EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Leonard Nimoy Talks Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek Into Darkness features a brief but important appearance by one of the franchise’s most legendary characters, portrayed by a man who’s just as iconic (and supposedly retired). Yes, we’re talking about Spock (or Spock Prime), reprised once again by Leonard Nimoy. What’s, ahem, fascinating about Nimoy’s cameo is the fact that it was so successfully kept secret for so long. Sure, there were whispers in the wind, but no one knew for sure that the rumors were true until they actually saw Spock Prime on screen. StarTrek.com chatted with Nimoy a few days after the film opened in the U.S., and he filled us in on how his Star Trek Into Darkness turn came to be, how it was pulled off and – get this – how he’d be willing to beam out of retirement again to work with J.J. Abrams on the next Star… WARS film.
How did you enjoy participating in the festivities at the L.A. premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness?
NIMOY: Oh, it was a lot of fun, a lot of fun. They had a gigantic crowd. They were very enthusiastic. I had a lot of family with me, and we all enjoyed it.
What worked best for you about the film?
NIMOY: It’s hard not to enjoy this movie. There’s so much of a thrill ride happening. The relationships between the characters are terrific. The actors are all wonderful. I’m particularly proud of Zachary Quinto because of my connection to the Spock character. I think Zachary did a wonderful job. But they’re all terrific.
How humbled were you by the cheer that greeted your appearance as Spock Prime?
NIMOY: That was very touching. I appreciated that.
How accepting are you of the alternate timeline and such things as the destruction of Vulcan, the Spock-Uhura romance and, in this film, a Caucasian Khan?
NIMOY: I take it all in stride. I don’t feel that I have any personal investment in that. I am definitely invested in what happens to the future of the Spock character, how it’s played and how it’s portrayed. I think a very good job is being done with that and I’m very proud of that. I’m very happy to be connected with that and Zachary and I are very good friends. I admire him. I think he does wonderful work. As far as the timeline and the storyline are concerned, I do not have a big investment in that.
How did J.J. Abrams approach you about doing your cameo?
NIMOY: He just said, “Would you come in for a couple of days and do me a favor.”
You’d passed on doing a cameo as Spock in Star Trek: Generations. What made you say yes to this?
NIMOY: This cameo in Star Trek Into Darkness was about the Spock character. The cameo in Generations was not about the Spock character. It was just somebody named Spock saying some lines that had nothing to do with Spock. It wasn’t about the character at all. The character was just being used to say some lines that needed to be said about the exposition of the story. I suggested to them that they could take those lines and give them to other members of the cast and no one would know the difference. And that’s exactly what they did. So that indicates to you how clear it was that it wasn’t about Spock. It was about something else. So I just let it go. There was no need for me to be there. This story lent itself to the idea that Spock would contact me to ask for information.
What’s your take on the function of the scene within the movie?
NIMOY: It makes it pretty clear what Kirk, Spock and the rest of them are dealing with. I’m telling them from personal experience exactly what they’re dealing with. Up until that point there’s some ambiguity because the (Khan) character is so clever that one doesn’t know what his real intentions are. So it served that purpose. It makes it very clear that from here on in they know they’re dealing with a maniac.
Was your scene shot at Paramount? At Sony? At Bad Robot?
NIMOY: It was shot at Bad Robot. I drove myself over there, and J.J. directed the scene.
How amazed were you that no photos emerged? That the secret was kept secret for as long as it was?
NIMOY: I was very pleased that it worked out that way. I was asked time and time again if I was in the movie, and I managed to avoid answering without lying. (Laughs)
We believe you flat-out said no, actually.
NIMOY: Did I say “No”? Maybe I was confused. Of course, speaking, if you’ll pardon me, logically, I wouldn’t know if I was in the movie until I saw the movie.
Be honest, do you think you’ve NOW donned Spock’s pointy ears for the last time or are you still a never-say-never kind of guy?
NIMOY: Wow… That’s impossible to answer. I don’t know. I don’t know what J.J. is going to do. I consider him a very good friend. I think he’s done a great thing for Star Trek. I’m very grateful to him. We all owe him a lot. When someone comes along like he has done and picks it up and elevates it, we should be grateful. So when J.J. calls me, I take the call.
You’ll be coming to New York City next month to support Vincent, which will play at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre on June 14 and 15. What excites you about this production?
NIMOY: I’ve seen this actor, Jean-Michel Richaud, give this performance a couple of times on the West Coast. He is really quite wonderful in the role (of Theo Van Gogh). And I will be doing Q&A’s after all three performances.
Last question. If J.J. Abrams rings you and says, “Come be in Star Wars,” what would you say?
NIMOY: Oooh. Ooooh, wouldn’t that be fun. I would love to.
You don’t think the galaxy would implode if Spock played a role in Star Wars?
NIMOY: No, no. I think it would work wonderfully. I think it would work just great. I think it would be a great idea, and somebody ought to tell him that.