unfair that some great actors are not allowed to do what they are best at, and others get criticized for doing just that. Then there are a handful that have blockbuster after blockbuster, despite most of their work being in horrible films.

#18. StillKirok –

“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” may not have been the closest to “The Original Series”, but it was the best overall series in the franchise.

It was not as optimistic as TOS, but most of DS9 took place in the middle of a war. Look at the world today…you have mixed feelings all over the place about the war on terror – sometimes from the same sources! A war is an up and down struggle with morale, each and every day.

DS9 dealt with many issues in the same way that TOS was so groundbreaking at doing, but don’t fault DS9 because it dealt with different issues. You can’t expect the same ones to be presented the same way. If you think that the franchise has gotten a little lackluster recently, it would have been more so if it wasn’t for DS9 15 years ago.

I love TOS and I will never drag it down as a whole. It had some less than stellar moments, as does any series, but TOS is still relevant today because those issues are still relevent today. That’s why we are still talking about it. That’s why we’re passionate about Trek XI.

I agree that Nimoy is a great ambassador for the franchise and his involvement could help bring this “trek” full circle. I think that if he is involved at all – if we get that news – then I think that we can breathe a sigh of relief. I believe that he will get involved in it as much as he believes in it. He has always struck me as a man of principle.

If he doesn’t direct, I respect him for that. If he thinks that Abrams is the man to take this forward then, then I trust his judgment.

“Look, up in the sky!! Is it a pointy-eared bird? Is it a Stealth Vulcan? No, it’s…SuperNimoy!!” (cue music from Adventures of Superman)

Of course Nimoy wrote the book “I am not Spock”

At cons back then we heard that Shat was doing a book “I’m not Spock, Either!”

And DeForrest Kelley was doing “Well, I Must be McCoy Then!”

(Just sharing a gag I hadn’t told in over 20 years.)

I agree since Nimoy has been there in the beginning he should have a bit of a edge on Shatner about Star Trek. He understands the fundamentals of the kind of stories Trek is good at it.. Slowly but surely during the spin-offs the kind of stories Trek can tell were fading. the audience since 93 started to leave. Some of it wasn’t there at all or it just didn’t work. If its a project that didn’t sound good Nimoy was a smart businessman and was wise to stay away.

I never want to see a film where we are dealing with Death, Resurrection, time travel, revenge, another space battle, misplaced bad humor, or romance its been done and some of it to death in the trek films.

From what I remember people who were not even Star Trek fans loved TVH. It made you think about our future. The issue on our environment and its future and it is still relevant today. To non Trek fans it become the “One with the Whales” and people got it.

If the critics dont like XI more than likely people will go see something else or nothing at all. Today’s audience I feel isn’t a bunch of idiots looking for the next film with a bunch of space explosions or plenty of action *cough* like the last movie.

Just a good story to tell leaving a good feeling when we walk out of the theatre.. Good interview

I always thought it was interesting that he wrote a book called “I am Not Spock” in the 70’s, then eventually followed up with “I am Spock” in the 90’s. Sort of a coming full-circle…but his experience and talents go WAY beyond the Spock character, as we all know :)

I thought Trek 4 was good.I didn’t like the idea that most of the movie took place on present day earth and the lingering loss of the Enterprise.Not my favorite Trek,but good camp.the masses liked it.

Scarborough just reported Sumner Redstone said he’d work with Cruise again.Our next Spock?that’s showbiz.

I’ll take sliding my entire body down a freshly sharpened fifty foot razor blade into a giant vat of iodine over watching Tom Cruise portray Mr. Spock in a Star Trek Film!

You can say that again.

And not that I want Nimoy to play Spock again, but I don’t think anyone else should either until he has been dead for at least 27.25 years.

O.K., I’ll bite…..why 27.25 years?

Well, Spock likes to be very precise. :)

#38 That’s what they said about Lestat in “Interview With A Vampire”

I’m trying to imagine what else would precipitate Sumner Redstone’s about face regarding Cruise and his conciliatory language about them working together again in the future.Something had to change his mind.My hunch is that The Trek project and Abram’s loyalty to Cruise(as Spock) is playing a factor.Pure speculation on my part.

#38.Sorry to address you twice ,but the movie is supposed to have mainstream appeal.Cruise is Mr. Mainstream (in search of a likable character to redeem his PR mess).Sumner,needs a bankable cast to relauch Trek.Oh…The economics of hollywood.

Tom Cruise=waste of screen space

Much respect to Leonard Nimoy. I look forward to when William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy appear later this year at the Las Vegas Creation Star Trek Convention. What a great pair on stage! My Star Trek year is not complete without seeing them at least once a year in-person.

#44 “Cruise is Mr. Mainstream”. We’re all entitled to our opinion, but personally I think Tom Cruise is the shittiest actor on the planet and that includes high school plays, amateur productions, children’s recitals,….the list goes on. He must have sold his soul to the Devil because the man is without talent!!

#47 Your entitled to YOUR opinion.I’m just stating the facts and there’s box office reciepts to prove it.Thanks for your opinion.

re:4. Admiraldeem
Worked better for him than it did Bert Lahr.


I think if Tom Cruise wanted to play Spock he’d have the role tomorrow.I’m gonna say Cruise will be cast as this iconic character based on his close association with the producers and his history of playing against type(Lestat).