Leonard Nimoy passed away 14 months ago. Preparations are going on currently to celebrate that this year is STAR TREK’s 50th anniversary. I wish he could be here. I have been remembering, and I realize I spent almost no time with Leonard away from the STAR TREK sets. Once a couple of years after directing my final STAR TREK, THE THOLIAN WEB, I met Leonard at an annual Pasadena Playhouse Alumni breakfast. I think we sat at the same table.
And yet I feel I knew him. I have read many comments from guest actors, who found him aloof, not too friendly. That was not my experience with him. And to be truthful, I was probably associating more with Mr. Spock than with Leonard Nimoy. But that was how Leonard worked as an actor. He was totally committed to creating that very unusual and unique character. Only when I read Marc Cushman’s THESE ARE THE VOYAGES did I learn that when we filmed the first of my treks, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, Leonard had severe reservations about the script. He had been so intent during the long gestation period of that first season while developing the Vulcan who prided himself on his lack of emotions, and suddenly he was being asked to make a complete reversal, to present a Mr. Spock whose emotions had no boundaries. His concern was to do that without compromising the character he had so meticulously created. Not one word of his concerns, of his doubts surfaced on the set. Not once did he object to what I asked him to do, so that even when I suddenly changed my mind in the middle of filming a sequence where he was standing in the middle of a field talking to Bill Shatner and I asked him to do the same scene hanging from the limb of a tree like a monkey, he performed it with such exuberance and flamboyant panache, it took close to half a century for me to realize what he must have been thinking, but not revealing.
Here are scenes from THIS SIDE OF PARADISE and BREAD AND CIRCUSES. You can view the range of emotions emanating from the stoic Mr. Spock. The irony is that the emotionless Mr. Spock that Leonard created was far from that. He was one of the – no, I amend that to say he IS the most iconic character ever created on American television, and he and Leonard will be with us forever.