Laurence Luckinbill Says Leonard Nimoy Nimoy Wanted To Play Sybok In Star Trek V

In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier we learned that Spock had a half-brother. The fully Vulcan Sybok was played by actor Laurence Luckinbill who has revealed that things were a bit icy between him and Leonard Nimoy. Apparently Nimoy wanted to play both Spock and his brother. Details below.


Luckinbill: Nimoy Wanted To Play Sybok

In an interview with Star, actor Laurence Luckinbill talked about his time on the set of William Shatner’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, including how things with actor Leonard Nimoy weren’t exactly brotherly. Luckinbill explains:

Luckinbill: He did not say one word to me for quite a long time, other than “Hello,” because, I found out later, he had really, really pushed hard to have this be a double role, a dual role for him. I don’t know if this is absolutely true. That was the scuttlebutt and I got that from very high up in the food chain of information, that Leonard wanted to play Sybok and play Spock. That would have been a tremendous thing, to do that, but since they weren’t twins, they cast me. I think that Bill wanted a separate actor, and he was right. We were very different people. The best compliment I got was, in the last scenes, 20 or 25 weeks later, Leonard looked at me and said, “You know, you’re terrific in this.” I thought that was a great send-off.

Luckinbill (R) says Nimoy (L) wanted to play his character Sybok in "Star Trek V"

The actor also talked about the general negative reaction the film got from fans and critics, saying:

Luckinbill: I was surprised and disappointed that anybody hated the film. I thought it came down to their dislike of Bill himself. That seemed to be the leading edge of the whole thing, Shatner’s need for comeuppance, blah, blah, blah, “He’s too arrogant,” this and that. I did agree with one of the streams of comment that said that the film was in two pieces. It broke in half with the comedy of the old guard trying to retire and not being able to, climbing and joking with each other in the woods and singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and the serious story of Spock’s brother, who is attempting to change the universe with this movement of power. I felt the movement of power story was by far the more interesting part of the movie, but that may be because it was my story.

For more from Luckinbill, see the full interview at

Luckinbill thinks critics of "Star Trek V" had issues with director William Shatner (R)


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Unequivocally, the worst two hours in Star Trek history.

Nimoy wanting to play a double role does not ring true. In Shatner’s book on the Trek movies he says that he wanted Sean Connery to play Sybok. It seems unlikely that Nimoy would be pushing to play a twin.

I thought Mr. Luckinbill’s performance was one of the finer aspects of the film. As to the rumor, if untrue perhaps Mr. Nimoy was simply annoyed by Shatner’s directorial style or something along those lines and it just made him irritable. Or perhaps he simply disliked the idea of an emotional Vulcan

Likely, after Connery passed on the project, Nimoy tried to pitch the dual role idea.

I read this story a couple of days ago… I haven’t read much about behind-the-scenes drama, but this and the other anecdotes are… fascinating.

I’ll never forget coming out of the theater after this film feeling SO disappointed. After so much anticipation, the likes of which I just don’t feel for the “new” crew, this was a big let down.

Always loved Luckinbill as Sybok. A very charismatic actor and a very interesting villain…that wasn’t really a villain. And I will always love Trek 5 for delivering a film that, to this day, remains closest in spirit to the original series. That’s all I ever asked for in the movie series and Trek 5 delivered in spades.

I don’t know about this. I never got the sense that Nimoy would be that self-centered and egotistical to demand a dual role. I think either Lawrence Luckinbill or someone else at Paramount was pulling something out of their asses.

@7 – I find that almost impossible to believe. The fact that this movie turned Spock into someone that would sacrifice his friends and ship for a half-brother he can barely stand (as he is about to do in the scene portrayed above), just makes me hate it even more. And the slapstick in which they turned Scotty into a clown? Terrible. And the focus on the hocus-pocus, mumbo-jumbo that is religion? Insulting. I believe it was the film least in touch with the original series.

That there was so much negative reaction to the film had nothing to do with people hating Shatner.

It had to do with this little matter of the film sucking, sucking the very light from the stars the Enterprise flies by, sucking the green blood from every living Vulcan, sucking like the Atmospheric Vacuum Cleaner in Spaceballs.

Yeah, I think that had something to do with it.

The *story* was puerile. Actually, Shatner’s *direction* wasn’t bad – but his rock monster wouldn’t have saved it.

I think this flick is the most in tune with the workaday average episode vibe of TOS – generally swinging for big ideas but getting a bit sidetracked by awkward plotting & lower production values. Let’s just say that not every TOS episode is “Space Seed”. And while “Wrath of Khan” is a worthy successor to that episode, I’d say that “Final Frontier” is a worthy successor to something, like, “The Apple”. It’s not the genius camp level of something like “Spock’s Brain” but it has ideas in there which are fun to explore & “what does God need is a starship” I think is still one of my favouritest Kirk lines in the entire series.

Where’s Sybock in the JJ-verse? Still searching for God? Get blown up on Vulcan? IDW series plotline potential here!

Personally, I always liked Star Trek V. There are some good character moments, and Jerry Goldsmith’s score is fantastic. I think some minor re-editing and a bit of effects clean-ups would make it worthy of the franchise to all but the biggest haters.

The Rock Monster probably would not have saved “The Final Frontier”, but damn, it would have been fun to watch in a movie that sucks.

@6 – Me too. I was 16, my dad and I went to see it — him being open but not really a fan of Star Trek — and I walked out feeling embarrassed. I think it was one of only three or four times I was embarrassed to be a Star Trek fan.

@9, re:@7

I agree w/ jonboc. This movie did come close to to the original format. Was the Shat a bit over the top? Absolutely, he was. But I feel, In general it was a great movie with all the elements of the original vision…

@9- ” I find that almost impossible to believe. The fact that this movie turned Spock into someone that would sacrifice his friends and ship for a half-brother he can barely stand (as he is about to do in the scene portrayed above), just makes me hate it even more.”

I’m sorry, but I can’t Imagine Spock pulling the trigger on anyone at point blank range, let alone his own Brother. It was interesting to see the dilemma unfold. Spock, as we all know is non-violent Is faced with a difficult choice- And I believe the question he faced was this: Was there any chance that this situation can be resolved in a non violent fashion? And the answer was yes. And disobeying a direct order was secondary to the primary issue. Very Spock-like performance, and good storytelling IMHO.

Overall, I give the movie a C+, or 3 out of 5 stars.

Star Trek V came out on June 9th, 1989. I remember seeing the first commercial for it and I was REALLY excited. I couldn’t wait to see the “new” Enterprise and the original crew in action again. TNG was struggling through its’ second season and, when I saw the commercial for TFF during the first-run broadcast of “Up the Long Ladder..” I said, “Thank GOD! The real crew is coming back because this TNG show sucks!”

Then, something happened: I went to see Star Trek V and I realized, about a half hour into the film, that it was a terrible movie. Don’t get me wrong, it has some redeeming qualities (some “Big three” scenes and a good soundtrack) but overall it was a colossal failure on all levels. I remember being so excited to see this movie that I was actually shaking. I didn’t get to see it on opening day like the others in the series so I was really jazzed to see this film. Then all my 12 year old hopes came crashing down when I realized it was just full of forced humor, crappy re-dresses of the TNG sets, special effects that looked like something from Superman IV and a script that just stunk!

To top it off, when I got home from the debacle that was Star Trek V, the TNG episode that was on was “Manhunt”. I really thought, that day, that Star Trek was dying.

St 6 saved this series of movies from the never do one again..Star Trek 5 sucked

The soundtrack is great.


“I think some minor re-editing and a bit of effects clean-ups would make it worthy of the franchise to all but the biggest haters.”

Yeah, kind of like putting whipped cream on a pile of crap. You might pretty it up a bit, and make it look a bit less like a pile of shit, but at the end of the day you can’t change the fact that its a pile of crap!


With over half of the movies budget being doled out to some of these bloated self righteous retiree’s of course the movie was lacking, but It had SOME potential. And I agree, the rock suits were so pathetic it wouldn’t have made any difference.

I liked this movie, esp Sybok and the FABulous score.

Know what I hated the most? There were phallus-es EVERYwhere, from the hairstyles on the Klingon and the Romulan women to the rocks THRUSTing out of the ground to create that dome where they met ‘god.’

I love how those who hate on this film, and trash talk when fans bring up the fact that final frontier is really the closest in spirit in the TV series.
are the same ones who trash talk fans who mention the problems in Trek 09, which is quite frankly the farthest away in spirit from what makes Trek out of any of the movies that feature the characters of TOS.

Just an observation

I can usually find enough in a Trek movie or series to like even if there are a lot of fans who hate it, i.e. Enterprise. Can’t say the same about Star Trek V, I figured that eventually it would grow on me. Still waiting for eventually to get here.

I will say it isn’t the worst 2 hours of Trek. Watching TATV twice in a row is.

#4- Connery has stated he would have loved to have done STV but he was committed to Indiana Jones- even that would not have helped the movie’s box office…..
One original blurb for the movie was that the theaters need to install seat belts for this roller coaster ride- I agreed- to keep the audience from walking out…

For me the order goes like this

Star Trek II
Star Trek First Contact
Star Trek V
Star Trek VI
Star Trek TMP
Star Trek III
Star TrekIV
Star Trek Generations, Star Trek Nemesis (Tied)
Star Trek XI
Star Trek Insurection

Now having put my preferences in order, I LOVE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THOSE MOVIES,and just because a movie might be at the bottom or near bottom of my prefferance doesnt mean I dont get enjoyment and entertainment out of it.

#9 …sorry it’s so hard to believe. the Spock thing isn’t a deal breaker for me, especially when considering the steps he took to help Pike. Yes, it’s hard to believe he might go to those lengths for Sybok, but he clearly is capable of going to those lengths. And I would agree the Scotty bit is groan inducing. But you can thank the success of Trek 4 for that. But what Trek 5 DOES have…from best acting for De Kelley,ever…to the friendship and final realization that Kirk, Spock and McCoy are family… heavily outweigh the negatives. 70 something decks? So what, bad editing.Saw it in TOS too and it didn’t ruin that. Bad FX, yeah, but arguably theyre as crude as those in TOS…and I have no problem with those. Trek 5 brought back the Galileo…original TOS bridge sound FX, Jerry Goldsmith, a teaser before the opening credits, kicking’ it old school! It introduced the best phaser design since the original. it introduced the beautiful observation room. Love how Shatner moves the camera and composes his scenes. yeah, some serious love for Trek 5 here…so much to enjoy and no more “problems”, really, than are easily found in the other films. Sorry the haters can’t see the forrest for the trees. :)

STV would have been a great success if they’d not cut the scene with Shatner fighting five rock men.

26 thats perfectly put, right there.

I’ve never understood the argument that the bad special effects were the problem with this one. I never even thought of them being all that bad at the time. It wasn’t until years later that I really noticed the downgrade from previous films.

Nope, the problem with TFF has always lied with the script. Mr Luckinbill hits on it in his quote, if the movie had focused on the Sybok story and dumped all the dumb subplots and juvenile attempts at humor, it might have worked a lot better, bad VFX or not.

And honestly, I’d take Trek 2009 over TFF any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

You have to admit it would be kind of humorous if the new universe Trek movies have the opposite public reaction that the classic trek movies did.
you know Treks 1 3 5 are considered great and New Treks 2, 4 and 6 are not as succsefull as there classic trek counterparts.

Star Trek 09 was a fantastic extravaganza that excelled in many ways , but it was lacking in one thing. It did not feel right. Now, I know the vision was not to recreate the original series, but certain things should have gone without saying. The bridge for example, was mind blowing, but it did not feel like the bridge of the NCC- 1701.
They utterly failed in representing the interior of the Enterprise, including the engine room… now THAT was a total embarrassment. Hopefully the powers that, for the time being hold the reigns will get it closer to what we’ve grown to expect, and in some cases, love.

There are two Star Trek shows that when I watch them, I groan. TOS’ Spock’s Brain. And there is Star Trek V. The two lowest points in the franchise.

The problems for Star Trek V were numerous. But the worst parts. Spock-Kirk-McCoy singing “Row your boat.” Uhura does a fan dance. Scotty knocks himself out. All this silliness done while searching for God!

Yet…. there’s Jerry Goldsmith’s magnificent score. And there’s the Kirk-Spock friendship. Romulan amassador played by Cynthia Gouw was gorgeous.

Imagine if Cumberbatch were playing a pissed off, post-apocalypse Sybok. It could work actually.

I actually like Star Trek 5. Maybe it’s a product of cognitive dissonance, because even though much of the story doesn’t seem to work, I still like it. Granted it’s near the bottom on my list of Trek, but I dunno…Maybe I’m incapable of disliking something Star Trek (except the last few seasons of Voyager)

I even like Insurrection and Enterprise, Enterprise (exc. Season 2) is my 2nd favourite series. So perhaps my opinion doesn’t much count :P

I can’t say I overly liked Luckinbill’s performance. He’s a good actor, and very charismatic which helped the role, but an emotional Vulcan needed to be more emotive. Like full on manic, I would think.

Trek V had its problems, and some good scenes, but I always thought ILM quality effects would have made it much more successful. The bridge scene just before they beam down to Sha Ka Ree? for me has the feel of 3rd season TOS. Oddly the STVTFF plot is reminiscent of Roddenberry’s (so far) unpublished “The God Thing.” Don’t get the instant Spock brother angle, understand why Nimoy would be skeptical.

ST V needed a VERY savvy screenwriter in order to make it work. Shatner’s initial instinct to get someone like Lustbader to write it was good-it’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out. Balancing the humor and the darker subject matter was always going to be tricky, and although I think Loughery meant well, he wasn’t right for this material. Add in Shatner’s inexperience at shooting features and an FX house that was in over their heads and you end up with a well-intentioned mess.

Bill did a nice job shooting the picture-he was a far more visually interesting director than Nimoy, who had more of a “point-and-shoot” style.

While the idea of Sybok was ridiculous, I thought Luckinbill did a wonderful job in the role.

@ 28

From one basement dweller to another, thanks for that. I did not know there was supposed to be rock creatures. That would have rocked. Um… sorry.

Yay! trekmovie put up a count-down! It’s about time! (get it? it’s about TIME? time?, nevermind)

Any-who, that’s probably for the US release date, since I am pretty sure that it will be released like 3 weeks earlier in other countries. That’s the way it goes now-a-days.

I find I enjoy it more now after having read that a number of people belive the non-Yellowstone parts of the movie to be a dream of Kirk’s while they’re camping.

I cringed when I saw the rock climbing and campfire scenes. The rest may have been tolerable although I haven’t watched it since it came out. I do remember Luckinbill doing a fine job though.

Everyone blames Shatner, but this movie might have been the purest expression of Gene Roddenberry’s obsession with making a movie about humanity vs. God.

Yay! We’re putting up our favorite Star Trek movies in order!

OK, here’s mine:

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: Generations
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek: Nemesis

I think it would have been cooler to see Nimoy in the Sybok role, but whatevs.

Horrible Trek idea – horrible script – horrible direction.
All of the actors did a great job with what they had… I just
wish they could undo it…

#1 – TFF is far from the worst of Trek. Generations, Insurrection, Nemesis and a host of episodes from TNG on forward yield far more cringes than TFF ever did.

TFF was hamstrung by Shatner’s directorial grasp exceeding his reach, a studio that wasn’t willing to put up the money necessary to help bring the film’s vision to fruition and an uneven script with some badly placed attempts at humor (which I suspect was due in no small part to more studio meddling).

Yes the humor of the Yellowstone scenes is forced and weak and the production values and effects leave a lot to be desired. But this movie more than any other really peels away the layers of the main three characters and really examines the bond that they share. The whole notion of going in search of God and finding something terrible is also a theme that Roddenberry would have embraced. In those respects, for all its faults, it did have something to say and was able to add some interesting lore to the Trek mythos, something that cannot be said of a lot of the Trek that followed it.

@28, Thank You for the link, I never knew they actually build the rock creatures and they look great. They should have went ahead and shot the scenes. Paramount really short changed this movie. If they would have toned back the comedy and used a better FX company Trek 5 would have been a classic. Mr. Shatner deserves a directors edition.

It was amazing to see just how much Shatner as Director didn’t understand the Kirk character after having played him for decades. He surrenders the Enterprise so quickly, and then submits to Sybok in an instant before doing all the other crap that no one cares about.

Some people say this was the best of all the films in its depiction of the KSM triad. To that I say poppycock. The camping scene was insultingly revolting, and other scenes, like the brig, made you think Kirk and Spock were going to kiss each other with McCoy on deck for sloppy seconds.

Thankfully, Luckinbill actually showed up for work every day, and in the years I have re-watched this film, his performance is the most heartfelt and passionate. His character, ultimately, should never have been created, and Nimoy’s suggestion that he should have been a lost twin brother would have been a wonderful story possibility, sadly, never realized.

A few things that should have been:
* Cestus III, not Numbnuts III. Tie in with Arena, and would have made sense (and could have included a Gorn. Need More Gorn!, pay attention Boborci!)
* more Korrd, Dar, and StJohnSmythe… more influenced not just by Sybok, but by an honest desire to bring change. The use of Thunderdome as the planet of galactic peace was caustic. If it hadn’t been a “Western” tumbleweeds kind of place… but more like Omicron Ceti III, then the irony of Sybok leading them would have been better.
* More Klaa and Vixis. Damn they made good Klingons, and spoke it so beautifully.
* Rock monster, smock monster. Should have had Kirk fighting his own “demons” quite literally… flashbacks of certain TOS moments…. all sorts of things… Q like even. Heck, if the bad guy had been more like a bad Q, that could have helped. We make God in our own image… so an evil Kirk-looking being… that would have “rock”ed better than rock monsters. Literally fighting himself, shades of “The Enemy Within”.
* Spock and McCoy more clearly rejecting Sybok, perhaps after even a few more “pain” sequences: Spock’s birth was fine, but how about his being abused as an Earther on Vulcan, his rejection of the Academy… well fortunately Bob gave us that in ST’09., maybe something regarding Saavik though…. McCoy… how about his breakup with Joanna’s mother or something, the death of a million Dramians because he didn’t act fast enough, etc.
* The Evil One being not at “the center of the galaxy”, but just beyond the barrier. Then the damn barrier in WNMHGB would have made more sense… it was keeping him out. If we found that Sybok had tried to penetrate the barrier a hundred years ago (he’s a much older brother) and thus his ‘amazing power’ was another Mitchell/Dehner-like power…
Star Trek V just needed another six months of development. I still enjoy it for pieces of greatness. McCoy’s sequence with his father is irreplaceable. Korrd and Klaa saving Kirk…. that should have resolved the “Klingon bastards killed my son” crap. ST VI has its problems too. Big time.

Nimoy playing both roles would’ve just been another variation on the old cliche of the ‘evil twin’ (a cliche ST has used too often). As it was, with Luckinbill in the part, we were left with that other cliche; the long forgotten half brother (a staple on TV soap operas).

I’m not sure if ANY ideas could’ve salvaged this really ill-advised movie. More (and better) special effects at the end wouldn’t really address the fact that the story is a cheat; they’re off to find God, and we (as the audience) just KNOW that’s not possible, nor is it going to really happen. So instead, they find an evil banished alien (* yawn *). The film sets the audience up for what we already know (2 hrs in advance of the characters) will just be an anti-climax….

It was probably the worst idea for a ST movie. “Kirk meets God.” They’d have been wiser to stick to the more agnostic universe of previous (and post) ST adventures. Leave theological discussions for church, mosque, temple, what have you…

Jonboc I agree with you 100%