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.