Nimoy: TMP Wasn’t Really A Trek Movie


In a new interview on Hero Complex: The Show, Star Trek‘s Leonard Nimoy reminisces about: his work on Star Trek, Star Wars‘ influence on Star Trek, typecasting, A Woman Called Golda, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, Spock and Zachary Quinto, Amok Time and the genesis of the Vulcan greeting.

Nimoy began by explaining how the success of another science fiction movie led to Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

“I was doing Equus on Broadway in 1977, when I began hearing about this extraordinary success called Star Wars,” he said. “And on an afternoon off, when I was not working, I went down to Times Square and I walked in to a theater that was packed with cheering, screaming people watching this science fiction movie and I thought, ‘I think I’m going to be getting a call from Paramount pretty soon. Sure enough, within a few days, they called.”

However, the movie that was made as a result of the success of Star Wars, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, was not a critical success, and Nimoy believes this is because the film was more of a space film than a Star Trek film. “I think [Robert Wise] and Gene Roddenberry were looking for a space odyssey kind of film, kind of thing that [Stanley] Kubrick had done,” said Nimoy. “Kind of cold, cool, kind we’re out here in space and it’s quiet and things move very slowly. There was a lot of that and a lot of cerebral stuff. … It wasn’t a Star Trek movie, really. It had the Star Trek people, but it didn’t use us as Star Trek characters very well.

Nimoy also spoke about being typecast, but unlike some actors, he did not believe that typecasting was always a negative thing. “My feeling about typecasting is that it is a double-edged thing,” he said. “On the one hand, it can limit the roles you are being offered. On the other hand, it helps producers and directors to understand how to use you. It gives them a sense of how you might be useful to them. I have never been out of work since Star Trek went on the air so it’s worked well for me.”

At the end of the interview, don’t miss Nimoy’s imitation of a Shatner scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.


Source: Los Angeles Times Hero Complex

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  • Bass Guitar Hero

    Yeah, I did get a “2001: A Space Odyssey” vibe from TMP with the pacing of the movie and its long visual effect sequences.

  • Mark Lopa

    Me too. To this day, I have not been able to sit through “2001: A Space Odyssey” from beginning to end because it’s so darn slow. TMP is very much like that…agonizingly slow at times. When I heard they put in an extra 12 minutes for the video release and that it was mostly the Enterprise flying within the VGER cloud, I was like, “oh great…it will be even MORE boring!” LOL!

  • Tb2

    I must admit, I like TMP. Hear me out! – I am referring to the Directors cut version where Robert Wise put more characterisation in, and cleaned up the visuals. The fact the film does something a bit different works for me. Its not the strongest film overall, and some sequences do take too long. However its not Trek V or Nemesis either! The sequences of the Enterprise in Drydock are beautifully executed visually, and it was nice to have scenes with emotive lovely music. I am mildly surprised Mr Nimoy is iffy towards the film – Spock’s storyline is the centrepiece to making the whole V’Ger muguffin work, and adds to the character’s development!
    None of the Trek films are perfect. (Trek II, IV and Insurrection are my favourites) but TMP had something to offer. – That’s why we got more Trek.

    2001 A Space Odyssey? As a film, overrated crap. Not a bad book though.

  • Polaris01313-1

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say that 2001: A Space Odyssey(MGM, 1968) is overatted crap. Quite the contrary, Stanley Kubrick’s ground breaking science fiction film is a cinematic classic that changed the way the audience looked at sci-fi films and cinema in general, forever(i.e. the sets, costumes, production design, music, SFX, etc). Honestly, the late Sixties Cinema classic is a quantum leap in both the science fiction and cinematic arts.

    Loosely translated, 2001: A Space Odyssey is the greatest science fiction film ever made.

    If you want overrated crap, you need not look any furthur than Starship Farragut and Farragut Films’ upcoming production, Star Trek Continues. Especially after the controversial issues of last month concerning those two fan productions.

    All that aside, I, too enjoy The Director’s Edition of Star Trek-The Motion Picture(Paramount, 1979-2001). That version is what was meant to be originally seen. I’m glad that Paramount took a page out of George Lucas’ book and re-mastered and re-digitalized the film’s SFX and made some changes.

  • Indeed. I’ve tried and tried and I can’t make it through 2001. TMP is only endurable because of the Trek atmosphere and faces.

  • Slightly

    If a future movie could somehow reconcile mystery and exploration with faster pace and action, I’d be down for it. Aside from TMP, only TFF had our heroes truly explore, and even then only minimally. I recall someone suggesting our heroes visit a Red Matter Universe, which seems pretty interesting to me.

  • Kang the Unbalanced

    Yes, the Director’s Cut of TMP greatly improves the pacing, which was really the biggest flaw of the film. The fat and the “we paid for it-we want it onscreen” overlong effects shots are neatly pared away, which lets the very Treklike character interaction show through.
    I think this is a great interview, but I have to disagree with Mr. Nimoy and say that TMP is VERY Trek, just on a much grander scale. It’s definitely much truer to the original spirit than some horrible “fan” productions we are too polite to name.

  • Kang the Unbalanced

    2001 is much more enjoyable with the assistance of the recreational drug of your choice. That slitscan trip through the stargate at the end is damn near unbearable, and even though I will sit rapt through the longest of the beautifully shot space sequences, I have to fast forward through that mock-psychedelic bullshit stargate trip.
    The director’s cut of TMP is a VAST improvement, and will restore your faith in Robert Wise as a director.

  • Jonathon Carter Schall

    Not a STAR TREK movie?! Didn’t utilize the characters well?! The strongest character arc in the film is SPOCK’s! It’s SPOCK’S movie!

  • Knowles2

    Personally I disagree, I think The motion picture is the most star trek film ever made, star trek is about exploration and discovery. The others tried to be more star wars clones more interested in explosions and war than exploration, especially JJ Albrams film but most of the others as well.

  • Polaris01313-1

    I wouldn’t say that the Stargate sequence from 2001 was mock-psychedelic bullshit. Let alone unbearable. It was very innovative and spectacular for its time. And it still holds up well nearly forty-five years later.

    Douglas Trumbull, who did the SFX on 2001 also did the SFX on TMP.

  • Marycarelli

    He will be going to a new frontier and God will be at the helm this time. Beam him up and let his light shine.