InterviewsTelevision & Film

The Bell Hasn't Tolled for Leonard Nimoy

On a conference call this morning, Leonard Nimoy talked about his return to Fringe and other projects he may (or may not) be involved with, most notably “The Big Bang Theory” and the new Trek.

After “retiring” about as many times as Brett Favre, Nimoy has returned to the role of William Bell in Fringe. The Bell character has a certain attraction for Nimoy, being a character that’s gone through different permutations, depending on which version of the multiverse we’re in. He says Fringe is a “wildly imaginative” show, and besides the Bell character, has a lot of fun working with this production.

Mostly identified with Spock, Nimoy has played other types of characters, and it’s the theatricality of a character that draws him into a project. Especially now that he’s semi-retired, the part has to appeal to that desire to play characters that have those qualities. He says he’s “a sucker for a good role” – calling the cast and crew atFringe “the most professional company I’ve ever worked with in sixty years.”

And now that Fringe has been picked up for another (final) season, Nimoy says he’s sure they’ll be talking about what could be in store for William Bell, even though there haven’t been any discussions yet.

The question of additional seasons is nothing new for science fiction shows, and Fringe certainly falls into the same category as the original Star Trek, having a schedule in the “death slot” on Friday night – even though now the show gets additional play in DVR (what would that have meant for Trek?) – and it’s gratifying that Fox has stuck with the show out of respect to the fan base, even though the ratings haven’t been exemplary.

(Of course, this also serves to highlight the fact that so many other science fiction shows have been cancelled by Fox, but that’s another discussion…)

The Bell character has undergone quite a bit of change from his first appearance. “You’re going to see some interesting activities on the part of William Bell,” he says of the season finale. The differences from season to season is what keeps bringing Nimoy back to the show. Discussions with the writers have given him a sense of where Bell lives in context of the story, and he’s interested in seeing where the show goes next.

“The character has become very exotic, is the best word I can come with at the moment. He’s got himself out on a limb, and doing some very strange and fantastic things with his powers.” He says he’s excited about seeing the scenes in the context of the show and seeing how audiences react.

Other projects:

As to his “appearance” on The Big Bang Theory – apparently The Napkin actually is a napkin he used. So the DNA of Leonard Nimoy is on that napkin – his portrayal of the Spock action figure in Sheldon’s dreams was the result of many years of discussions to figure out the logistics of getting him to make an appearance. Hmm. Does this allow for the possibility for another appearance in person?

Regarding Star Trek XII and rumors of Nimoy’s return to play Spock: “My theory is, they don’t need me. They’ve got a wonderful cast. Zachary Quinto has taken on the character of Spock and I think is wonderfully suited. He is a wonderful guy. He is a very intelligent actor. Very well trained. They’ve got a wonderful company of people replacing all of us. I don’t think they need me, frankly.”

Which is not a denial that he’s in the movie. Nor is it confirmation about anything related to his appearance (or not) in the new Trek.

[Leonard Nimoy’s photography site]

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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