Leonard Nimoy passed the baton to Zachary Quinto, signing off on the young actor to portray Spock in Star Trek (2009) and beyond. That could have been it, one man assuming an iconic role from the man who made it iconic. But so much more happened. Nimoy and Quinto became dear friends who spent many hours in each other's company, on screen and off, over the ensuing years, to the point that Quinto came to think of Nimoy as a father figure. Quinto made exactly that point in a touching essay that he wrote for Time Magazine on March 2, less than a week after Nimoy's death at age 83. Today, in honor of Father's Day, we're pleased to share that essay...
While I wasn’t a Star Trek fan growing up (my childhood places me squarely in the Star Wars generation), I had always felt an inexplicable connection to Leonard. Of course, I was aware of — and fascinated by — his work as Spock, and also his series In Search Of…, which I watched as a curious youngster. I don’t know whether it was a kind of prescience or some cosmic awareness that our paths would intersect down the line (or maybe it was just the bowl cut — which I was sporting hard in my youth), but I certainly had an affinity for him even decades before we met.
I lost my own father when I was very young, so to have this man come into my life and resonate so many qualities to which I aspire, and be such an example of dignity and grace and fulfillment — that was the part of it that so far exceeded any expectations I could have had. And that is the part of me that feels the greatest sense of loss at his death. Leonard had a way of communicating that was never pedantic — he was never trying to teach, and yet he lived with such completeness that there was wisdom in everything he said.
The last time that I saw him, about a month and a half ago, he was a little more frail and less mobile than he had been previously. But his essence was as vibrant and vital as ever. Leonard was very open about his struggle with COPD, and I could see the toll that it was talking on him — but his spirit was indomitable, and he never let those struggles overshadow his joy for life. Dwelling on some of the scarier or sadder parts of his decline was never in his nature. So we sat and we talked for a few hours and it was delightful. We spoke of plans that we had, creative goals, the movies we had seen, politics. It was much like any of our meetings and conversations.
But I was so grateful that when I found out we had lost him, I was able to immediately get on a plane and make my way to Los Angeles to be with his family, have one final goodbye, and to speak at his funeral. It was a great gift for me to be able to express my feelings and share them with the people that he loved the most. While it is true that I feel a profound sadness at the loss of a great man and an even greater friend, that sadness is not only counterbalanced — but outweighed — by the tremendous gratitude I have for the time we shared, the laughs we had and the stories of our connection that I will cherish forever. The world is a better place for having had Leonard Nimoy in it, and I am a better man to be sure.
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