I Am Spock

Monday, May 3, 2010

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Many times actors are distant from the majority of their fans. You might read about them in the tabloids. Hear about their golden moments and disgraceful fumbles on the gossip shows. Catch sniping from disgruntled fans about perceived rudeness on some forum. But for the most part, you don't hear about them hobnobbing with the general public.

Leonard Nimoy is not one of those actors.

Along with most of his former cast members, Nimoy is one of those people I would simply like to know, all fame aside. To have as one of my friends. He has done the convention circuit for years, putting him in reach of thousands of fans, maybe more. And not only is he approachable, he is a fascinating person. I've had his book I Am Spock for almost as long as it's been out. A recommended read for any of his fans.

This personal view behind the scenes begins with a foreward from Spock, his alter ego, which alludes to Nimoy's previous book entitled I Am Not Spock, a book title that led to ire from his fans, since his fame was in large part due to playing the role of a certain pointy eared alien. Spock is a fictional character, not real in the literal sense. But in the minds and hearts of fans everywhere, Spock is a very real and special person, fully developed over time into his own entity. Nimoy simply intended to show the duality that while he was not Spock, at the same time he was, because that was how people knew him.

This memoir touches on unintentional parallels between himself and Spock such as the reaction they faced when informing their parents of their career plans. Spock is as much his creation as it was Gene Roddenberry. He offered input to whether an action or reaction would be something Spock would do. It is only natural that his character is a sort of mirror to a deeper side of the actor.

Regaling us with anecdotes, including those regarding his fellow ST cast members, he lets us see what it was like to play that role, to help shape it, and to try to move beyond it once the show was canceled. Somehow, each time he thought he was done with playing Spock, another opportunity would beckon. First movies I-VI, then returning as a guest character on ST:NG. Through it all, he sustained his character's integrity.

He wraps up the book with his choice to decline a cameo role on the movie Generations and his current view that Spock was indeed a part of him, a part that had come to mean more than he had ever expected.

Throughout the book, there are mini conversations between himself and Spock regarding various memories and interpretations of those events, plus looking ahead. I think it makes an interesting illustration to how a character can become so dynamic that it doesn't matter that the character is a work of fiction. Spock is a part of him, deeply enough that he can draw on that perspective in spontaneous ways.

Even if you are not a dedicated fan of Star Trek, I think you would enjoy reading this view from the other side of the camera, including both fun times and rough patches. Check out this personal account from one amazing actor.


Emily White said...

What I find most interesting his how Nimoy handled his type-cast. A lot of actors are crushed when this happens (Luke Skywalker anyone?), but Nimoy embraced it and turned it into a lifelong career.

I'll have to put this book on my list. Thanks, Jaleh!

Jai Joshi said...

I'm going to have to check out of this book. I've always been a fan of Spock even if I haven't always enjoyed the Star Trek show. Spock is special.

I also love Leonard Nimoy's bone structure. He's got the hottest cheek bones!


Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

I can't wait to read this book now. It's funny though. I was watching the first season of "Bones" and the two lead actors did a commentary on an episode and I actually had to turn it off. I don't think they meant to but they came off fairly vapid and shallow and their characters on the show are not. I know they are not the characters, but I really want to hear on these commentaries more about how they view the character and if it has changed them in anyway to play that role, etc. I want a behind the scenes of the show, not necessarily of what is going on their lives. Silly I know~!

I loved the new Star Trek movie and loved his appearance in that!

Jaleh D said...

It is interesting to see how acting can change your life so dramatically. Nimoy did try to put his character behind him for awhile, doing acting and directing roles. (He directed Three Men and a Baby. Just a bit of random trivia.)

But with so much fan support, he finally embraced the role. I don't think he got far from Spock, even when he was trying. (And he does have great cheekbones. ;) )

Nice to see a new face here. Welcome to the dragon's library. Hope you enjoy ambling among the shelves.

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