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Dan Madsen Interviews Leonard Nimoy

Dan Madsen Interviews Leonard Nimoy

Dan Madsen, Star Trek Fan club and Communicator founder, recently sat down for a candid interview with Leonard Nimoy.  Dan asks Leonard several insightful questions that have yet to be asked in all the coverage of the new film.  Check out the excerpt below.

DM: Leonard, when you heard for the very first time that there was a new Star Trek film in the works and they wanted you to play Spock again, was there a part of you that said inside, “No, I’m done with that character?”

LN: There certainly was hesitation because I was very comfortable, after so many years away from it, with the idea that I would not play Spock again. I just didn’t think of myself in terms of doing that role again. But I thought at least as a courtesy I should go and listen to what they had to say. I had a wonderful meeting with JJ Abrams and Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman. My sense of them was very different from the experience that I had had in the previous 12 or 15 years relative to Star Trek. I felt, frankly, that I was a sort of an outsider looking in for many years. My conversation with JJ and the others really gave me the sense that they were looking at Star Trek the way I looked at it from the earlier years on the original series and some of the better films that we did. They were very much in touch with my feelings about what made it work and they were particularly in touch with my feelings on what had moved me and excited me about being Spock. So I thought, “This feels different than the experience that I had been having with Star Trek for some time.” It felt very different. I thought this could be worth looking into. They had not had a script at that point, they were just considering writing something but they made it very clear that they intended to write a script that would importantly involve the Spock character. So they needed some sense that I would at least consider it because if I had said flat, “No” they would have to find a whole new direction. I didn’t say flat “no” and I did say, “I think you guys are interested in the things I am interested in. I will look forward to reading the script.” And that’s the way we left it.

DM: Do you feel a sense of completion with the Spock character after this film or is this the beginning of a new era for you and Spock?

LN: Both! I don’t know about me and Spock. It certainly is the beginning of a new era for Spock! It is impossible to predict about me and Spock. I have no idea where they want to go next and I feel very comfortable either way. I feel very gratified that I have been able to have some kind of closure. If this is the closure, then I am very comfortable with it. I was not happy at all with the closure that was imposed on the Spock character some years ago when Spock was just simply abandoned and Kirk was killed all in one fell swoop! I felt both were great losses to Star Trek. There was no reason to kill Kirk and there was a neglect of the Spock character. It seemed intentional. It seemed as if someone was saying, “Well, we have to put a stop to that and start with a whole new era here.” Having had this movie and this experience as Spock and seeing Zachary Quinto in the role now, I feel the character has a potentially wonderful, new life and certainly the success of the movie is just so terrific! It is so wonderful to see this happen and to see Star Trek have a chance of a reinvention and a revival. It was certainly in need of a revival.

DM: Can you describe for me, from your perspective, how Spock has changed over the years, from the first pilot to this latest film?

LN: In a lot of ways I feel closer to Spock personally than I ever have.

The Spock that I played in this movie is closer to me, in my personal life condition, than he has ever been before. It was a “performance” during the series years and during the film years because I was far more human and emotional, in the broadest terms, than the Spock I was playing – now that doesn’t mean that Spock had no emotions; as we all know, Spock had his own inner life. But what I was playing was a very logical, very cool, rational Spock. In this movie, my Spock has come to terms with himself in a very comfortable way. So I see myself up there as Spock now whereas Zachary did a wonderful job bringing us a Spock character before the Spock that I played in the original Star Trek series. And, finally, at the end of this movie, we see him arriving at the Spock that I played during the original series.

DM: I absolutely loved this film, but I have to admit that there was something bittersweet about it for me, as a fan of the original series, in that I realized my cast (the cast I grew up with and loved) was truly going away now and this new, younger cast was having the torch passed onto them. Do you have any sense of that?

LN: Yes, of course I do. But if we cannot accept the future we are in trouble. Ben Cross is playing Spock’s father. Mark Lenard has passed away. Winona Ryder is playing Spock’s mother and Jane Wyatt has passed away. Simon Pegg is playing Scotty and James Doohan is gone. DeForest Kelley is gone. Majel Barrett is gone. We have to be real about this. I am a nostalgic guy – I love thinking about the past. I think about it often. I think about the great times I have had and the difficulties and the exciting moments. But I think it is healthy to live in the “here-and-now” and deal with the reality of the present. I see it, not as a negative thing but as a positive thing. These beloved characters are being given a whole new life. I am very proud of the fact that these characters are worth dealing with again. We have established such wonderful characters that it is worth making a new investment in them and to go and watch them now and see them in a new light. I think that is very exciting!

DM: Don’t you feel that this movie was almost a necessity to keep the Star Trek franchise flame burning bright as it seemed Star Trek had lost some of its luster over the last several years?

LN: I think it was absolutely necessary to keep Star Trek vibrant and moving forward. It was the same way as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan put Star Trek back on the map in 1982, this movie is doing the same thing many years later.

DM: Was the last line you said in the film, “Thrusters on full,” a symbolic passing of the torch?

LN: Dan, I am so delighted you are asking me this question. No one has asked me it before. That line was not in the script. We had shot the scene and were done with it and I said to JJ, “If you give me one more take, I have a thought I would like to inject here and see if you like it.” We shot it again and I said, “Thrusters on full.” It was kind of a blessing and a passing of the torch. It was an absolutely on-the-spot idea I came up with and it was not in the script. Then JJ called me sometime later and said that he was amazed at how it fit into the next scene on the bridge because then they start talking about the thrusters! So there was a connection almost as if it had been designed that way. I wasn’t thinking about the bridge scene, I was simply thinking about saying to these young guys, “go ahead. Take the torch and go!” (source

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