Watch: Leonard Nimoy’s BU Convocation Address – Talks About Being ‘Scared’ To Take Role of Spock

As reported last week, Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy returned to his home town to receive an honorary doctorate degree and give the convocation address Boston University’s College of Fine arts. As part of his address, Nimoy talked about how he was initially "scared" to take on the role of Spock. You can watch Nimoy’s full address below.


Leonard Nimoy’s convocation address

Leonard Nimoy imparts lessons of life to the 2012 graduating class of Boston University. The actor/director/artist retold stories from his past, starting with his childhood as the son of immigrants in Boston, and how his life experiences led him on a path to figuring out what he wanted to do with his life.

Nimoy talked specifically about how his early life and career prepared him for the role of Spock in Star Trek, saying…

I was 35 years old and become recognized as an actor that could bring something personal to a role. And then came Mr. Spock in 1966. It took fifteen years and I was ready. I was on my game. Still, I hesitated. I took my work seriously. Did I really want to put on those pointed ears?

A wonderful curator and founder of a new museum in New York, Marsha Tucker, said "do what scares you." Well, it scared me and I did it.

My folks came to the United States as immigrants – aliens – and they became citizens. I was born in Boston a citizen and I went to Hollywood and became an alien. Spock called for exactly the kind of work I was prepared to do. He was a character with a rich and dynamic inner life – half human, half Vulcan. He was the embodiment of the outsider, like the immigrants who surrounded me in my early years. How do you find your way as the alien in a foreign culture. Where does your identity and your dignity come from? And how do you make a contribution?

I am reminded by a quote from John F. Kennedy, as president he said "we must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda, art is a form of truth." Spock was a truth. The character, seemingly so foreign, was welcomed and quickly became enormously popular. Then for the first time in a wonderful script by Theodore Sturgeon ["Amok Time’], I said "live long and prosper" and stuck up my hand in an ancient Hebraic gesture and the deal was done.

Here is the full video.



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Well done Leonard Nimoy!
I really hope that he is in the next movie.

Love this guy! LLAP!

Honorary doctorate? Cool! This means now he finally *is* “Doctor” Spock. ;) We just made a bunch of ijits correct when they say that.

The first Dr. Spock wrote a book on how to raise a child. Mr. Nimoy ..aka ..Dr. Spock please write a book on how humans should behave logicaly. Maybe that book will provide help for the majority of humans who have no idea what logical thinking is all about.

Not many artists have galvanized their legacy to such an iconic association as Leonard Nimoy has done. Not diminishing Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of Spock (quite awesome by the way), but no matter how many actors interpret the role of Spock, in my mind, Leonard Nimoy will ALWAYS BE Spock.

er hello?! no ones bothered that hes clearly had his eyebrows half shaved Spock style…?


also the hair – cut Spock style (no need for wig this time?)

also – are the side burns ever so slightly pointed?

gave up the booze 23 years ago? 1989. Trek V mustve been a sobering experience…id have thought the opposite wouldve been the case! (j/k, drinking is bad)

Harrison Ford is doin a conmence. today…btw…new Blade Runner sequal

y’know…as a kid i remember seeing a recent photo of Nimoy in a tv guide interview between ST movies (around 1985 or thereabout) and being amazed at the fact hed had his eyebrows half shaved – before i even read the interview or article i knew what it meant – there was another Trek movie on the way! (remember there was no way of knowing what was going on really – unless you bought specialist magazines which i didnt)

as good as 30 years later and its still happening!!


man i hope they get Shatner in it too somehow!

his description of the artist needing to walk “the razors edge” was terrific and so true. class act.

llap leonard

one thing about Mission Impossible. was anyone else half expecting a Paris cameo of some sort in Ghost Protocol? my hopes were raised somewhat by Nimoys ‘apperence’ in TF3 (after having been in the original animated movie) and MI being Paramount like Trek, but alas – no show

i know the movie MI universe probably isnt the same as the tv universe (AJolies pop as murderous Jim Phelps for one thing…LOL – be like if theyd made a reboot start trek movie with Kirk as the villain!…would it have killed them so show some respect and gotten Peter Graves as Phelps in an extended cameo and had the villain be some other dude?) but still itd have been a fun thing.

maybe if theres an MI5…(id think so what with 4 being the biggest so far)

good speech

@13 very inspirational.

maybe if theyd made that Starfleet Academy movie in 91 there wouldve been a similar speech thing of Spock addressing the recruits at the start of the film (or was it supposed to be with Kirk?)

this thread needs more posts!

Just great!

Congratulations Mr Nimoy

Amen to the end of reality TV shows.

Leonard Nimoy. A true class act!

I think that Leonard Nimoy did “what scares you” when he took the Spock role. But then he had to do the same when dealing with the legacy of Spock entity he had created. He couldn’t have expected that. Few actors have ever had to deal with that. I am glad that through the years he has had time to analyze and consider Spock’s effect and affect on people — and on himself. Fortunately, in the 47 years since Spock’s creation, it’s turned out to be a good thing, and Nimoy has found it to be a blessing.

I enjoyed Nimoy’s speech and all the life lessons he imparted within. Find your craft, hone it, nurture it, and great satisfaction will result.

*two thumbs up*

I’m going to see him tomorrow at Symphony Space. I can’t wait.
I caught Quinto at the Signature Theater last year,
Shatner at the Music Box Theater this winter,
and now I’m debating whether I should see Jim Parsons at the Roundabout Theater in “Harvey.”
It’s a pain in the butt to live here, but I just love New York.
Gee, who needs a Star Trek Convention or Comic Con?

Persistence. Great advice and given by a truly inspiring individual.

Leonard Nimoy has always been and ever shall be an inspiration to me. I absolutely adore him, and remember his kindness to me when we literally bumped into each other at an airport in the mid-80s. He is a warm, wonderful man.

Class. Class. Class. Probably the greatest of the Trek actors.

Congrats Dr. Nimoy! I’m glad you made the choices that led you to being in California and on your game to being ready and able to portraying Mr. Spock so well and capably. It does sound like it was a growing, fulfilling experience for you and one that may well have spring-boarded your career in popularity and bookings for all the years that followed.

This Star Trek character has always been my favorite of the old shows, as I’m sure echoes sentiments of many who’ve shared their stories before. What’s more enlightening and personal is to follow what it’s meant to your career and personal life, and professional career, afterward. Thank you for sharing this in books, interviews, and appearances like this over the decades.

you are the man mr. nimoy great speech didnt expect anything less

What a wonderful speech!! Mr. Nimoy is a great great person!