An important part of making Star Trek XI was convincing Leonard Nimoy to sign on for the movie.
Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci felt that it was important to have Nimoy on board to help make the transition from Star Trek to rebooted Star Trek. “We couldn’t have made the movie without Leonard,” said Kurtzman.
Kurtzman explained why they needed Nimoy. “We knew early on that so much of what was going to be required in re-imagining Star Trek and also in staying true to everything that came before it, was going to hinge on Leonard, in a way, blessing us moving forward. Also, in a way telling the audience that it’s okay. ‘You can make this transition now, I’m here to help you.’ We knew without him we were never going to be able to have a movie.”
“We didn’t agree to do the movie until we had the idea that we could get Leonard to be in the story,” said Orci. “That’s going to be a way to do both pleasing old fans, and having him the soul of Star Trek the plot reason for the changes. We knew that his blessing, it wasn’t until we hit upon that, that we said ‘Okay, now we might know how to do this.’ It was pivotal for us. We couldn’t have done it any other way.”
The writers were a bit nervous when it came to explaining what they had in mind for Spock. “Pitching the fate of Spock, to Spock, was a bit unnerving,” said Kurtzman. “It’s like ‘And then your planet blows up. Huh? You like that?’ said Orci.
But Nimoy, although not saying ‘yes’ right away, liked what he heard, and that was enough for Kurtzman and Orci to continue what they were doing. “He didn’t commit right away but he gave us the confidence to move forward knowing that he liked a lot of the direction that we were going in,” said Kurtzman. “I think that both creatively in hearts what we wanted the movie to be, and what the movie became could not have happened without his okay.”