If things had gone his way, Leonard Nimoy would have had two roles in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
Luckinbill played the older Vulcan half-brother of Spock who was on the hunt for Sha Ka Ree and God.
It was said that Sean Connery was up for the role of Sybok, but Luckinbill got it due to his work in a play, Lyndon. “Bill (Shatner) told me that he was watching Public Television one night and he said, ‘That’s the guy to play Sybok.’ They looked me up and they looked at my filmography, without the Lyndon makeup on, and Bill was even more convinced. He just decided, and Harve Bennett and the other producer went along with it.
“They called me in. When an actor goes to a studio, whether he’s been asked to go or his agent has sent him, you can tell when you go through the gate where you stand. When I arrived at Paramount to talk to these guys, there was no audition. It was just a discussion, a conversation. I found a guy at the gate waiting for me with a car to take me to the bungalow where we were going to have the discussion. That’s rare. Usually, you park your car, walk, find the place, then you walk in and wait with the other actors. This was a special deal. I got in the car, we drove about two blocks within the studio, I walked up the stairs and sat down with Harve and Bill. In about ten minutes they said, ‘You’re good to go. We want you. Let’s get you into the mix here.”
But someone else was a bit put out that Luckinbill got the role. “[Leonard Nimoy] did not say one word to me for quite a long time, other than ‘Hello,’ because, I found out later, he had really, really pushed hard to have this be a double role, a dual role for him,” said Luckinbill. “I don’t know if this is absolutely true. That was the scuttlebutt and I got that from very high up in the food chain of information, that Leonard wanted to play Sybok and play Spock. That would have been a tremendous thing, to do that, but since they weren’t twins, they cast me. I think that Bill wanted a separate actor, and he was right. We were very different people.”
Although it took a while, Nimoy came around. “The best compliment I got was, in the last scenes, twenty or twenty-five weeks later, Leonard looked at me and said, ‘You know, you’re terrific in this.’ I thought that was a great send-off.”
Luckinbill is currently working on a one-man show, where he does “great Americans on stage, by myself, and [exploring] the issues they confronted. His current one-man show is The Abraham and Larry Show, which is his “take on Genesis…how Abraham arrived at the place he arrived at and what he did with Isaac.”