EXCLUSIVE: Adam Nimoy Talks ‘For the Love of Spock,’ His Father’s Legacy

By June 27, 2015

Earlier this year, millions of fans across the world lost one of the most iconic figures in all of science fiction: actor Leonard Nimoy, who played the definitive role of Spock on multiple iterations of the Star Trek franchise, passed away at the age of 83. Although fans expressed mourning at the loss of one of their most revered performers, a family also had to struggle with the loss of more than an actor: they lost a mentor, a grandfather, and a father. Now, the son of the man who brought Spock to life wants to celebrate the iconic character, and more importantly, the man who brought him to life, in a new documentary project in its final days of Kickstarter funding.

We recently had the opportunity to speak to Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard and director of the upcoming project, about Star Trek, Spock, and the life and legacy left behind by the multi-talented artist who brought that iconic Vulcan to life for so long. One of the major elements that became very clear over the time we spoke to Mr. Nimoy was the passion to give Star Trek fans a new perspective on what the man was like who embodied the show’s most iconic character for nearly fifty years. That in and of itself was a big part of the desire to make this, he told us, since Star Trek is closely approaching its fiftieth anniversary next year. It also became clear, though, that Spock and Star Trek meant a lot for Adam as he was growing up, since it changed the lives of his entire family rather quickly.

By the end of September of ’66, which is only three or four weeks after they first aired, they aired “The Naked Time” episode where Spock has a breakdown, and the mail started coming right away! And then, some reporter accidentally put our home address in Sixteen magazine, which was a huge teen magazine at the time, for his fan mail. So we were inundated with this stuff. So there were these stacks of mail that came, and we answered it! That was like our family gathering activity, and we answered that mail. At first it’s kind of fun and interesting getting letters from all over the place, and then it’s just like, “I’ve got other things to do.” (laughs)

Adam and Leonard Nimoy talking during Leonard Nimoy's Boston, a half-hour documentary directed by Adam about his father's life growing up in the Massachusetts city.

Adam and Leonard Nimoy talking during Leonard Nimoy’s Boston, a half-hour documentary directed by Adam about his father’s life growing up in the Massachusetts city.

Nimoy also discussed the struggles of going out in public with his father, who during the production of the series, wore that distinctive bowl haircut. Going to restaurants was sometimes a struggle, and even trying to spend time at a church carnival resulted in Adam and his father having to leave “immediately.” Beyond this, though, Adam says that his father focused a lot on his career, which made it something of a struggle to live with him in his younger years.

A lot of what I went through, other people went through because they had successful parents. Not necessarily celebrity parents, but a lot of the things I went through with my dad as a workaholic, and the ups and downs in our relationship, and trying to reconnect with one another, and dealing with him in conflict as a teenager when he’s a pop culture icon. It’s a really tough gig! Especially for a kid, because millions of Star Trek fans can’t be wrong. How could I be right? How could I call him out on something? And, I’ve talked about this as well, but we both had to do some major recovery work. And I mean 12-step and sober recovery, and work on ourselves, because we were estranged for a number of years.

Thankfully, though, Adam details that though his dad “majored in career and minored in family” for a long time, his final years were focused on those closest to him.

Well, one of the major things [that I'd like people to know] is that he was a family man at the end, and that was very important to him. We had a lot of family dinners together with him, and my stepmom, his second wife Susan. We spent a lot of time at their house. My sister and I, and my stepbrother Aaron, my sister’s kids, and my kids. And we all got along, there was a lot of love, and a lot of connections. It made him really happy that that’s the way things ended up, we were a very unified family. That’s important.

Adam with his father on the set of "Star Trek."

Adam with his father on the set of “Star Trek.”

Any difficulties that Adam may have had with his father, though, haven’t soured him to Star Trek or its fans. In fact, this project is a love letter to the franchise that made his father famous, as well as to the people who have showed so much love for Spock over the past five decades. Still, while the project was initially going to focus just on Spock and Star Trek, Adam recognized that he had a unique opportunity to share what his father was like when he wasn’t wearing the iconic ears.

The thing is that the more we moved along with the project, and the more people that came on to help me and advise me with it, from producers and the crowdfunding people that we’ve talked to among others, they said more and more that I needed to interject my own personal views and experience of what happened, because that’s what makes the film unique. No one else can tell that story but me. And that’s going to be the third element, after Spock and Leonard Nimoy, of the experience of living with Spock and Leonard Nimoy as a father, and the experience of Star Trek’s influence on our family. So that gives the project something new and unique that has not been done before, and no one else can do but me.

And the unique connection that Adam has with the beloved science fiction franchise isn’t lost on him, either. He knows how cool it was to be able to walk through the corridors and nerve center of the original Starship Enterprise.

…in terms of walking the sets, it was FANTASTIC! Just fantastic. What really amazed me was that the corridors ended pretty quickly, it wasn’t like they built mazes and mazes of this stuff. There were just pieces and pieces all over the soundstage. But to be on the bridge was so exciting, the look, and the feel and the smell, it was such good make believe. They did just enough to sell the idea for what it was, and made enough corridors, crew quarters, sickbay, the bridge, conference rooms…it was just enough to sell it as this huge space vehicle. So, I was kind of amazed that it was in bits and pieces over the stage, but it was really, really cool to be on it while they were shooting. Watching them make this stuff firsthand was like a stage play to me. That was very exciting, so it was just a great ride.

Leonard Nimoy with several "Star Trek" friends receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in January of 1985.

Leonard Nimoy with several “Star Trek” friends receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in January of 1985.

With only four days left in the Kickstarter campaign to make the film, Adam wants to appeal to the people who love Star Trek, respect his father, and want to see a new perspective on both.

The big shock of this whole journey to me is that, here we are with four days left, and we’re $90,000 short. We still think we can make that, with your help, and it’s typical of these campaigns that people jump in at the last minute, but we were a little surprised that we had to really, really struggle over these past four weeks. We’re sitting on the edge, wondering what it is that’s holding people back from joining us on this journey. [...] Please, to anyone that plans on helping out with this project, please don’t wait until the 11th hour. We really need as much support as we can get, as soon as possible.

You can head over to the official Kickstarter page for For the Love of Spock, where you can see a generous set of rewards for backers, and get more perspective from Mr. Nimoy himself on what the aims of the film will be. And again, there are only a few days remaining, and every second counts, so if you have the means then please help them out. Especially if you want to learn more about the man and icon behind one of science fiction’s most enduring sets of stories.

Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.