The new documentary about the life and career of Leonard Nimoy, For the Love of Spock, began as a collaboration between Leonard and his son Adam Nimoy. Their original concept was to explore the character of Spock, but Leonard’s passing in 2015 prompted Adam to change the focus of the film.
“After my dad passed away, there was such an outpouring of emotion from everywhere,” Nimoy says in Episode 218 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It became clear that we needed to expand the film to include his life and legacy as well.”
For the Love of Spock doesn’t hide the fact that Adam’s relationship with his father was sometimes strained, a fact that Adam revealed in his 2008 memoir My Incredibly Wonderful, Miserable Life. That book made some Star Trek fans apprehensive about the documentary, but Adam explains that he and his father had reconciled in recent years.
“My dad and I had a very loving and connected relationship the last four or five years of his life,” Adam says. “And I felt like I was going to do justice to our relationship by being the guy to make the film.”
For years Adam struggled to assert his own identity, to be known as something other than “Leonard Nimoy’s son,” and that led him to avoid Star Trek conventions. But he says that making For the Love of Spock, out Sept. 9, helped him let go of his hang-ups and connect with the broader community of Star Trek fans.
“Now that I’m contributing something to the Star Trek liturgy–the lore, the phenomenon–my own contribution, I feel like I’ve earned my place at the table a little bit, and I’m much more comfortable showing up at the conventions,” he says.
For the Love of Spock is just one of many recent tributes to Leonard Nimoy. He was memorialized in the feature film Star Trek Beyond, and he continues to be a pop culture fixture thanks to TV shows like The Big Bang Theory.
“When the president of the United States issues a press release on the passing of Leonard Nimoy–about his love of Spock–that’s a pretty powerful statement about the impact of Leonard Nimoy,” Adam says.
Listen to our complete interview with Adam Nimoy in Episode 218 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Adam Nimoy on his father’s talents:
“It’s still uncanny to me how he managed to know how to do all of this. He was building furniture for our home. I mean, where did he learn these things? … He had an incredible mind for numbers and business. His business manager said that my dad was probably the only client who really understood what he was doing in terms of all the investment strategy. … He was working in a card shop, he sold newspapers in the Boston Common, he was folding chairs at the Boston Pops. I mean, this guy did everything. When he was in LA, he was selling freezers and working in pet shops and setting up fish tanks and driving a cab. He scooped ice cream, he managed an apartment, he did everything. There’s nothing that he couldn’t do or that was beneath him.”
Adam Nimoy on I Am Not Spock:
“He didn’t mean to distance himself from the character, didn’t mean to diss the character, he was just trying to let people know, ‘My name is Leonard Nimoy, and I do not come from Vulcan.’ … It was just mis-interpreted, a lot of people saw the title and didn’t read the book. … People wanted more Star Trek, and they thought the reason why they were not getting more Star Trek–either a new series or a feature film or whatever–they thought they weren’t getting it because Leonard Nimoy didn’t want to play Spock any more. And the fans reacted negatively. Dad told me he got a lot of angry fan mail, a lot of really heavy anger directed toward him, which didn’t really dissipate until the first feature came out.”
Adam Nimoy on celebrity families:
“There’s all this heat, on the family, all this sunshine, all this attention, and you’re in it, you’re just kind of bathing in this warmth, in this glow. But it’s not you, it’s not me, it’s him. … So the real challenge is to find out who I am, and break away from that, and have an understanding that we’re separate people and I have to create my own identity. And it takes a lot to really focus on doing what I wanted to do, and pursue something I wanted to do, which was to do almost anything that he couldn’t do–which was almost nothing. You know, Leonard could do anything. And that was another motivating factor for me to go to college and go to law school, frankly, because it was something that Leonard was not inclined to do, and I felt a real sense of pride that I could create my own identity apart from him.”
Adam Nimoy on his father’s legacy:
“The cast that we interviewed up in Vancouver–of [Star Trek Beyond]–were absolutely, uniformly emphatic that my dad participating in this new incarnation of Star Trek–with the first film, Star Trek, and then Into Darkness–really gave them a sense that they were continuing a tradition. … There was a passing of this kind of spirituality that my dad–and that Spock–brought to the whole project. … And that just kind of blew my mind. It’s like, wow, he had that kind of impact on people where he’s still resonating. Even though he’s gone, he’s still very much around. And everybody on the new cast wanted to make that clear to me, that he’s still very present among them all, and inspiring them to do great work.”