Monday, April 6, 2009

Meet Mr. Spock

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Zachary Quinto talked becoming Spock.
His voice is calm, without noticeable inflection, and the only way to detect emphasis is when he slows his delivery, as in "I really just don't care about that stuff."

"That stuff" is the meticulous planning, marketing and control of the re-launch of the Star Trek franchise, the first stage of which is this $US150 million ($218.5 million) movie, Star Trek, or, as Nimoy archly put it in an interview, "Kirk, When He Was Thin".

Leonard Nimoy's first memoir was called I Am Not Spock. "There were a lot of emotional crosscurrents operating for me at this time," he wrote. "Obviously, the work being offered was coming as a direct result of my impact as Mr Spock. On the other hand, I was involved in something of a crusade to develop a reputation as an actor with some range.

"At this point I went through a definite identity crisis. The question was whether to embrace Mr Spock or to fight the onslaught of public interest. I realise now that I really had no choice in the matter. "Spock and Star Trek were very much alive and there wasn't anything that I could do to change that."

Four decades later, Quinto doubts that Nimoy's fate, wed at first unhappily but finally comfortably to the character of Spock, will be his. "No matter how well this film is received and how favourably people take to my work in it, I'm not going to be credited with originating this role," Quinto says. "I also think the stigmas are diminished in this day and age. Science fiction doesn't have the same associations that it did 40 years ago and I don't think people have the same attention spans as they did 40 years ago. Those factors weighed in on Leonard's almost inextricable association with this character as an actor. I don't necessarily feel that will be the case. People are more eager to be distracted. People get uncomfortable with settling their focus on one thing for too long. Our industry is both an example of that and to a certain extent responsible for that."

They were filming at a cemetery. Towards the end of the day, Abrams, the director, showed Quinto some images on his iPhone. They were long-range shots, taken earlier that same day, of the two talking - Quinto in his Spock costume - and then uploaded to a celebrity website. Subsequently, cast members were ordered to wear costume-covering ponchos when walking to or from the set. For extended journeys from trailer to set, they would ride in a shrouded golf cart. "It's indicative of people's insatiable appetite for what they want and when they want it," Quinto says. "That wouldn't have been a problem 15-20 years ago. It's a relentless and insidious sort of energy."

"Having to shave [the eyebrows] every day, having my hair in this horrible bowl cut, I felt sort of alienated from myself and alienated from other people," Quinto says. "I never went out of the house without big chunky glasses on, and a hat. I tended to isolate a lot more during the process of the film." He gladly disconnected from Spock once filming had been completed. "I remember letting it all hang out and thinking: 'I look like such a dork.' My hair was growing out, my eyebrows were stubbly and I didn't care at all. It was an awakening, an emergence from something. I started going out more and having a good time."

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