Interview: Ethan Peck Talks About Spock’s Genesis And Inner Conflict on ‘Star Trek: Discovery’

Ethan Peck at the Star Trek: Discovery season 2 red carpet premiere

Star Trek: Discovery stars walked the red carpet Thursday evening in New York to celebrate the premiere of season two. We’ll keep bringing you interviewers from the event throughout the week.

We grabbed a few minutes with Ethan Peck, who is playing Spock–an iconic character if ever there was one. His fellow castmates have been raving about his performance, so we spoke to him about how he prepared for the role and the nuances of the character at this particular point in his history.

You were a Star Trek fan before you got this job – is that correct?

Peck: Pretty much. I’m a huge science fiction fan. I’m not too familiar with the Star Trek universe, but I love the movies, and I’ve definitely seen a lot of TNG when I was a kid.

So were there things that you watched to prepare for playing Spock?

Peck: Yeah. The Original Series. Because my Spock – that sounds crazy – is a part of Nimoy’s timeline, so I watched TOS, I read his autobiographies, I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock. And so yeah there was a lot of preparation. Also understanding why I’d been chosen for the role. Because in the beginning I didn’t know what I was reading for. And so it was like, ‘Why was I chosen for this?’ And a month into the process I figured out who it was and was just totally blown away.

Leonard Nimoy books - I Am Not Spock, I Am Spock

Required reading

Were there any specific episodes or movies that you connected with?

Peck: Yeah. I was really drawn to “The Menagerie.” I felt that really captured Spock quintessentially. Very empathetic, very human, driven by logic. So like, logic and supreme strategy informed by emotional information.

Spock in "The Menagerie"

Peck was particularly inspired by Spock in “The Menagerie”

And then what do you do as an actor to prepare for playing a Vulcan character?

Peck: Well there’s a voice. There’s sort of a breadth of emotion that you can … you don’t have the whole palette. You have slivers of color. Right? He feels great emotion but it’s very suppressed and contained. So it was kind of understanding what that is and how that manifests itself physically.

Ethan Peck as Spock in Star Trek: Discovery

Ethan Peck sees the “slivers of color” in Spock in Star Trek: Discovery

Did you watch the movies as well to get a sense of his growth as a person?

Peck: No, not all of them. Because this takes place ten years before The Original Series, so I didn’t want to be too – I was very specific about what I took in. from what I watched Nimoy do. Also I didn’t want to mimic him, ’cause he’s inimitable. And that wasn’t my goal, my goal was to capture the essence and sort of the soul of who he becomes.

What’s the biggest difference, you think, between your Spock and his?

Peck: Uh, the beard. (laughs)

He had a beard sometimes!

Peck: Yeah, I guess he did, that’s true. It’s sort of his genesis, he’s not quite come together. The conflict between emotion and logic hasn’t been resolved. And so there’s still a bit of warring going on within him.

Mirror Spock

Spock with a beard in “Mirror, Mirror”

More from the season 2 premiere

There is more to come from our red carpet coverage of the season 2 premiere in NYC.

Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else. The second season debuted on All Access and Space on Thursday, January 17th, 2019, and on Netflix January 18, 2019.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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Nimoy framed it, refined it and nailed it, less is more when it comes to playing Spock.

Anyone else is a cheap facsimile.

Nimoy will always be thought of as Spock, but Peck is a good substitute considering Nimoy isn’t able to play the role any more.


Nimoy is my all time favorite actor, and Spock my favorite character, in Trek. But even I would never make such hard and fast declarations.

Mads Mikkelson surprised everyone with his portrayal of Hannibal Lector, after the role had been defined by Anthony Hopkins. Robert DeNiro shined as Vito Corleone, Roger Moore is many people’s favorite Bond– while I love Craig’s– and while Jack Nicholson’s Joker often still tops many fans list of greatest movie villains, Heath Ledger’s put his own unique spin on the role that redefined the character and became legendary in his own right.

Don’t be so closed minded.

Lolololol, so the bloke who created and refined the character, played it across multiple iterations of Trek, who argued with Roddenberry and the studio over how the role should be played could be bettered by millennial Spock?

Jog on son.

The fact that you think I said that says a lot more about you than me.

Mate, you don’t know what you’re saying.

You prove my point, sir.

What point? You haven’t made a point. Sorry to ‘point’ that out, Dufus.

This poster is now moving on to personal attacks and name-calling. How much longer before there’s some kind of warning here, folks, huh?

You are attacking me.

Nope. Go back and look. I originally responded to your post in good faith, assuming there was a worthwhile discussion to have. When it became apparent that you were just trolling, I highlighted as much and wished you peace, since I’m not going any further down that road. This third, and final, comment above was simply my defending a fellow poster (who has earned good will with me) from your attacks. That is all.

I’m not trolling. You can disagree with me by all means but don’t revert to the trolling crap just because you don’t agree. Pathetic. Argue the point, not the man.

Except I personally *did* agree with much of your original point below, as I already highlighted. But you responded by ignoring the substance of my post and focused instead on my use of the “fruit” analogy (for some weird reason).

People who post material that some would consider a little unnecessarily incendiary (calling all non-Nimoy Spocks “cheap facsimiles”), and then who snap at anyone and everyone who responds to their posts with increasingly hostile words, up to an including personal attacks (“Dufus”), is one definition of a troll.

If you want a dialogue, than don’t be so defensive if people disagree. Those of us who’ve been around here long enough know there’s plenty of ways to respectfully disagree on points without, frankly, being a jerk about it. That’s why I come here still to talk Trek. It’s, for the most part, a friendly and more importantly, respectful, space.

But I don’t feel you came here for a conversation. You came for a fight. If you don’t want to be called a “troll,” then don’t act like one.

Who made you the moral arbiter here? I have an iPhone and my wife has a Huawei. The later is similar to the former, says it does all the same things, and for half the price.

Guess what? It doesn’t.

Yeah, I have no idea what you’re referring to at this point, but I hope you and your wife have made peace with the phone situation.

Beyond that, I don’t claim to be a moral authority (here or elsewhere!) but I do care about TrekMovie as a place where people can discuss all things Trek (I’ve been here since the days of ST09 rumors way back when, though I don’t claim to remember when I made my first post. I think I changed emails at one point, too), so that’s my investment here.

And, I’d still like to think that maybe some people who act like trolls don’t think they are trolls because they don’t really appreciate the impression they are making. But that’s me.

I’m done with this conversation.

You are right. You’re done, in that you added nothing before flouncing off and exploding.

‘Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on show ’em what your worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y’

The fact you think anybody was surprised Mads could bring the goods for Hannibal makes the rest of your post suspect — though for me, evoking the horror of Moore/Bond and naming Craig, the dwarfish wannabe-Dalton who looks to have lost an acid fight, as your fave, is enough by itself for me to write off the rest of your post.

Respectfully, you are comparing apples with oranges. No one is disputing Nimoy’s accomplishments. But compare “Cage” Spock with TNG Spock and maybe you’ll appreciate how unfair the comparison of Peck at the start of a character’s development vs. Nimoy at the maturation of one is.

Film series Spock and TNG Spock are my favorite versions of him. TOS Spock is good, but not fully formed, and he gets much stronger as the films progress. TUC and Unification Spock, i’ll take that over any other episodes/film. It’s a real shame we didn’t get to see him more during that era (and i mean the real world, late 80s/early 90s when Nimoy was at his best in the role, and the character was at his best written).

I’d have loved a miniseries in 1993 or so, all about Spock on Romulus, or Spock in command of the Enterprise prior to TUC.

Yes, now that you mention it, TUC Spock probably is my personal favorite version of the character (and it would’ve been even better if Meyer had been able to include Saavik instead of Valerius as his foil), and one big reason (among many) that it’s my second favorite Trek movie. Definitely Spock forced to confront the whole history of his identity there.

No, I’m comparing Spock with Spock. No one except you mentioned fruit.

Whatever. The point I made was a valid one, and certainly far more worthwhile than any of the invective you’ve brought to the discussion. You are being deliberately disingenuous, and unnecessarily hostile to boot. You’re going to find this to be a very lonely website very quickly when you choose to go down that path. Peace.

Leave Lee alone, he’s busy pleasuring my 85 year old mom, who hasn’t gotten any in over a decade since my dad passed away. She needs this!

I agree with the first part. I’m not sure lowering to his level is helpful either, though.

At this point i’m just having fun with it. Not much more you can do with someone like that. Sad it had to happen on an article where there’s some actual interesting discussion to be had.

Be interesting then.

I wish she’d take her teeth out.

No, I’m comparing Spock with Spock. You mentioned fruit, although it’s not clear why.

Warning to both Afterburn and Lee. Be adults and follow commenting decorum or you’re out. Time to move on from this topic.

Pacino made Scarface his own role and it was as far removed from the original movie as 2019 is from 1966. People said there’d never be a Joker better than Caesar Romero. Then Nicholson came and peole said he was the best Joker ever. Then Ledger came along.

People act like “Nimoy” and “Spock” are inseparable, but “Spock” is a role that can be filled by many talented actors and that can be defined in different ways. Look at Battlestar Galactica, where the completely re-interpreted some of the characters.

So, I’m interested in this version of Spock and I hope that we get to see many of the other TOS cast members here. Who knows, in 50 years people might say: “How can there be a new actor playing Spock when Ethan Peck has defined that role.”

He might turn out greater than Nimoy.
Don’t slam it before you’ve even seen it.

I’m confident he won’t.

You can be as confident as you want, but the issue is deciding, before you’ve seen it, that he’ll only be a “cheap fascimile.” He doesn’t have to be better to turn in a good performance.

I still prefer Hopkins, Nicholson, and Brando, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love the other versions of those characters for what they bring to those characters.

Millennial Spock, yay!!

You are wittering about mostly one off movies, not episodic TV and subsequent movies where characters have been refined by the actors concerned.

Quinto’s Spock is a case in point, it’s Spock lite, nothing more. Same as Pine is Kirk lite.

Nimoy had acting chops that the other Spock’s could only dream of. Feel free to tell me how Quinto’s performance of Spock was better or more well rounded than Nimoy’s.

We’re not talking about Quinto. Peck won’t be the same as Nimoh or Quinto, and Nimoy will probably always be my favorite Spock, but that doesn’t mean that Peck won’t do a good job in the role. Besides, Nimoy isn’t really available anymore.

Perhaps Nimoy will come back. It’s not like he hasn’t before.

Now your trollery is becoming tasteless.

Is your name supposed to Navalgazer?

Because I watch you on your ship of fools?

That’s leftfield. Carrie Fisher was brought back as was Peter Cushing.

Don’t judge others by your own vile standards.

We have the technology, we can rebuild him, etc.

@ Lee: You are aware that Nimoy is dead, aren’t you? He’s not coming back.

That hasn’t stopped various digital necro jobs from happening, and they’re going to be happening more and more often, given the tech and how slippery the rights to likeness issues have become. Unless viewers categorically reject those approaches like they did colorization, there’s no incentive for producers to give up trying it.

@ kmart: Sure, they could do a CGI Spock who looks like Nimoy. But it wouldn’t be Nimoy returning to the role.

Carrie Fisher was in Rogue One.

@ Lee:Carrie Fisher was not in Rogue One. A different actress played out the scene, and then her face was replaced digitally. In other words: Another actress played Leia. Just like Peck is going to play Spock. And with Peck we will get an actual performance instead of something a computer graphics artist put together

Looked like Carrie Fisher, who framed the role of Leia ergo that’s my point.

He’s dead, Jim.

Sweet baby Jesus

Someone please ban this fool.

Ban yourself. You’ve stopped commenting on the topic and now you’re commenting on me. That’s victimisation. I bet you hate Mexicans and want to build a wall. That’s what is happening here, I’m the Mexican and you’re the wall.


Pine is a far better actor than Shatner, so calling him “Kirk Lite” is rather absurd. Shatner was entertaining as hell, but he was not a good actor.

I’d be astonished to find ANY reference to Romero claiming there’d never be a better Joker. Any ‘actor’ so hung up on his self-image that he insists his stache be covered with makeup rather than shaving it is too ego or persona minded to ever be taken seriously — not that you can take much of anything from the 66 series seriously, outside of Julie Newmar’s lush proportions.

There WAS a very vocal segment of the fandom, particularly in the early 80s– when fans who grew up on the show were then in their mid-thirties– who viewed Romero, Kitt, and Gorshin specifically, as definitive actors in their roles.

But no one else had played these characters to that point, had they?

Nimoy made it clear during the casting of the first reboot movie that he didn’t want Spock to die with him. Knowing that he originated a role that was so iconic and so wonderful that it would live on after him is part of what gave him peace in the last years of his life.

If we love both Spock and Nimoy, then we should want what Leonard wanted — for Spock to live on after Leonard.

So, welcome, Mr. Peck! I’m glad you’ve done your homework, and I hope you can inspire a new generation in the way that Mr. Nimoy inspired mine.

Fair points.

I think the key word there (and I agree with some of what you say) is that Nimoy “refined” it. His Spock wasn’t “Spock” right out of the gate. If Peck had decades with the part, he’d probably be nearly as iconic, imo. Point is, it’s near impossible to compare.


That’s incredible that he’d been in the casting process for a month before realizing he was auditioning for Spock!

(Edited to add:) Hmm, clean-shaven now, eh? Since Discovery is still (I think) in production, that almost certainly means we will see a clean-shaven, bowl-haircuted Spock before season’s end.

Discovery finished filming on December 21.

However, I do think it’s all but guaranteed that we’ll see Spock shave and resume his post at the end of the season.

Why? Most of the cast in season 1 didn’t realise they were in Star Trek show either.

Troll harder

Millennial butt hurt? The old ‘I don’t agree therefore you must be a troll’ approach.

Bore off.

Why are all of you’re comments insulting millenials? I mean, its not really that offensive. Its just weird.

Do the math, son. Do the math.

Is that the math indicating you’re old, bitter, and hopeless? Or is that some other kind of math? It’s hard to tell.

Ignore him. At first I thought he was trying to have a discussion, it’s clear he’s just being an a$s. His wife must have just walked out on him or something, he’s clearly going through a personal crisis.

Probably deserves our sympathy more than anything.

I hope things improve for you, Lee, whatever you’re going through.

That’s the weirdest summation of my life that anyone has ever attempted.

I’ll ask your Mum what she thinks once her mouth is empty.

That’s worthy of Michael Kelso, but unfortunately this isn’t a sitcom, so you are going to fry for that one.

I was somewhat on your side on this (hard to tell, since hours after making my first and longest post, it STILL hasn’t shown up, though others did), but you really shouldn’t go there with the mother line, even if Afterburn is being his/her usual jerk self.

Counting down to thread-lock …

My remark above about his personal crisis was not sarcasm. From my experience, when adults behave in this manner it is usually because they are going through something difficult in their personal life and they lash out in online forums where they can hide behind anonymity.

I was responding to lee if that wasn’t immediately clear.

People think you’re a jerk though? Wanna talk about it?

I’m not lashing out, I’m simply making my point robustly. There’s a huge difference. In my experience, people who behave like you are narcissistic and sociopathic, they can’t accept dissenting or opposing views and believe they have some god given right to have the last word. They were almost invariably weaned off Mummy’s milk about a year too early – that’s science.

The mother comment was uncalled for, she’s not my type. I apologise unreservedly.

On a purely aesthetic level, I still don’t think Peck looks like Nimoy at all. In that regard alone, it’s going to be hard to match what we saw with Zach Quinto in ST 2009, whose natural resemblance was matched by a first-rate makeup job. Even the child Spock in that Abrams’ flick looks far more the part than the young portrayal we saw last week.

That said, Peck’s voice is better suited. I wonder whether he will be able to match Nimoy’s restrained and nuanced performances better than Quinto’s “emo Spock” interpretation.

Almost makes me wish we could have some odd mash-up of the two. But we’ll just have to wait and see if we’re pleasantly surprised.

Except that Quinto looked even less like Nimoy, with his cherubic facial structure.

‘Cherubic facial structure’

Bahahahahaha bahahahahaha bahahahahaha

I enjoy Quntio a LOT… but he doesn’t resemble Nimoy much at all, either in looks or in voice. Peck is a far better choice for the role.

Same. I enjoy him for what he is– a different interpretation. He does a good job, I appreciate that he is not trying to ape Nimoy. I can’t judge or even compate Peck just yet, though i’ll agree that Peck seems to be a better choice based on physical/performance from his prior work.

We’ll have to agree to disagree. Everyone in my party verbally noted Quinto’s similarities (my wife whispered it when he appeared on screen) when we saw ST ’09. It also helped that the make-up job was pretty damn close as well, minus some picky particulars about the ear shape and the eye shadow used in TOS.
comment image

I see the same general facial shape, dominant nose, distances between lips-nose-eyes and general spatial relationships.

I don’t see any of that with Peck. His face is rounder, his jaw looks less squared and his nose looks tiny in comparison. I think the Vulcan make-up in this new interpretation makes them look more elven than ever.

I’m not making any statement about Peck’s ability to interpret this character and serve the overall story. I’m just talking about superficialities and realize my opinion has no validity beyond my cranium.

I don’t see much of a resemblance. What I see is a similar uniform and haircut. I’m seeing a VERY different facial structure, he’s got a rounder cleft nose and (narrower) chin.

I really feel kind of dirty commenting on appearance, he’s obviously a good looking fellow, and he did a good job as Spock, I just don’t see a resemblance to Nimoy.

Agreed. Quinto never felt like any direct relation to Nimoy to me either. He basically felt the same way Tom Hardy’s Shinzon was suppose to be a replica of Picard. There is a SLIGHT resemblance for sure but little else and could be two completely different characters. I felt the same way about Quinto and Nimoy although I did like Quinto as Spock.

But to be fair here, there is always this discussion about Quinto and Nimoy and they don’t look alike but you can say that about everyone in that cast. No one ever brings up Zoe Saldana and Nichelle Nichols look absolutely nothing alike other then both being black women. George Takei and John Cho don’t share anything in common other then being Asian. Pine have a completely different eye color from Shatner. Most of the actors share some resemblance of some kind but none are an exact match either. But its never pointed out with anyone else EXCEPT Qunito and Nimoy for some reason which is a bit odd lol.

Seems like the guy at least did his homework. We’ll have to see how it works out, but hats off to him for at least getting as prepped as he could…

Good luck, Ethan, as you play this iconic role. Maybe someday you’ll write a book entitled, “I am not Nimoy.” 🙂

And then a sequel, “I Am Nimoy.”

I just wish Mr Leonard Nimoy was still with us and could have seen Mr Peck in his iconic role. I am sure he would have been very pleased by it. He could have given him the same thumbs up that he did for Quinto.

When it comes to the Spock character it’s the voice I relate to the most. “Indeed,” I find his resonant vocal range “Fascinating.”
Peck did a proper job having only a few short weeks to research a role he was only slightly familiar with. Given time and practice I can hear and see the potential in this actor’s chops.

Needs 25% more cheekbones.

To me, physically, it was Nimoy’s slender, long nose that was his distinguishable characteristic, and Peck has a not-so-dissimilar look that Quinto lacked. A longer face with sharper features. Rare you can find an actor who looks just like someone else (and can also deliver a similar performance) but he’s hopefully got the “spirit” of Spock because physically he’s got the “spirit” of Nimoy.

“I Am Not Spock” is a good book. Hopefully Peck took some of its lessons into his process.

It’s a better book than the followup, that’s for sure. But then again, Nimoy hadn’t begun the caving-for-cash process that marked his career from TWOK onward. There are many things I admire about Nimoy, especially political stances earlier in his career, but when you realize he always came back to trek when more money was offered, even when he didn’t buy into the material, it says a bit about his character as well. And his endorsement of the Cushman atrocities showed that as keen as his insights often were, that he was definitely capable of being snowed — or that his own recollections had become so suspect that he was buying into revisionist print-the-legend malarkey.

I hate to admit it, but you’re right about him. I’m a great fan of Nimoy as an actor, to be sure… but I interviewed him three times at different points during his career, and each time he was basically a jerk: rude, dismissive and cold, not only toward me but toward the franchise and fandom. Shatner, meanwhile, I expected to be a dick, given his reputation among his cast-mates, but both times that I interviewed him, the exact opposite was true–he was hilarious, friendly and eminently entertaining to interview, and I warned up to him immediately. Sometimes, people in Hollywood are very different than how we expect them to be.

Can you blame Nimoy? He was worked over by Roddenberry and the studio time and time again over from the Desilu days onwards. Roddenberry resented his success as Spock as TOS gained a following, giving him grief over office space, a phone line and administrative support. Him and Shatner had a favoured nation agreement that meant what one got, so did the other such was their distrust of how they were treated. It’s why Star Trek V was directed by Shatner.

They used his image without permission for a booze commercial in the 70’s then refused to recompense him for that, he was called a holdout prior to TMP, Roddenberry shafted him for a few roles in the 70’s etc etc and he held out for financial compensation got the image rights issue before signing on for TMP. In ‘I Am Spock’ he says that if TWOK was to be the last roll of the dice, he was going to make sure he got the maximum from it hence his contract had play or pay caveats in it for a few other projects. He also said that he was financially comfortable enough to be able to say what he wanted to do, or not do. He was a busy jobbing actor after TOS was cancelled. This is the premise of ‘I Am Not Spock’ and then ‘I Am Spock.’

Very excited to see him grow into TOS Spock. After his casting I did some looking into his previous roles, and he has a certain gravitas that Quinto always seemed to lack. He has potential to be a strong Spock, with some good writing.

Admittedly though, I’m not thrilled about seeing a “lost and confused” Spock as seems to be the case from previews. Not how I would have started out the portrayal. But i’m keeping an open mind, and willing to have patience. Maybe that opening will have a good pay-off later on.

Also, how many innterstellar wars has the Enterprise lineage now missed? A flagship that’s anything but.

Doesn’t a flagship have to have an Admiral on board? That’s what the “flag” part means, a flag officer. The Enterprise rarely does.

Rather than being a ‘prequel’, I guess I’m fortunate that due to my looking on the DISCOVERY show as being set in a totally ‘alternate universe’ to the classic TOS show and it’s characters, that I’ve no real expectations about how Peck’s version of ‘Spock’ plays out…or any other ‘familiar’ characters in DISCOVERY if it comes to that.

And from some of the comments I’ve read recently, the visual disconnect between DISCOVERY and TOS seems to be even more pronounced now in certain aspects, so I’m content to have ‘compartmentalised’ the original TOS show into it’s own separate ‘Prime Universe’ for myself to stop being distracted by the many inconsistencies between them…no matter how big or sweary the current maker’s wish to make them.

At the risk of sounding even more blasphemous, while it’s true that TOS has a lot of ‘dated’ elements which no longer seem to reflect our own actual ‘future’ technology now, I simply like to get around that nowadays by looking on the show (and indeed every other entry in the franchise) as merely being set in various ‘alternate universes’ to our own one anyway. In other words, I now look on the TOS show as effectively being set a long time ago in a doppelganger universe far, far, away (with some similarities)…rather than showing a possible human ‘future’ in our own Earth’s universe. And the same applies to THE NEXT GENERATION and DISCOVERY, and to whatever show/movie comes next in the franchise. So whether it’s ‘switch-buttons’ or ‘holographic displays’, it’s just the way that particular ‘universe’ has developed.

Personally, I would prefer a return to individual, self-contained story episodes in a ‘STAR TREK’ show, but having said that, I will still be fascinated to see this latest portrayal of the ‘Spock’ character, as well as seeing how this ‘Pine’ progresses too…even though they’re definitely *not* the ‘Prime Universe’ versions in my own scenario.

On the other hand, they may end up being the ‘definitive’ versions of the characters for other fans of the franchise in future, who knows?

But whatever scenario anyone prefers, I certainly wish Peck the best of luck, as he’s got some big ears to fill in the role.

“Yeah. I was really drawn to “The Menagerie.” I felt that really captured Spock quintessentially. ” Okay not looking for conspiracy theories with this guy but what are the chances his favourite Spock story is the one where Pike reappears? So Peck was told to watch episodes by the production team? Didn’t he investigate episodes himself? I mean there are best Spock episode lists on the old Internet. Something sounds off here.