In the new Star Trek movie, which chronicles the early lives of Captain James Kirk, and the half-human Vulcan, Spock, there are two actors embodying the character of Spock, Zachary Quinto and Leonard Nimoy, who has been playing the role for over 40 years.
We talk to Zachary Quinto…
When you were young did people tell you that you looked like Spock?
No, I never really heard that, although I certainly was sporting a Spock bowl cut when I was 12. I have pictures to prove it. I might dig them out at some point.
Did you study Leonard to see how he played Spock?
Leonard and I watched a couple episodes together and talked about his experience shooting those episodes, but aside from that I felt that it was incumbent upon me to determine my own relationship with this character.
That was the mandate that JJ set forth very early on in the process. We were expected to use the foundation as a point of entry into our experiences with the characters.
Was it difficult to find the fine line of playing a character that is supposed to be emotionless, but that does have some emotions?
Well, I think it’s a common misconception that Spoke doesn’t feel emotion. I think he feels emotion very deeply, but he’s just restricted in the way that he’s able to express it.
For me, it was about cultivating a deeply rooted inner life, and not being able to do much other than hold on to it, which can be frustrating as an actor, especially when, around me, my fellow actors are emoting and having a good time.
What kind of actor and man did you discover Leonard Nimoy to be?
The most impressive thing to me about Leonard is how he faced the potential obstacles that playing Spock presented to him.
Science fiction was a different thing 40 years ago than it is today, and watching him re-define his creative journey, becoming a director, a writer, an amazing photographer and a genius art collector.
These are things that define someone’s life as more than just being an actor.
What was it like working with him?
Working with Leonard was an incredible honor. The whole experience for me was so fulfilling, beyond my wildest expectation, in terms of just getting to know him and understanding how this character has informed his creative processes and his life.
I’ve been asked a lot if there was any pressure because of Leonard’s involvement in the film, and my response has always been, ‘To the contrary, having him as a resource and such a generous available support system, actually made it so much easier for me to step into the experience.’