Frederick Newman (Muppet Magazine)
Muppet Magazine Issue #7:
Photos by Aaron Rapoport
Boy oh boy … dis place is going crazy! When da crew of da Schvinetrek found out Leonard Nimoy – Mr. Spock from Star Trek – was coming on board to meet me – Dr. Julius JT Strangepork, head Schmart Person around here – dey went nutso!
Dey’re running all over da place, squealing for his autograph. Let me tell you, I haven’t seen dis much action since First Mate Piggy accidentally sat on da control board!
Everybody knows Leonard Nimoy as dat pointy-eared guy from da planet Vulcan, but, believe you me, he’s been doing a lot more dan just sharpening his ears. He’s an actor in movies and on Broadway. He’s a television host, a photographer, a poet, a father, a husband, an author, and.., oh….peachy neato! Here he comes!...
LEONARD NIMOY: Dr. Strangepork? Is that you?
DR. STRANGEPORK: Shhh! Oh, ya. Dis is me alright. Quick. Into dis closet before da crew sees you! Dey all vant a silly autograph.
LN: I don’t mind....
DR. S: Oh, yes you do! Dey can be pretty vicious wid dos autograph books. Vell, have a seat—pull up a fuel cell. You don’t mind da supply closet, do you?
LN: No...uh... it’s your ship, Doctor. Whatever you say.
DR. S: Goody! Now, you have zillions of fans all over the universe who love your character, “Mr. Spock.” Life forms, like da crew on dis ship, go crazy wherever you go. Vhy do you tink dat is?
LN: They have good taste? No, actually I think people respect and understand Spock. Spock is a character who is different from everybody else on the starship Enterprise. Like Spock, most people feel that they are a little different from other people, somehow. So they can identify with Spock. And somehow, Spock has found his own way to be proud of himself. He doesn’t worry about whether other people like him, as long as he likes himself.
DR. S: Boy, you said it. I’ve always been different. . . a real schmarty, you know. (Sometimes I have to remind these ham-heads around here of dat.) You seem to be a real tinker, yourself. Do you like to tink?
LN: Tink... tink?...... oh, think! Yes, I have always loved to think and dream. When I was a kid, I’d be the one who would want to sit inside on a snowy day and keep the fire going so that I could watch the flames and dream. Outside, everybody would be throwing snowballs, but I was having fun in my way.
DR. S: I’ve read dat vhen you were a kid, you vorked as a theater usher, a newspaper boy, and in a pet shop. Vhen did you decide to be an actor?
LN: I was about seventeen and living in Boston, doing amateur plays. I got into a couple of shows that were very moving theater, where I felt people could be reached—more than just entertained, really moved. I saw that theater could change lives. And I thought acting could be important work, something I could spend my life doing....
DR. S: Ah, ya. But being an actor can be harder dan landing on da moon, huh?
LN: You bet. Nobody’s going to tell you that acting is an easy profession, because so many of us can’t find acting jobs.
When I was a teenager, a woman said something to me that I have always remembered: acting is a tough field, but there’s always room for one more good actor. What she said was, if you’re going to be an actor, you have to work very, very hard to master it. You don’t think in terms of luck, you think in terms of hard work. I think that’s a very important approach to everything you do.
DR. S: Ah. You’re such a whizz-bang good actor, how come you didn’t want to just act in your new movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock? You directed it. Vhy is dat?
LN: Well, directing is a job where you get a chance to invest more of yourself in a project than you can as an actor.
You see, making a movie is like building a car. One actor is responsible for the tires, another actor for the motor, another for the windows. The director is the person who assigns all of those jobs and who decides what the car will finally look like. It’s very exciting.
DR. S: Are you excited about Star Trek III?
LN: Oh, yes. I’ve been with Star Trek for eighteen years. And I’ve seen good directors come and go. I’ve seen good writers and good actors come and go. And in every case, I learned from the different people working on the shows and movies. Star Trek III is my first chance to really use all of those ideas and feelings about Star Trek that I’ve been storing up all this time. This is my version of Star Trek.
DR. S: Hoo, boy! Dat is exciting! ’ve been trying to find dat planet Vulcan for a long time. Vill da movie tell me more about Vulcan, Spock’s home?
LN: You’ll learn more about the planet, but also you’ll learn about all of the characters —Kirk, McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Checkov, Sulu—the Star Trek family. All of them will show a very personal side of themselves in this picture that we have not seen much of before. I think the audience is going to love them.
DR. S: Dat’s da kind of crew ve need around here.c
LN: Well, we’ve got some Klingons left over from Star Trek III that I might be able to send you….
DR. S: Oh no you don’t. Vee got enough trouble around h... (Knock, knock, knock)
CAPTAIN LINK (outside the door): Yoohoo... Mr. Nimoy! Dr. Strange-o! Hey, is anybody in there?
DR. S: Shhh Oh...ah... nothing but brooms and schtuff like dat in here.
LINK Oh, O.K. …..Nothing in there, guys, just some old junk.
DR. S: Hoo, boy! Dat vas a close one.
Dos schmallminded autograph nuts are really after you. Now, vhere vas I? Oh, yes, Vhat do you tink about schpace travel?
LN: Space is a whole new territory that’s just opening up to us. We’ve only opened the door a crack. But, for the first time in history, America has a real spaceship—the shuttle—that can go into space, come back, and then go back out again, just like our Star Trek spaceship Enterprise.
There’s still so much we don’t know about ourselves—as a planet and as human beings. I think the more we explore space, the more we learn about ourselves and earth.
I still believe strongly that when people from various nations on this planet get together to go out into space, we will have a better chance of learning things about each other that will help us get along better on earth. Star Trek, I think, demonstrated this in a very positive way—that different people can get along.
DR. S: How did you feel vhen America’s first space shuttle vas named Enterprise after your Star Trek spaceship?
LN: Doctor, I felt like I was really part of it. I was there when they rolled out the first model, and the Navy band was playing the theme to Star Trek. I thought she was beautiful. And it struck me, you know, in a very real way, you have to have dreamers for that kind of thing—dreamers just like the creators and fans of Star Trek.
DR. S: Uh, oh. I hear dem coming. Before ve get out of dis closet, and you get attacked by dos schtupid piggies who vant your signature, can I ask you a favor?
LN: Of course, Dr. Strangepork. What is it?
DR. S: Could I have your autograph? Just write: To Julius, my schpace buddy with da pointy ears.”….