Star Trek Actor Says J.J. Abrams Got Nervous When Directing Leonard Nimoy
2009’s Star Trek was always going to be controversial with fans for rebooting the franchise and diverging from what’d gone before by kickstarting a new timeline, but one of its cleverest moves to win over the fanbase was including Leonard Nimoy as Spock – or Spock Prime, as he’d now be known.
Nimoy is one of the biggest legends of Trek and it made a real difference that he was still part of this reimagining of the series. And it’s not just the fans who were in awe of seeing him back on screen, as one of the film’s stars has revealed that director J.J. Abrams got a little nervous while shooting a scene with him.
Speaking at a panel at Dallas Fan Days, Karl Urban – who plays Hank “Bones” McCoy in the series – recalled the time that he witnessed Abrams having to give some direction to Nimoy and suddenly drying up when faced with this massive moment.
“At the end of the first take, J.J. got up and went to go and give Leonard Nimoy direction on how to play Spock. And it went like this: he got up and he started walking over, and then at some point, as he was walking he looks up and he sees Leonard Nimoy and goes – and JJ’s never lost for words, ever – but I literally clocked the moment he looked up and realized, ‘Holy shit, I’m about to give direction to Spock.’ And I asked him about it, he goes, ‘Yeah, I freaked out. I got halfway over there and thought, ‘Oh my God, what can I tell this guy about playing this character that he doesn’t already know?’. So he really had to think about it. It was kind of hilarious.”
Of course, Abrams went on to work with Nimoy again in the 2012 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, which featured the actor in a reduced role but still an important one – he told the Enterprise crew of the sinister significance of their new foe, Khan Noonien Singh. Tragically, Nimoy passed away in 2015 and the following year’s Star Trek Beyond honored the actor by referencing Spock Prime’s own death, which greatly affects Zachary Quinto’s version.
Nimoy’s iconic performance has ensured that Spock the character lives on, however, as Star Trek: Discovery will feature the Vulcan in its upcoming second season, with Ethan Peck having taken over the role. The Nimoy family has given Peck their blessing as well and judging by the legendary actor’s encouragement of the franchise moving forward, as shown by his participation in 2009’s Star Trek, we like to think he’d have extended that blessing.