LOS ANGELES—Actor Zachary Quinto recalls that in the late 1980s, as a child growing up in Pittsburgh, he wore his hair in the “bull cut” style of one of his heroes, the Vulcan Spock, portrayed in the Star Trek television series and subsequent films by Leonard Nimoy. Twenty years later, Quinto is himself playing the character in Star Trek, a new film that looks at how the starship Enterprise crew came together. Nimoy plays the elderly Spock, and he says that although he had problems with some of the films in the series, he didn't hesitate to say yes when he was asked to take a role in this film, which opens May 8.
Watch the trailer for Star Trek.
“[Director] J. J. Abrams and the filmmakers reawakened in me the passion that I had when we made the series and the original films,” Nimoy says in an L.A. hotel room. “I was put back in touch with what I cared about in Star Trek and why I enjoyed being involved with the series. So it was an easy decision to come home. The [later] series went off in a direction that I didn't relate to very well. That is the simplest way to put it. But these filmmakers showed me things and said things and demonstrated a sensibility that I felt very comfortable with, and I think it shows in the movie.”
Quinto and Nimoy got together during the shooting of the film to talk about the fact that audiences would see both the younger and the older versions of Spock on-screen. They wanted to make a seamless transition that would allow Quinto to find his own sense of the character.
“I have been asked if there was pressure on me, but on the contrary, having him [Nimoy] as a resource and a generous support system allowed me to step easily into the experience,” says Quinto, a costar of the TV series Heroes. “I didn't watch the old series again, but Leonard and I watched two episodes together and we talked about his experience. However, I thought it was incumbent on me to determine my own relationship to this character. He felt that we [the actors playing the younger versions of the Enterprise crew] should just be expected to use the foundation as a point of entry into these characters.”
Nimoy says he was impressed by decisions Quinto made during his performance. “He made some choices that I thought were wonderful surprises, but we didn't have any specific conversations about the role. We had general conversations about the psychology of the character, but there were no specific instructions. It didn't need that. But I am very proud of what he did. I love the idea that he is doing the character, and I think we have bookended Spock. He is playing a Spock that existed before the character that I played in the series, and I am playing a Spock that is more resolved and closer to who I actually am today. So I think it works extremely well.”