|An Evening with Leonard Nimoy - Carpenter Center, Long Beach|
2011 April 30, 8:00 pm
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at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, CSULB, 6200 Atherton Street
It is honorable to do your job well. I took this very seriously. … When I was about 17 I played in „Awake and Sing!“ … this was around 1947, 48. … I was cast as a juvenile in a family which was very much like my own family. Three generations live in an apartment, and that was like we lived at home: My grandparents, my parents and my brother and I, and I was playing a seventeen year old kid, and I was seventeen at the time, so it was very close to my own experience. This is about how you get around in the world, how you find a job for yourself, how do you find the right girl for yourself? Who you are supposed to be in this world. And I was having the same personal struggles and I identified so much with this character that I thought I'd like to do this kind of work, to illuminate characters like this for the rest of my life.
Now, you get to understand my folks were simple immigrants from what was called "the old country" from Russia. My father was a barber, he started cutting hair when he was sixteen. His entire life he cut people's hair and shaved people's faces. He was not a hairdresser or stylist, he was a [with deeper voice] barber. And what he knew about .... was very unsophisticated. When I told him I wanted to be an actor he said: Well, you'll be hanging around with gypsies and vagabonds.
I didn't take his advice very seriously but there were times in the next ten, twelve years when playing the accordion would have been a step up from whatever I was doing.
Just before I left Boston the last movie that I saw was a play of Shakespear's Henry V starring Lawrence Olivier. And there came a scene just before the battle of Agincourt where the English were gonna meet the French. And the English, Henry V men were vastly outnumbered and during this night the king goes down in the camp, hooded and disguised because he wanted to know what his troops were thinking about. They are going to fight the French in the morning and there is a very good chance that al of them might not be thrilled. So he listens to what they are saying and somebody said: I wish we had more men! .... And he says in the morning: Wish not for a single man more. If we are about to die, we do our country loss. If we live, the fewer men, the greater share of honor. And there was that word that choked me, struck me again: The idea of honor.
And he goes on to say:
And that's what I was carrying with me on the train to Boston. I crossed the country by train seeking something honorable to do with my life.
So I took off and went to that great citadel of honor with the name "Hollywood". (laughter in the audience) and then, after three days and three nights on a coach seat - that helps to build character.