Nimoy Discusses Directing CareerBy Michelle
February 11, 2007 - 7:40 PM
Leonard Nimoy (Spock) traced his career from his origins in Boston to his current interest in photography, saying that it took him a long time to accept that invitations to direct were not suggestions that he was failing as an actor.
Speaking to Fat Free Film, Nimoy said that he decided he wanted to be an actor while performing in a local theater in Boston where he played a character who like himself was Jewish, a member of a multi-generational family. "I decided I wanted to do this kind of work as a career," he recalled. Moving to California, he studied at the Pasadena Playhouse before a two-year stint in the army. When he returned, he directed and acted for the stage - at times directing himself, such as when he played Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Noting that directors like Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood have been very successful acting in films they also directed, Nimoy said that he admired their stamina but did not enjoy that process very much. "If you know your persona and your character...that makes it easier," he explained. "In my case, when I started directing films, which was never my intention by the way - I sort of backed into it - I was doing Spock...I had the additional burden of a two-hour makeup job. If I had to get to work at 7 a.m. as a director, I had to go to work at 5 a.m."
Nimoy explained that his first cinematic directing job was at the invitation of a friend who produced television. He had always been concerned when he was told that he should direct that it was something of an insult to his acting career, but he found the experience interesting. Then, when he was invited to appear as a guest on William Shatner's T.J. Hooker, he asked for the opportunity to direct.
"[Paramount] asked me whether I would like to be involved in Star Trek III," he recalled, after Spock had died at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Nimoy told his agent, "'I'd like to use this opportunity to expand my career.'" He argued that with all respect to previous Star Trek film directors Robert Wise and Nicholas Meyer, he thought he knew the Star Trek franchise well enough to do a good job.
Because The Search for Spock was a success, Nimoy was then invited to direct Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and after that, Three Men and a Baby, a comedy which was a commercial hit and brought him more opportunities. But after six films, Nimoy admitted, "I had had enough. I just didn't want to do it anymore...my life had changed, my needs had changed, my interests had changed."
The full interview is at Fat Free Film.