For the Love of Spock (2016)

Action, Biography, Documentary
Winona Ryder, Liam Neeson, Christopher Lloyd, Karl Urban
The film looks at the life and career of actor Leonard Nimoy, and his iconic character Mr. Spock. It includes interviews with cast, crew and people connected with Star Trek, fans at conventions, as well as personal memories.Nimoy died at the age of 83. The documentary was a tribute film produced and shot by Nimoy's son, Adam. Adam started the project before Leonard died. Leonard died of lung cancer after 30 years of smoking. He was from Boston, but worked in LA for 17 yrs. He came to California in 1949 to make a career in acting. Leonard's parents were not supportive of his career choice of becoming an actor and refused to support him in anyway. His brother Mel survives him.Adam's mom was an aspiring housewife who met Leonard backstage at a Hollywood studio and gave up her acting career to be a housewife. They had a girl, Julie, in 55 and Adam in 56. Leonard did all sorts of jobs in the 60's to support his family. Setting up fish tanks, selling freezers, pet stores, drove a cab, took care of aquariums, vending machines, ice cream parlor, and managing apartment buildings.He also did a series of small acting parts in movies and TV series through 50's and 60's. He was noticed by Gene Roddenberry who had a role in mind for Leonard in a pilot for a sci-fi series. Prior to Star Trek, Leonard never had a job for more than 2 weeks. And Gene offered him the part in their first meeting.The studio had contracted an external company for special effects, which included Spock's ears. But they could not deliver and Freddie Philips, Leonard's make up guy, had to step in at the last minute to fix the ears that became central to Spock's character for generations. NCB did not buy the first pilot. They found it too "cerebral". They agreed to a 2nd pilot and advised Gene to replace the entire cast, including Leonard. But Gene stuck to Leonard. Also in their promo pamphlet, NBC decided to straighten Spock's eyebrows and soften its pointed ears as they felt their audience in the bible belt won't accept a character that looked like the Satan. Interviews of William Shatner, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Jim Parsons, Jason Alexander, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and J.J. Abrams.The new cast included William Shatner as Captain Kirk. Leonard believes that the playfulness of William allowed Spock to play the more serious character, something that he was unable to do with William's predecessor Jeff Hunter (who was a quieter actor). The triumvirate between McCoy, Spock and Kirk worked brilliantly and NBC loved the 2nd pilot. The first season was shot in 1966. Variety mag said in its first review that Star Trek won't work.Leonard played Spock as a Vulcan who tried to keep his emotions in check & not as a Vulcan who had no emotions. Plus, in the internal character tension, he adopted a minimalist style of acting (hand movements and such), so that when he did react, it became a very big deal. Many fans identified with Spock as he was the outsider on a ship crewed by humans. and everybody feels like an outsider sometimes.It was Spock who came up with the ideas for the Vulcan finger hold and the mind melds and the famous Vulcan greeting "Live Long and Prosper" (this was an adoption of a Jewish religious salute which Leonard picked up in his childhood). Pretty soon sacks of fan mail started arriving at Leonard's doorsteps, along with fans themselves, who wanted to meet Spock. There was a natural competition between William and Leonard, but Roddeberry explained to William that if Spock was popular that meant Kirk was popular and which meant that the show was popular, which is what everyone wanted. From that point on, William was OK with Spock's popularity. Women found Spock's silence, oddly attractive.NBC failed to support the show for a fourth season. Leonard did a stint with the Mission Impossible series but left when he got bored. Did a part in "Fiddler on the Roof". 70's was the decade of theatre work for Leonard, along with several episodes hosting "in search of". In 1973 NBC decided to do an animated series of Star Trek but invited only 4 people from the original cast for the voices. Leonard refused unless the entire cast was re-hired. Some fans created a video of the hidden gay attraction between Spock and Kirk. Spock started going to conventions and always had time for his fans. Adam Nimoy was a lawyer, but the job was not fulfilling to him. Leonard helped him make a career change into direction.After the show was canceled, NBC had no legal right to use Leonard picture for commercial branding purposes. But NBC continued to do so for 10 years & didn't pay Leonard for 5 of those 10 years. In 1975 Leonard sued paramount. At the same time Paramount decided to do Star Trek The Motion Picture, and Leonard won't sign till Paramount settled the lawsuit. Ultimately the studio settled.The script for the first movie was bad. The focus shifted from being a character-oriented series to an effects oriented movie. In Star Trek II, Spock was lured by the promise of the "best death scene ever". Spock thought it was the end of Star Trek and accepted the role. But after the end, Paramount approached him for another one and Leonard bargained with them to direct the third movie. he got it, but not happy as the studio kept a tight leash on Leonard. So, the fourth movie, Leonard asked to be a director with creative liberty & was granted the permission to make his own Star Trek movie (the one about the whale sounds).Then Leonard directed Three Men and a Baby, and it was major hit. But the next movie "The Good Mother" bombed big time at the box office. Leonard started drinking heavily. in 1989 he married Susan, his 2nd wife and was really happy and decided to go into his own recovery from his drinking addiction. Then JJ Abrams came along and reset the star Trek franchise and offered Leonard a role in it. Leonard was supportive and gave it his best. Adam and Leonard fell out with each other during the 90's when Adam basically took to pot & became a hippie. Even in the 2000's they were completely estranged from one another. Adam had just ended an 18-year marriage and was at a low point of his life. In 2008, he reconnected with Leonard and later married Martha. 5 months after the wedding, Martha was diagnosed with cancer and Leonard supported him fully. Leonard died in 2015.
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