How Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy felt about playing Spock again

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Leonard Nimoy, who reprises his most famous role in J.J. Abrams' upcoming Star Trek, told SCI FI Wire that he found it relatively easy to slip back into the character of Spock after more than a decade in this second part of our exclusive Q&A.

"I found myself extremely comfortable doing it," Nimoy said. "I found myself very close to the character. I think that in a fun kind of way, in a wonderful kind of way, my own life has come to a point where I feel more—probably as Spock would at that point in his life—comfortable in his shoes. The Spock that we've showed all through the years always had some kind of turmoil going, there was always some inner conflict. I think I have arrived in my own life as Spock as in a more of a serenity, and I felt very comfortable playing that."

Nimoy plays an older version of the character in the movie, which goes back to the first meeting of James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), young Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the rest of the crew of the starship Enterprise.

We spoke to Nimoy exclusively about Star Trek. Following is the second part of our two-part interview. The first part posted yesterday. Star Trek opens May 8.

Did you and Zachary Quinto have conversations about Spock?

Nimoy Sure. A lot. Yeah.

Anything stand out in your mind?

Nimoy: Well, he's very inquisitive, he's a very intelligent actor and asks the good questions and is studious about the way he approaches a character, which I admire and I identify with. He works very much the same way I do, trying to find out what's going on in the interior life of this person and how to manifest that in the performance. He's well trained, intelligent, talented actor.

Talk about what it was like putting on the ears and the wig again.

Nimoy: Oh, that's a kick. You know, it's just such a great experience to be welcomed back like that and to be given something meaningful to do. I've really enjoyed every minute of it. Putting on the makeup and working with it and working with the wardrobe people. And then, of course, working with the cast and J.J. It was just wonderful.

What was your first sort of feeling when you saw yourself as Spock again for the first time?

Nimoy: Well, it was gradual, you know, because it doesn't take place in a moment. It's gradual, because the first thing they have to do, they call you up and they say, "OK, it's time to go out and make a cast of your ears." And so that's the first step. They put plaster on the ears ... to create the mold. And then you come back and look at the molding of the sculpture that they've done to create the ear tips. And then you come back when the first pair are ready, and you try them on, and you say, "Well, they should be a little bit more of this and a little bit less of that." And you gradually have to refine it. ... It's not like dropping ... a couple of eggs in the pot and boiling them. It takes time to work it out. But eventually you get to a point where you say, "Well, that looks—now we look like we can walk out and get in front of a camera."

It must have been quite a moment when you first appear as Spock on stage. Can you tell me what that was like?

Nimoy: Well, the first time was actually a test, so it wasn't really in the production. The first day that I walked out into the room where they had a camera rolling and lights and what have you, it was a test. And I was in wardrobe, which eventually became changed. The makeup. I said to J.J. when I walked in, I said, "We're a work in progress." And we weren't there yet. And I knew it, and he knew it, and the wardrobe and makeup people knew it, but we wanted to see what it looked like on film. And we went through two or three of those processes before we finally arrived at a look where he said, "OK, we've got it now. We can go to work." And then it becomes exciting. Then you get Spock walking on a stage.

Was there a moment when the crew kind of all stopped and realized what was happening?

Nimoy: I got such a sense from everybody, that I was welcomed back and that they really enjoyed seeing me come back to do this. I hadn't done it in something like, I think, 18 years. And everybody was aware of that. It was a very special experience.

Were you on some of the same stages at Paramount where you had shot some of the other films?

Nimoy: Yeah, yeah. We were actually on some of the stages that we had shot on for the original series. ...

Did you have a moment where you were like, "I can't believe I'm in another Star Trek movie?"

Nimoy: The whole thing felt like a dream. It felt like a dream. I kept sort of pinching myself and saying, "Am I really here? Doing this?" It's hard to believe after all these years. I don't remember what year it was I finished, but I think it's about 17 or 18 years ago.