Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spock & Nimoy: Findly Boldly Going Their Separate Ways

I spent roughly five years as the LA Liaison for Titan Magazines, during which time I wrote over 500 articles, largely interviews conducted on the sets and in the offices of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5, it's telefilms and short-lived spin-off, Crusade. In June, 1996, I had the privilege of interviewing Leonard Nimoy for Titan's Star Trek Monthly magazine. One question that I had for Mr Nimoy was difficult to phrase. I felt the Star Trek actors' personal images had become iconic in a way no other character's ever had. Everyone knows who James Bond is, but Bond has been played by a host of different people, and while some stand out above the others, none can claim to be exclusively the "look" of Bond. The same for Batman, Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, and pretty much every other fictional superstar. But Shatner and Nimoy were forever Kirk and Spock. Their actual faces, and not fudged approximations, appeared on literally millions of books, videotapes, DVDs, comic books, toys, lunch boxes, action figures... I wanted to know what it felt like to have this "twin" of yourself out in the world, having effects and adventures that you weren't aware of. In other words, Spock had a life beyond Nimoy, particularly in books, and I wondered if Nimoy had a sense of that aspect of himself out in the world apart from his physical self. Now, with Zachary Quinto so ably filling these colossal shoes (something I wouldn't have thought possible in 1996), I pulled up my transcript of Mr Nimoy's response to my question. I'll share it here (with a plug for the great mags at Titan). I phrased my question above, and ended it by asking, "Can you always answer for Spock? Is there anything about Spock you don’t know?"

Mr Nimoy's response:

I hope so. I would think so, I would think so. I think there’s more to be discovered, and maybe someday we’ll do a book about the unknown aspects of the Spock character. It’s a very rich field, this whole idea of the half-human, half-alien sort of diasporite character and I think about him a lot, I often wonder what’s been undiscovered. I’m sure there’s more.

You’re touching on a very interesting aspect of my relationship with this character. In a sense we are joined at the hip, in another sense we have separate identities, and that’s what leads to the title of these books [I Am Not Spock/ I Am Spock], that I’ve done so far, is the idea that we are and are not the same people and that’s what the first book was about. The book was not a rejection of the character. It was an exploration of this phenomenon that you’re pointing to in an interesting kind of way, that Spock goes off and does things and I’m not necessarily there. I go off and do things and Spock is not necessarily there. On the other hand, we do merge and become one on certain occasions, so its a very interesting experience. You know there was a story done, I think it was Alexander Dumas, many years ago, called The Corsican Brothers, in which these brothers are so close in their relationship that they had empathy for each other. They could be miles apart but if one was having an experience of a kind, the other one experienced it with him. And I think there’s that strange kind of sensation that I have with Spock. I have a feeling that a part of me is in those books and in those adventures in which I’m not physically participating, but I have an emotional connection.

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