LEONARD NIMOY interview with BIGFANBOY.com

2009 June 26

Link to BIG FAN BOY 

by Mark Walters

Every now and then I get the chance to talk to someone I consider an entertainment legend. When I found out Leonard Nimoy was going to be at the Tulsa TREK EXPO June 26-28, I immediately inquired about whether or not I could talk to him in an interview format. I've met Nimoy before, at the TREK EXPO actually, but it was several years ago, and let's just say I wasn't quite as brave of a journalist as I am today. Thankfully, the show's promoter John Harper (a man I'm proud to call a good friend) arranged for some press time with a few select outlets. I was included, much to my delight. You must realize, as a kid I watched all the original STAR TREK reruns time and time again. I loved Spock. I wanted to BE Captain Kirk, but I was always fascinated with the character of Spock. There was so much to him. Leonard Nimoy brought sincere gravitas to his performance, which has solidified that character in the hearts and minds of sci-fi fans all over the world. This year, Nimoy put on the pointy ears one more time to appear in the new J.J. Abrams reboot STAR TREK, which met with extremely positive criticism from both movie reviewers and fans alike. I was so happy to see Nimoy back on the big screen. Needless to say, the following was a thrill for me. Please enjoy this... I know I did.

Leonard: What do you want to talk about?

Mark: Let's talk about how STAR TREK kicks ass again!

Leonard: Ha! It does, it did, it is.

Mark: It's gotta be really gratifying.

Leonard: It's great. We're experiencing another resurrection. We need one every few years. It's a terrific movie and doing fantastic business... and finding a whole new audience, as well as bringing back the original audience. The franchise is healthy again, and I expect there will be more films. I understand that there's another script being developed right now. I have no idea what it's about or who is going to be in it. I expect Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto and the rest of those good people will be in it. And the same writers are working on it, Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman. J.J. Abrams will produce, and decide later if he wants to direct it, which is his option. I hope he does, because he did a great job on this movie. I was with him the night before last at the Saturn Awards. He's a very busy guy. He's got I don't know how many TV series going and several movies going. He's the new Spielberg. And he's very good at it, so it's exciting, and I feel very good about being back in STAR TREK. It's been I think... I'm guessing about 18 years since I acted in a STAR TREK film... 18 years between the last one and this one.

Mark: You brought up the fact that J.J. is a very busy man. If J.J. for some reason decided he didn't want to direct it, how would you feel about the idea...

Leonard: NO.

Mark: Ha-ha! You don't even want to entertain that.

Leonard: No, I did that, had a good time, I've had enough of that.

Nimoy returned to the role of Spock in STAR TREK (2009)

Mark: Leonard, something that's really important to you is your photography, being an artist. I'm just wondering, where do you draw your inspiration from when it comes to doing photography?

Leonard: Photography is conceptual-based. If I get an idea I go with it. I don't carry cameras with me, I used to, many years ago. When I was developing my craft as a photographer, I carried cameras with me wherever I went, I'd photograph landscapes, people, whatever caught my eye. And gradually I found my way into more conceptual work. I'd get an idea, and then I'd bring out the camera and go to work through the expression of that idea. So far there have been two major projects, one was called Shekhina, which was based on the Jewish mysticism about the feminine aspect of God. The second one is called The Full Body Project, which is about full bodied people... as the title suggests. Now I'm working on a project, tentatively it's called The Identity Project. I have photographed portraits of 95 people, 25 of which will be shown at a museum in Massachusetts next year at the Mass Mocca... at an exhibition there, my first major exhibition at a museum.

Mark: Congratulations.

Leonard: Thank you! It's about the hidden self, the idea that most of us have some personal part of ourselves that we don't usually reveal, that we fantasize about or keep hidden for various reasons. And these portraits represent that aspect of the people I'm photographing. I have video of my conversations with them and I have photographs of them, and there will be an exhibition at Mass Mocca next year at this time.

Mark: Well obviously photography is something you're very passionate about. Looking at all these people that come to these conventions that are collectors, do you yourself have things that you collect that are personal to you?

Leonard: My wife and I collect contemporary art, which includes photography, but the focus is broader than that. Our collection is paintings, sculpture, collage, half photography. we've been doing it for almost 20 years now, and we have a pretty serious collection. We go to various museums and art fairs around the world to look at art and to buy it.

Mark: What's your most prized piece in your collection?

Leonard: Prized piece? That's like asking me which is my favorite kid. (laughter) There isn't a piece I don't love. Every now and then a piece has to go to up to be loaned for an exhibition some place, and I miss it. What we try to do is take a picture of it and put the picture on the wall. (more laughter)

Mark: Looking back over your career in the past few decades, you've been extremely selective about the roles that you take. What was it about FRINGE and the role of William Bell that attracted you and made you say I think I want to come back to television.

Leonard: Well you know... I owe a lot to J.J. Abrams. After we did the first six STAR TREK movies, when the first NEXT GENERATION film came along, I was sent the script and I found that in one scene, I think it was the very opening scene of the movie, it indicated that Spock was present along with the rest of the original series cast. Spock had five lines of dialogue... none of them were "Spock" lines, in the sense that there was no character in any of the dialogue. It was expository dialogue that could be spoken by anybody else in the room, and in fact that's what I said to the producer. "You could just divide these lines amongst other people in the room, and never miss Spock." And that's exactly what they did. I didn't want to be there if I couldn't make a Spock contribution. In that movie, as a result, there was no Spock and Kirk was killed. And I felt... it was was not my position to say anything about it, it was not my movie... I wasn't producing, I wasn't directing... but I felt that they were dispensing with two very valuable characters in the franchise. But they obviously had a cast of their own... good people, Patrick Stewart and the rest, good people. And they felt that they could go their own way, and they did for several films. And I was okay about that. I went about my business doing an occasional piece of work, but mostly photography from that point on. Eighteen or seventeen years later I get a call from J.J. Abrams, who said "We'd like to talk to you." And I went to a meeting where I was deeply moved by the conversation, because Orci and Kurtzman the two writers and J.J. talked about Spock in a way that I hadn't heard for years. They talked about the original intent of STAR TREK, the original philosophy of STAR TREK, and the original value of the Spock character. And I was very touched by that, because I thought they were offering me a homecoming in a way. They were offering me closure which I did not get originally. I did not get a closure on the first films. And I was very touched by that, and I said I would look forward to reading a script. I didn't guarantee that I would do it, they didn't ask for a guarantee on the spot, but they said "We're going write a script, and there will be a lot of Spock in the script. And we'd like to know if you'll at least read it and consider doing it." And I said "Yes I would." I got the script and they sent... a young fella came with the script from the studio, and said "I'm to sit here and wait while you read it."

Mark: No pressure. Yeah.

Leonard: So I read it, I handed it back to him, I got on the phone and called J.J. and said "Let's go to work." Because of that, because I had such a good time, and because the work was valued in a way that I felt appreciated, when he called and asked "I'd like you to do this FRINGE thing"... and he described that character, I said okay. I'm in the hands of the same creative people, the same talented people, and that's exciting for me. So I'm looking forward to doing some more work with them - not a lot! Not a lot. I'm not excited about going away on vacation for weeks and months like I used to do. I love being with my family, my wife. But with creative people it's exciting to be working again

Mark: I'm sure you have been getting this question a lot lately, but is there talk at this point about you possibly coming back for a second STAR TREK film as Spock?

Leonard: There has been no conversation. I have no idea what they plan to do next. I think they're right now really exploring which way the next movie should go. Should it be about some gigantic new adversary, a big heavy of some kind, or conditions of some kind. You know we did both of those in the original STAR TREK series, some were about conditions that were prevalent, some were about a person that was causing trouble. I think they're in the process of exploring that right now, and then they'll decide what it needs... I don't think they need me in a second film. I think they've established these characters very well in this movie.

Mark: What is the most amazing thing to happen to you personally as a result of being involved in STAR TREK?

Leonard: Well, my goal when I left home, I was 18 years old, my goal was to make a living as an actor. I had no expectations to do anything beyond that. I just wanted to be able to support myself and maybe a family as an actor. And you know the story, after STAR TREK went on the air it was a lot more involved that just making a living.

Mark: Well you had become this iconic character that everybody knew and everybody identified with. Spock was sci-fi. It had to be overwhelming at some point, to say "I didn't sign up for this."

Leonard: Well you're right, you're right, it can be overwhelming. My salvation is in focusing on the work with the job I'm doing. I take my work very seriously. I can't take celebrity very seriously, but I take the work very seriously, and let the chips fall where they may.

Mark: Thank you very much!

Leonard: Live long and prosper. (yes, he actually ended with that!)

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