Legendary actor, singer, director, producer, author, poet and art photographer. Mr Nimoy is currently producing “Shakespeare’s Will”, a theatre play which opens on June 28th 2007 in Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills
- I know that you’ve begun your acting career very early........
- That’s right; I started at the age of eight in Boston where I grew up. I did children’s theatre until I was about 17 years old, then I’ve begun acting in adult theater also in Boston, but still amateur, not professional but with very good, I would call them semi-professional, companies. When I was eighteen I decided to become a professional actor. I left home and went to California to become a professional actor and study here. I studied for a while until my money run out. I did go to work at various kinds of other jobs, that’s until I went in the Army. I was married while I was in the Army; I was married in 1954. (That marriage lasted 33 years and ended in 1986 or 87.) And then after I came out of the Army (From the Editor: Mr. Nimoy was honorably discharged with the rank of a Sergeant!) I was doing small roles in various TV shows, an occasional movie role and I performed on stage in Los Angeles whenever I could until around 1960. In 1960 I was hired to teach acting classes so I was able to make a living between my acting work and teaching. I was able to make a living without doing other jobs.
- The initial struggle before you were able to achieve some stability in your professional work paid off handsomely. You have achieved unparalleled success! Pretty much everybody in the world knows you as Mr. Spock on Star Trek; everybody in the US knows you also as "The Great Paris" on Mission Impossible; for your many roles in film, television and on stage, and for your successful musical recordings.
- I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful career. I’m very grateful for every single bit of it.
As I said, from about 1960 on I was able to make a living teaching and acting and after the year 1966 (From the Editor: that’s the year when Mr. Nimoy “became” Mr. Spock on Star Trek) I have never been concerned about work. I’ve always had enough work.
- You have received FOUR Emmy nominations! You are the recipient of four Saturn Awards, Sci-Fi Universe Magazine USA Award, ShoWest Award as best actor, best director and best supporting actor. You have received awards and recognitions for your musical work as well. You have written, directed and produced several highly successful projects. You have a Star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. How does it feel to you - after the years of struggle - to have achieved so much?
- I’m a very grateful; I’m a very happy person. By the way, I also have four Honorary Doctorates from various universities in the United States. I’m content with my life. I have a wonderful personal life. Photography is now my major interest....
- I was about to go there! I have mentioned your world-famous works first, on purpose. It seems to me that most people - in your position - would have sat back and rested on their laurels: you didn’t.
- That’s not for me, I’m too restless!
- You have pursued SEVERAL different art forms as if to defy being type-casted (as Mr. Spock or as an actor?) and you’ve done so with a huge success! You have achieved acclaim as an author: “I Am Not Spock” (1977) and “I Am Spock” (1995) and a poet (Mr. Nimoy has published several volumes of poetry. “A Lifetime of Love: Poems on the Passages of Life”, his latest volume of poems has been published in 2002). Last but not least, your art photography is absolutely breath-taking!
- Thank you.
(From the Editor: I urge you all to visit the gallery of Mr. Nimoy’s black and white art photography Online: www.LeonardNimoyPhotography.com (R.Michelson Gallery). No matter how hard we may deny it, unless one read his books, we all associate him primarily with Mr. Spock from Star Trek. In my case, seeing his magnificent, black and white images was the turning point at which I realized that Mr. Nimoy’s contribution to the arts extends WAY beyond the character of Mr. Spock. He is a multi-faceted artist driven to express his vision of the world through variety of media. And his vision of the world is extra-ordinary.)
- I suppose asking which one of the many forms of art is your “first love” would be foolish. Am I correct in assuming that the creative process as such is the driving force in your life?
- That’s exactly right. The creative impulse is a constant for me. I’m restless in that respect. I’m constantly looking for ways to make something that didn’t exist before.
Photography is a wonderful outlet for me now because it’s a process I can engage in on my own, quickly and independently. I don’t need to be concerned about large studio projects, large studio budgets, and casting, and production budgets, and locations. I can get up in the morning with a photographic idea and I can execute it during the course of that day. By nighttime, I have an object in my hand that I can hang on the wall, I can give to you as a present, or I can show in a gallery, or publish in a book. So it’s a very tangible creative outlet as compared to what an actor does; an actor cannot hold a performance in his hand; I can hold my photograph in my hand, and put it up on a shelf for people to see, or put it up on the wall. It’s a wonderful outlet for me!
- I stand in awe of your creativity; there are very few artists as multi-faceted as you are.
Changing the subject for a moment, I’d like to say and it is rather shameful to admit but I know very little about Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater at the Griffith Observatory. What is it about?
- The Griffith Observatory has undergone major renovation. It’s a major landmark in Los Angeles. It is one of the most highly visited sites for tourists who come to Los Angeles. It’s a very beautiful building, about 70 years old. They have always had a planetarium but they’ve never had a theatre in the complex. So when they undertook the rehabilitation of the place several years ago they were interested in the possibility of introducing a theatre in the newly expanded space. (They were adding 30.000 square feet under ground.) They were interested in the possibility of having a theatre in that space. So my wife Susan has heard about the renovation and their ambitions and we went up and visited with them. We saw the architecture, we saw the design, and we agreed to provide the funding for the theatre. So now the Griffith Observatory has a theatre for the first time in its history. It’s a theatre where they can show films, they can have lectures, and so forth. For example, if there is an event happening in space that’s being transmitted electronically they can show it on screen, live. They can show shows about various aspect of Space and the Universe.
- Like Star Trek?........
- No, no....... (he’s laughing) But they’re also constantly running a video, a very wonderful video: it shows the history of the Observatory and the process of its rehabilitation.
- Based on your description, the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater at the Griffith Observatory seems to be in-keeping with....... the mission of the Starship Enterprise (I’m paraphrasing): “to explore strange new worlds and to boldly go where no man has gone before.” I find it eerily appropriate that it’s funded by the artist who portrayed Mr. Spock! (It reminds me of the cross-pollination between science-fiction and science!)
- On a different note, you are currently producing “Shakespeare’s Will” by Canadian playwright, Vern Thiessen, starring Jeanmarie Simpson as Anne Hathaway. The play is directed by your wife, Susan Bay Nimoy. Why did you choose this particular play?
- The play was brought to us by the actress Jeanmarie Simpson who for a long time has been the artistic director of the Nevada Shakespeare Festival. She is a very wonderfully accomplished theatrical actress, whom we’ve known for some time. We have a house in Northern California and we’ve seen some of her work and some of her productions during the Nevada Shakespeare Festival. We have become fans and friends of hers.
And she came by this play, brought it to my wife, Susan and asked her if she would look at it. Susan fell so in love it with this play! It’s a very beautiful piece, very beautifully written, very moving, and funny. It’s an amazing piece of work; an amazing piece of writing. Susan showed it to me and I agreed with her. Jeanmarie Simpson asked Susan if she would direct it and I agreed to produce it and that’s how the project came about. It’s a piece that Susan - with her partner Chase Mishkin - has now optioned for the rest of the United States, including Broadway and for English-speaking territories: UK and Australia. It is now being submitted to directors for the Broadway production. It’s been done before but only in Canada as far as I know.
- So this is the United States Première!
- And this is an extremely well written, very beautiful piece of work and Jeanmarie Simpson is going to be brilliant in it. This a wonderful opportunity for Los Angeles audience to get a glimpse of it BEFORE it goes to New York.
- It sounds terrific; I like Theatre 40 because it frequently features interesting, original plays.
- You’re absolutely right, and this is one of those. It is the story of Anne Hathaway, she is the character on stage, reminiscing about her life as William Shakespeare’s wife. It is quite an extra-ordinary story.
- Your wife, Susan Bay Nimoy is directing “Shakespeare’s Will”, what could you tell us about your wife’s work?
- My wife is a long time director. She’s been away from it for some years but this is a return to something that has been a great love of hers for 40 years. She is one of the first women to be a member of the Directors Guild of America, while she was directing television. She has directed various documentaries over the years. One in particular is a documentary about an artist by the name of Liza Lou who is a wonderful Southern California artist. So Susan has had an interesting career in directing and this is a return to something that she loves and does very well.
- I’m assuming that as collaboration between the two of you, the production will be spectacular! I’d like to ask two more questions which may seem unrelated to you, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t ask. Which one of your many projects holds the most meaning to you, personally?
- It’s always the project you’re working on right now. But there is no question that the Star Trek experience and Mr. Spock has had a major, major, immeasurable influence on my life and my work so I’m very grateful for that.
- Final question: you have achieved MORE than an average mortal dares to dream of. What do you value the most in your life today?
- I value my personal life more than anything else. I’m delighted and blessed to have the creative outlets that I have but my personal life is very happy one, I feel very enriched, I feel very rewarded for the efforts that I put in. My life with Susan is extra-ordinary. I have five wonderful grandchildren. And I have a great sense of contentment in my life.
I’m a very, very content person.
- Well, that’s something for all of us to strive for. I sincerely appreciate your time and - on behalf of Los Angeles’ theatre-goers - we can’t wait to see “Shakespeare’s Will” in Theatre 40! (I know that there are only four performances planned and the tickets are selling fast....) Last but not least, thank you Mr. Nimoy for continuing to contribute your talents to our collective culture!