In a TrekMovie.com exclusive, Leonard Nimoy talks for the first time about returning as Spock in the J.J. Abrams new Star Trek film. In this first of two parts the original Spock talks about the script and new team, why he didn’t appear in Generations and why he decided to come out of retirement for this film.
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TrekMovie.com: I know you first talked to J.J. Abrams and his team late last year, but when was it first clear to you and them that you were going to be in the film?
Leonard Nimoy: When I first read the script…which was about three months ago. I immediately contacted J.J. and said “I think it is terrific…I think you guys have done a wonderful job. There is still work to be done, but it is very clear that you and your writers know what you are doing and you know how to do this movie and know what it should be about….and I am very interested.” Then as time went by we worked things out with Paramount, but the most important things were J.J. and the script. I can tell you is that they have a very fine script and that J.J. is an awesome director and they have done a wonderful job of finding Zachary Quinto who not only is going to look enough like me to make it work, but is also the perfect actor. I am very pleased about that and I am very comfortable with where this is going. I think the writers have done a terrific job. They have a real sense of the characters and the heart of Star Trek and what it is really all about. and I think we have a chance to make a really fine movie
TrekMovie.com: When you say a sense of the heart of what it is really all about, what do you think that ‘heart’ of Star Trek is that they have captured.
Leonard Nimoy: It is the camaraderie…I am talking the original Star Trek, I can’t speak for The Next Generation or Enterprise or Deep Space Nine or any of them. I am talking about the original concept of the camaraderie between these people. The professionalism of these people. Their sense of humor…which I think is terribly important. And the idea that these are very professional people that work together to solve problems. And the problems are not between these people and amongst themselves, but the problems are from outside forces of various kinds that they have to encounter and deal with. These are people who you enjoy rooting for and you have confidence in and I think that is terribly important. And also to know that when they joke with each other it is out of respect for each other – they respect and admire each other and count on each other. All those elements I think are available and [co-writers Bob] Orci and [Alex] Kurtzman understand that and J.J. certainly understands that and has a grasp of that.
TrekMovie.com: You mentioned humor. Humor was a key part of The Original Series and of course the films you were most involved in…especially IV. So is this movie funny?
Leonard Nimoy: [laughs] I think it is going to have its share of humor. It is going to be a great adventure. I think the idea of the origin of these characters is going to be wonderfully handled with great sense of respect and a light touch. I expect they are going to do it very well.
TrekMovie.com: Many Star Trek fans have voiced concerns over the new film and its place in Star Trek’s so called ‘canon.’ From what you know, do you think the film fit within the Star Trek universe?
Leonard Nimoy: Yah…I don’t have any qualms about that. I think these writers and J.J. have taken great pains to see to that they honor the Star Trek history and the Star Trek canon. I don’t think there is going to be any problem with that at all…this is not an issue. I have seen quibbles on the Internet with people very nicely concerned. Saying “who else can play Kirk and Spock…it is not possible.” Well it is possible. Don’t worry. Once people see this film and see how good it is all those quibbles will go away. Are they respectful? Are they trampling on history? Will the canon be intact? None of that stuff is going to happen.
TrekMovie.com: back in 1993 you were approached to be in Star Trek Generations along with Bill [Shatner] and you declined…
Leonard Nimoy: [interjecting] There was no Spock role in that script!
TrekMovie.com: There wasn’t?
Leonard Nimoy: There was not a Spock role….there were five or six lines attributed to Spock in a scene with Chekov and Uhura and Kirk and whoever else was there, but it had nothing to do with Spock. They were not Spock-like in anyway. I said to Rick Berman “you could distribute these lines to any one of the other characters and it wouldn’t make any difference.” And that is exactly what he did. There was no Spock function in the script. I have always tried to make a contribution to these movies. There was no contribution to be made in that movie. It was just sort of ‘lets get Nimoy in here too.’ I said there is nothing here I can do so I said “thanks, but I’ll pass.”
TrekMovie.com: Now in the case of the new movie you have been retired from acting for years. What was it about this one that made you want to act again and go through the make up again? What was it that made you say ‘I really want to do this?’
Leonard Nimoy: You are right, this is a special situation. First it is Star Trek and so I have to pay attention. I owe that to Star Trek. Second place is that it is J.J. Abrams who I think very highly of, he is a very talented guy. Then came the script and it was very clear that I could make a contribution here. The Spock character that I am playing, the original Spock character, is essential and important to the script. So on the basis of those three elements it was easy to make the decision. So those three things: Star Trek, J.J. Abrams, and an interesting Spock role.
TrekMovie.com: So you have a meaty role in this film?
Leonard Nimoy: I would not refer to it as a cameo, it has been referred to as a cameo in various press and I wouldn’t describe it like that. Cameo is a brief appearance in one scene. This is a functional role in the film.
TrekMovie.com: So you have multiple scenes in the film?
Leonard Nimoy: Yes
TrekMovie.com: Could you say if they are woven throughout the film or are they bookends or just at one end or the other?
Leonard Nimoy: Don’t push it [laughs]
TrekMovie.com: After working as a director, is it at all difficult to be an actor and take direction again?
Leonard Nimoy: No…particularly when I have respect for the director like J.J. I am looking forward to this film much more so than I have looked forward to acting in anything for a long time…I really am. Because I have a great expectation that the character is going to play well and that it is going to be extremely well directed with a sense of what the characters are all about with a sense of how to create drama in a scene. I am looking forward to being part of that I really am.
Part 2: CLICK to read part 2
Mr. Nimoy talks more about his role, Zachary Quinto, William Shatner and J.J Abrams as a director
(PHOTOS: Albert L. Ortega)