Three decades ago, as the craze over a long-cancelled show called Star Trek became feverish, Leonard Nimoy wrote a book called I Am Not Spock.
A little over 10 years ago, noticing that when people called out "Spock!" on the street he'd turn around, Nimoy bowed to the inevitable and wrote a book called I Am Spock.
Now J.J. Abrams is coming up with the next Star Trek movie, in which a young Kirk and Spock meet at Starfleet Academy. That means somebody else will be cast as Spock.
Which means, we tell Nimoy, you are not Spock again.
The Vulcan laughs. Nimoy lets go a loud guffaw over the phone from his Lake Tahoe home and says "I never thought of that. My next title should be 'I Am Not Necessarily Spock.' "
Retired, and devoted to his family and his photography hobby, Nimoy doesn't much care about doings in Hollywood. But the actor/director -- who'll be appearing this weekend alongside old friend William Shatner at the Canadian Expo at the Metro Convention Centre (the annual Nerd Woodstock) -- could be coerced to boldly go back for the right set of pointy ears.
"The head of production at Paramount called my agency to tell them about this project and they are aware of Bill's and my contribution to the franchise, and they'd like us to know they might want some involvement. It was all very, very general
"They might possibly want Bill and I to set up the story as a flashback. But that's just conjecture on my part."
Whether or not it brings him back to the screen, Star Trek has brought Nimoy out of the house quite a bit more this year -- the occasion being the 40th anniversary of the launch of the USS Enterprise's five-year mission on NBC, Sept. 8, 1966 (the episode, for trivia buffs out there, was "The Man Trap," about a salt-eating vampire creature let loose on the Enterprise).
"It is a long time ago," Nimoy says, "yet some of it is extremely fresh in my mind. I vividly remember some of the earliest makeup tests and wardrobe fittings, the first days of shooting. I remember shooting with Jeffrey Hunter on the first pilot (1965). And then the phone call I got from the studio saying they wanted to make a new pilot and they wanted me back."
Well, sort of wanted him. The most common studio memo that greeted the original Star Trek pilot (with Jeffrey Hunter as Capt. Pike) was "get rid of the guy with the ears."
And even 40 years ago last August, Nimoy recalls, "I opened up my mail one day and found a brochure from NBC's sales department which they were sending to potential sponsors. And in the photographs of me in that brochure, the pointy ears had been removed. I called Gene (Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) and he said he explained that somebody in sales had become concerned that the religious Bible Belt might be offended by the idea of a devilish looking character coming into their homes. So to play it safe they got rid of the ears."
Instead, he became Trek's most popular character, surviving even his own death in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. "I really thought I was finished when I saw that script, it's over."
Nimoy likens today's appetite for Star Trek to the '70s, "when there was this great demand and no product" (the last Trek series, Enterprise, was cancelled two years ago).
In fact, though much is made of a rivalry between "Trekkers" and Star Wars fans, Nimoy credits George Lucas for giving Trek life. "In '77 I was in Equus on Broadway and I kept hearing about the phenomenal success of Star Wars. I went to a theatre in Times Square and the place was packed with screaming, shouting, cheering people. And I thought 'Wow. I think we're going to be getting a call from Paramount. And sure enough, three weeks later, they announced their Star Trek movie."
Along with Shatner, Nimoy had the active non-Trek career, his as a director (Star Trek IV and two movies shot in T.O., The Good Mother and the smash hit Three Men And A Baby).
"These days I'm very much involved with my photography. My work is in several museums in the U.S. and in galleries. I work with nudity, female figures." Some of them -- the ones in his Full Body Project --quite, shall we say, Rubenesque. "That's one of the areas of my work," he says. "Not all of it, but it is a definite thread."
(See it on leonardnimoyphotography.com).
As for attending Trek conferences, "That's like taking a victory lap," Nimoy says. "They say wonderful things and stroke your ego. They tell you how you've affected their lives in a positive way, and thanks for all the years of entertainment."
Ditto, we say, and thanks for talking to us.
"Live long and prosper," Nimoy says with a chuckle.
THE LEONARD FILE
BORN: March 26, 1931 in Boston, Mass., to Ukrainian-Jewish immigrants
MIDDLE NAME: Simon
MORE THAN JUST SPOCK: Film director, poet, author, musician and photographer (check out his work at leonardnimoyphotography.com)
ROLE REVERSAL: Nimoy replaced Martin Landau in Mission: Impossible in 1969. Ironically, Landau turned down the Spock role to play the "Rollin Hand" character in Mission Impossible.
MUSIC MAN: Nimoy also has released several albums of vocal recordings including Trek-related songs and cover versions of popular tunes.
DID YOU KNOW?: Nimoy directed a 1985 music video for The Bangles' Going Down to Liverpool.
-- source: wikipedia.com