Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Nimoy Experience At STLV 2010 - Part 1

I’ve had a crush on Spock since the original Star Trek series. I loved his restraint, his contained fire. I loved that he was an attractive man who appreciated intelligence in a woman, in contrast to the skirt-chasing Kirk. Last year the combination of two Spocks, Nimoy and Quinto, lured me to my first Star Trek convention at Las Vegas. This year, no Quinto alas. But Leonard Nimoy was here and talking about his latest photographic project. So I decided to attend this year's Trek convention.

I won’t do a blow-by-blow report – other sites have done that well: Trek Movie for example. I’d like to share with you the magic of experiencing Nimoy.

At age 79, he is still tall and lean and handsome – and absolutely charming. I had heard most of his stories before. Even so it was delightful to hear him tell them again. He tells his tales well, pacing them nicely and building the point by repetition in the wording or the rhythm. He told the story of his reflection on him as an actor being identified with the character Spock. A woman with a small child had stopped, pointed to him and said, “Look, it’s your favorite person. It’s Mr. Spock”. And the kid wasn’t having any of it. Nimoy was not in costume, didn’t have pointed ears, and to the child had nothing in common with Spock. I could see him standing there bemused as the kid refused to associate him with his character. Quite rightly too.

I remember last year seeing that it was clear that Zach is not Sylar nor is he Spock. He is simply Zach. After 40 years as Spock, it is less clear with Leonard Nimoy. He relates in his second biography "I am Spock", that he has taken on some of Spock’s temperateness. When he and Shatner are on stage together, they play this to the hilt. Shatner is irrepressibly exuberant while Nimoy is calm and unflappable. Kirk and Spock, as they have been for generations now. They clearly realize they are part of a large mythology.

One of the questions from the audience was “Would you consider doing another Star Trek movie?” Nimoy had already stated that he won’t be in the next one. He has passed the baton on to Zachary Quinto, who “is a well trained actor and does his job well”, and that continuing to hold onto it wouldn’t be right. “I am very proud that the character has a new life with such a talented actor.” But he laughed, “I have learned never to say never as far as Star Trek goes!” After the second season of the original TV show, the series was cancelled. He said “goodbye” and thought it was over. Then the letter writing campaign led to a third season. At the end, Nimoy said “goodbye” again and thought it was over.

Years later – “Star Trek, The Movie”. Nimoy pointed out that the title was “the” movie – one, singular, not “the first”. So “goodbye” again at the end. Then “The Wrath of Khan” - they enlisted him with the promise of a really good death scene. “Death scene” – surely that meant it was the last Star Trek for him. But of course it wasn’t. He went on to act – and sometimes direct – in the other Star Trek movies, in Next Generation and in the new Star Trek movie.

One format of the convention pairs up key actors for on stage. So Nimoy had the stage, then Shatner, then both, mostly poking fun at each other. Shatner kept pressing Nimoy to do a spot in one of his many current projects. Nimoy demurred, “Did you hear I’m retiring from acting and directing? Everyone else here has heard.” Shatner ignored that and pressed. Nimoy said, “If I did guest appearances on all the shows you do, I’d never have a minute for myself or my family.” “Forget them,” Bill exclaimed. “I’m your friend!!!

Shatner teased that Nimoy said yes to JJ Abrams, but not to him – a familiar theme. “What are you up to next,” he asked Nimoy, condescendingly adding “…with your little camera?” Later Nimoy got him back. “You used to do great work, Bill.

If it were with a sharper tone, this bantering would have irritated me. But it was with such fondness and familiarity that it was endearing. More seriously, Nimoy turned the conversation to the day Shatner’s father died. They were shooting the morning Shatner was notified. He was devastated but couldn’t get a flight until evening. So he finished shooting. Shatner said he remembered so fondly Leonard’s support, his “physical presence, like elephants holding each other up”. Leonard responded, “How proud an experience it was to work with you in those difficult times!

May we each in our lives experience a friendship such as those two have.

Thanks to LindsaySF for her "older men like Nimoy can have nice biceps" blog contribution and pics! ;)

Note: There will be another Nimoy blog in the pipeline. Stay tuned!

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