2013 May 23
Showbiz editor Gloria Martin talked to him about the newest incarnation of the franchise
(Thanks to Grace for finding and sharing this!)
and the origins of Mr. Spock’s “Vulcan nerve pinch” and his signature hand blessing “live long and prosper.”He plays one of the most iconic characters in modern pop culture.
Leonard Nimoy has been Star Trek’s half Vulcan-half human “Mr. Spock” since 1966 when the original series launched. He continues the Spock legend in the latest movie “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Gloria Martin: We spoke a few years ago, most about your wondeful photography. And its a pleasure to speak with you again.
Leonard Nimoy: Thank you, thanky, my pleasure, thank you.
Gloria Martin: Now I have to tell you I laughed my head off watching the commercial you did with Zachary for the Audi and going golfing. Hillarious! (laughing)
Leonard Nimoy: It worked so well, we had a good time doing it.
Gloria Martin: No, its great. The two of you are good friends?
Leonard Nimoy: Yes, we are. We see each other whenever it is possible. He's been extremely busy, he's been out with other actors doing appearances all around the world, literally. Or the new 'Star Trek' movie. They went to South America, to Australia, to Russia, to Germany to Japan, they have been all over the place promoting 'Star Trek: Into Darkness' and they have done great job and the response to the movie has been wonderful. We will see Zachray again in the near future, probably we're meeting up in New York some time in a week or two. We are very good freinds and we enjoy each other's company.
Gloria Martin: Terrific! And how do you like the way that JJ Abrams has re-invented and extended the Star Trek movies. Are they to your liking?
Leonard Nimoy: We have been very lucky that he came along and did what he brought to the audience, amde it accessible to a lot of people who never paid much attention to 'Star Trek' before. 'Star Trek' has gone through several reincarnations before and this is the new one and Mr. Abrams has been very responsible in a very positive way for giving it a whole new life. Its really great. I'm very proud of him and proud of the cast. They are great people and they have done a great job.
Gloria Martin:Gene Roddenberry's vision was extraordinary. As I was watching this week a new thing where you could hold yourself up phoning to a bar-code and get all the information you needed, and I was reminded of the tricorder. And how long ago Gene Roddenberry forsaw that!
Leonard Nimoy: Yuh!
Gloria Martin: You had a chance to work with him. What kind of guy was he?
Leonard Nimoy: A quite complex man, Very intelligent, very bright. he had a great imagination. Above all what he wanted to stress with 'Star Trek' was the potential for mankind. When we went on th eair in 1966 there were some very interesting and successful books being written about extra-terrestrials who had visited earth in earlier times and were responsible for some great things that had happened on earth and were unexplained. And Mr. Roddenberry as very upset about that. He took the position that whatever was accomplished on earth was accomplished by humans and that great accomplishments would come in the future and he didn't want to be hearing about these fantasy ideas about aliens that came to earth and created the pyramids or something like that, you know? He said humans are capeble of all of theses things and will do extraordinary things in the future. And I think taht was expressed in 'Star Trek'.
Gloria Martin: And you have lived with Spock for a long time. has he become like a part of your own personality?
Leonard Nimoy: I think that has come true some time ago, certainly when we were doing the television series, because you have to understand I was in that character 12 hours a day, five days a week for three years. So, I probably became much more Spock- like then, I think I am much more relaxed about who I am now. (laughing)
Gloria Martin (laughing): Is it true that you invented the Vulcan Nerve Pinch?
Leonard Nimoy: I did, I did. That was because I didn't believe in Spock would have to do a lot of fist-fighting. I left that to Captain Kirk - let him do this, the kicking and the punching. And I found what I though was a simple and elegant way to deal with an adversary. Come up and put your hand on his neck and he drops like a rock - unconscious. 'Thank you, good bye!' (laughing)
Gloria Martin (laughing): That's good. You have to show me that some day.
Leonard Nimoy: Okay. I had a lot of people ask me: 'Teach me how to do that.' so they could do that to their wives or husbands or kids. Yuh!
Gloria Martin (laughing): And the uniuque hand-salute. What's the genesis of that?
Leonard Nimoy: Well, when I was about eight or nine years old I was in Synagogue with my parents during high holiday services. I saw this gesture being done by the members of the priestly tribe. They were blessing the congregation and I was taken by that. I thiught: 'Well, this is really a magical thing! I wonder what this is all about.' I learned how to do it with my hand. I found out later its from an ancient Hebraic blessing, from the Kabbalah, where the blessing is: May th eLord bless you and keep you, and so forth. Its part of a blessing. Its a symbol of a blessing.
Gloria Martin: Wonderful, isn't it?
Leonard Nimoy: I thought it would be interesting to introduce it to the show. I had no idea that it would become as popular and as wide-spread as it has become. In fact the first time I met President Obama, he did it for me, he gave me the Vulcan blessing.
Gloria Martin: That's great!
Leonard Nimoy: Yeah, he did!
Gloria Martin: What do you think is Spock's best trade or his worst trade?
Leonard Nimoy: The best I would say is his usefulness, his ability to cut to the heart of a problem and be useful. You know, when I was a kid, 'The Lone Ranger' was very popular on radio. And by the way, there's a Lone Ranger movie coming up pretty soon and I'm looking forward to seeing that because when we played Lone Ranger on the streets I didn't want to be the Lone Ranger, I wanted to be Tonto, his faithful friend. Because Tonto for me was a magical character. Tonto was an Indian who had talents that the Lone Ranger did not have. Tonto for example cpuld look at the ground and tell you how many people have passed this way by the foodprints. And he could tell how long ago they have been here and how many of them they were, and whether they were on horseback or on foot. He could put his ear to the railroad-tracks and could tell you when the train was gonna be getting here. That kind of information was useful to the Lone Ranger. And I think that's the same characteristic that Spock provides in the series. He has interesting and important information for him.
Worst trade I think is probably getting in touch with his own emotions. There are emotions in that character and Spock has worked very hard to repress them. And that can be a dangerous thing. Emotions can well up and surprise you if you repress them too long.
Gloria Martin: What's been your greatest source of pride in playing this iconoc character?
Leonard Nimoy: I think its probably the fact, I am touched, when people say Spock was useful to me and my life. I think particularly young people, teenagers, who go through turbulent periods in their lives and they see a character like Spock and they say: I think I try to be more like him, to live in better control of my emotions. Not to be at the mercy of your emotions I think is a very helpful thing, And a lot of young people have had that experience and I think this character is useful, and I feel blessed when I hear that kind of comment.
Gloria Martin: Mr. Nimoy you have told me before taht you are good freind with William Shatner and the animosity between you is a total misbelief, something which is fabricated. Is he jealous that Spock has continued in th enew movies and Krik has not?
Leonard Nimoy: We have not discussed that. Thisquestion you have to ask Bill. I don't see Bill as a jealous person, I don't think its in his nature. We are talking about a guy who is one of your Canadian home-grown talents. He's a great talent, great talent.
Gloria Martin: Yes, and he is so busy.
Leonard Nimoy: That's right, a very, very busy. Once he gets a great job, he's a very, very busy guy.
Gloria Martin: Okay, Mr. Nimoy, thank you so much!
Leonard Nimoy: Its great tto talk to you. live long and prosper!
Gloria Martin: And you, too, Sir, thank you very much!
Leonard Nimoy: Thank you!