Friday, May 27, 2011

Leonard Nimoy Says Phoenix Comicon May be Among his Last Public Appearances, Talks Today's Science Fiction Films Leonard Nimoy Says Phoenix Comicon May be Among his Last Public Appearances, Talks Today's Science Fiction Films

Phoenix Comicon may be one of Leonard Nimoy's last public appearances before he goes into retirement, according to Spock himself.

The actor and science-fiction legend says he just doesn't feel the need for it anymore, emotionally or financially, and that he would rather focus more on his photography.

"Several museums now hold my work around the country," he says. "But the most important [reason] is my family. I have a great family life, with wonderful people that I love dearly. I've had a great, great run and I'm a very grateful guy."

College Times caught up with Nimoy in advance of this year's Phoenix Comicon, in which he'll unveil a presentation full of photos and stories of his time working in the industry, including his time on "Star Trek."

College Times: You started as Spock in 1966. What are your thoughts on the evolution science fiction through the years?

Nimoy: Science fiction has replaced the western that we used to do. Western is one of the frontier stories, and science fiction deals with those frontier issues. The way Indians used to be portrayed as the bad people, now we have Vulcans and other aliens as bad people. It has become the new final frontier, because of conflict between the nasty people there. Technology, of course, has evolved exponentially. It's just exploded and that has changed science fiction drastically. The first science fiction work I did was in 1960, I did a project called "Zombies of the Stratosphere." It's really funny to look back on it now, because it is so limited in special effects. The bombast and the gigantic creatures and explosions of today are just extraordinary. It's all about post-production these days.

Is technology one of the elements of a good science fiction story?

Well, the question is what's the story? To me, that's always important, because if you take away all the bombast and the crashes and fires and explosions, I'm interested in the story. Is there something intriguing? Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.

Where did the Vulcan gesture come from?

That came from when I was a child, and I would attend holiday services with my family. When the congregation is blessed by members of the priestly tribe of the Hebrew congregation, they say "May the Lord bless you, may the Lord cause his countenance to shine upon you, may the Lord turn his graces upon you and grant you peace." They were doing this in a way where they were shouting, and they held their hands out to the audiences with that gesture; the split fingers. I learned how to do it afterward and learned what it was all about; it is the shape of the letter in Hebrew that begins the word for God. They were evoking God's name as they bless the congregation.

You also introduced Spock's Vulcan Death Grip, the famous pinch on the neck, correct?

I did, because I didn't want to be punching people or have a weapon.

Because you injected some of yourself into Spock, do you find yourself more similar or different to him?

I've been told I take on his stoic characteristic. But on the other hand, my training as an actor was to use my emotions, and to express emotional responses in specific situations. Spock called for the opposite – he called for ultimate control of his emotions. I had to find a way to do that. It was my job in portraying this particular character, so I dug into my tool kit and I went to work. It took a little time to find my footing and make sure I could do that without being boring.

Spock has become a true pop culture icon. Why do you think this is?

I think people can really identify with him. At times, his wit is very clever. He's also very loyal and helpful. It's interesting – over the years, as much as we talk about Spock being a Vulcan and an alien and all that, if you really stop to think about it, he's really a human character. He's dealing with his own personal issues which are very human issues, because there's the conflict of logic and emotion in his life. And people get that and they understand that and relate to it.

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