Leonard Nimoy Talks Tees, Trek And More, Part 2
Yesterday, in part one of our exclusive two-part interview with Leonard Nimoy, the Star Trek legend talked about his new line of tee-shirts, available in the StarTrek.com Store and on the site for his granddaughter’s company, Shop LLAP. He also discussed his newfound appreciation and semi-mastery of the Internet, his latest appearances on Fringe and the digital release of the Alien Voices recordings he produced with John de Lancie. Today, in the second half of our conversation, Nimoy – who was in great spirits, laughing easily and full of anecdotes -- chats about his memories of the space shuttle Enterprise, upcoming projects (including a speaking engagement at the celebration of Walter Koenig’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame), and his recent visit to the set of the Star Trek sequel.
You were in New York late last month for the arrival of the Enterprise following its final voyage. You were on hand as well for the rollout of the Enterprise back in 1976. How full-circle was it for you to bookend the history of the Enterprise?
Nimoy: It was really quite an emotional experience for me. I remember that day very, very well, when it rolled out. I was flying my own plane at the time, and I got permission to land it on their runway (in Palm Beach, California). I flew it out from the Santa Monica Airport and landed. They told me where to park. I got out of my plane and walked over to the guest area, and there we were (most of the TOS cast), all gathered. A few minutes later, those hangar doors opened up and out rolled the Enterprise. The Air Force band was playing the theme from Star Trek. It was very touching, very exciting.
I was invited out again and was there the first time the first shuttle came back from outer space and landed. To be out there and hear that double sonic boom – boom! boom! – overhead... it was awesome. People were saying, “There it is! There it is!” You could see it coming down and landing. It’s awesome, just awesome, what scientists and engineers have accomplished. We tend to take these things for granted, but we shouldn’t. They are amazing accomplishments.
To be there again to say goodbye to it was great. I will visit the Enterprise again. I don’t know if I’ll be there the day it actually gets installed. I’d love to be there when it gets installed on the Intrepid, but I will certainly visit again on the Intrepid after it’s been put in place. I understand that it will be in an enclosed environment, so it will be viewable all year round. I think it’s a great thing.
It’s been announced that you will be a guest speaker this fall when Walter Koenig receives his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Would you agree it’s about time that Walter finally got that Star?
Nimoy: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I’m planning on being there. He certainly deserves it. Let me tell you something, if people were to ask me, “What are you thinking now about the original Star Trek series?,” one of the things that comes to mind immediately is the people who have not had enough recognition, and I include Walter and Nichelle (Nichols) and George (Takei) in that, as well as DeForest Kelley, Jimmy Doohan and Gene Coon, who gave us some wonderful writing and worked very hard as a producer. Harve Bennett doesn’t get enough credit for having put Star Trek back on its feet when it was beached after the first Star Trek movie. Nicholas Meyer did a terrific job of shaping up the script for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. When I first read it, it was not very good, and I told him so. He said, “I agree with you. I’m working on it.” Sure enough, he did a great job shaping up that script and then helped us a lot on Star Trek IV. Nick and Harve elevated the audience and spread the audience.
So those are some of the things that come to mind when I think about Star Trek. Matt Jefferies, who did the sets for the original series, is another one. Out of cardboard and plaster, he gave us usable sets every week. Sure, they shook every once in a while, but to be able to turn that stuff out week after week the way he did, it was an incredible job. The directors – Marc Daniels, Joe Pevney, Ralph Senensky – were wonderful people who worked very, very hard under tough conditions. We shot fast, never more than six days and, occasionally, we shot faster than that. Most TV series, they take 9, 10, 11 days. These are people you don’t hear about very often, and I think they deserve credit.
One major side effect of J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek film was that it brought a lot of young people into the fold and many of them went on to seek out The Original Series. What did that mean to you?
Nimoy: I am getting email and fan mail now from young people who, as you say, are watching The Original Series for the first time. J.J.’s film has opened up the territory and made people conscious of it all over again. I guess we’re into a third generation by now of viewers. It’s extraordinary. I don’t see Star Trek fading. That it just keeps reviving itself is wonderful.
Speaking of J.J. Abrams, how did you enjoy your visit to the set of the sequel?
Nimoy: I visited the set one day and that started some speculation about whether I was doing the film. It’s all speculation. I talk to these people regularly. Zachary Quinto and I have dinner whenever we can. We just had dinner three or four weeks ago. I talk to J.J. about family. His parents and I go back a number of years as friends. I knew them long before I ever met J.J. So we talk regularly. I visited the set one day because I had never seen the bridge. When I was in the last film, none of my work was on the bridge of the Enterprise. So I wanted to see the bridge, and the bridge was extraordinary. It’s beautifully designed and put together. We talk. It’s great. I expect that it’s going to be a gigantic film. Look, I think he’s put together a wonderful cast of people. His writers are imaginative and energetic. I think we’re going to see another great Star Trek movie.
You seem so busy. Do you really, truly consider yourself retired?
Nimoy: Yeah, I do. I am. Look, I liken myself to a steamship that’s been going full-blast and the captain pulls that handle back and then says, “Full stop,” but the ship doesn’t stop. It keeps moving from inertia. It keeps moving. It keeps moving. It’ll start slowing down, but it doesn’t stop. It doesn’t come to a dead stop. That’s the way I am. I still have a few odds and ends things that I enjoy doing. I don’t want to get up in the morning and have nothing to do that day. That would be boring.