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Metamorphosis - Leonard nimoy I am not spock introduction


Metamorphosis



For three years, twelve hours a day, five days a week, approximately ten months of each year, I functioned as an extraterrestrial.
Many people have had some experience with role playing. Some people have had more experience than I; some people have played a particular role longer than I. But given my intense commitment to the identification with this role, and given the unique nature of this extraterrestrial, there may be some value in reassembling the experience.
Six years after having completed the role, I am still affected by the character of Spock, the Vulcan First Officer and Science Officer of the Starship Enterprise. Of course, the role changed my career. Or rather, gave me one. It made me wealthy by most standards and opened up vast opportunities. It also affected me very deeply and personally, socially, psychologically, emotionally. To this day I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior.
What started out as a welcome job to a hungry actor, has become a constant and ongoing influence in my thinking and lifestyle.
In 1965, Gene Roddenberry was producing a TV series for NEC titled ^ The Lieutenant. It starred Gary Lockwood and had to do with his adventures as a Marine Corps officer. My agent at that time, Alex Brewis, had submitted me for a guest starring role.
The feeling of the director and the casting people, was that I was not suitable for the role. The character was a very garrulous individual who was a Hollywood motion picture star wanting to make a movie about the Marine Corps.
Prior to that time, the major roles that I had had were rather internal whereas this one called for a very outgoing externalized performance. To my agent's credit, he persisted and Marc Daniels, the director of the episode, agreed to interview me and let me read a scene for him. In a very brief meeting which lasted no longer than ten minutes I read for Marc, and he agreed that I could do the role, and I was hired. That same director, Marc Daniels, was to become a very good friend and a director of a large number of our Star Trek episodes.
When the episode was finished, Gene Roddenberry commented to my agent that he was writing a script for a science fiction TV series and he had a role that he wanted me to play. My agent reported this to me but I didn't pay much attention, assuming it would be some time before the script reached the production stage and it was silly to raise my hopes.
However, several months later Gene did call and a meeting was arranged. At that first meeting it was my assumption that I was being interviewed for the role. Gene's conversation threw me off balance because he seemed to be selling me on the idea of working in his series. He took the trouble to walk me through the prop department and the scenic design shop to show me the nature of the work that was being done for the series. Above all he seemed to be trying to impress upon me the fact that this series was being very carefully prepared and that it would be indeed something special to television.
I was so excited at the prospect of getting a steady job on a television series that I tried very hard to keep my mouth shut. I felt that the more I talked the more chance there was of talking myself out of what could be steady work. I left Gene's office very excited and expected negotiations to begin. Several days passed during which I wondered if perhaps I had said something wrong in my meeting with Gene. Then the phone call came and my agent informed me that we had run into a slight catch. Gene wanted to see some film of other performances that I had done "in order to know how to best write the role for me."
This sounded like a very nice way of checking further into my acting capabilities to determine whether or not in fact I was to be given the role.
We agreed to show a film which was a performance that I had done on a Dr. Kildare episode, a couple of years previous. This particular film was chosen because it was quite the opposite of the boisterous character that I had played on The Lieutenant show. Gene saw the film and then negotiations did indeed move ahead. He later told me that he was extremely impressed with the Kildare performance and that he had actually seen it when it was first televised. He flattered me by telling me that he was not aware that the actor in that case and the actor in his show were one and the same. The range of performance was so different.
So in fact the die was cast and I was to become Mr. Spock, son of Sarek, the Vulcan, and Amanda, the Earth scientist, in the science fiction adventure series called Star Trek.
Roddenberry and I had numerous meetings to discuss the nature of the character and his background. The Vulcans had been a violent and emotional people, which almost led to their destruction. They made a decision. Thenceforth emotion was to be foreign to the Vulcan nature. Logic would rule. Vulcans would be distinguished in appearance by their skin color, hair style and pointed ears, a race concerned with dignity and progress, incorporating the culture and ritual of the past with the best of what the future could offer. In Spock there would be a special mixture of tensions. The logic and emotional suppression of the Vulcan people through the father, Sarek, pitted against the emotional and humanistic traits inherited from the human mother, Amanda.
These were rich beginnings for a TV character and especially challenging for an actor whose idols were Lon Chancy and Paul Muni, both great character actors of the past, but I had mixed feelings about it. At this point my career wasn't exactly what one would call extraordinary, but I was making a living as an actor and as a teacher. Most important, I took a great pride in my reputation as a solid character actor. I had reached the point where I was able to be somewhat selective about the roles I played, accepting only those which I thought had merit and offered opportunities to play dimensional people. As yet, I had not read a Star Trek script. I was very much concerned about the possibility of getting involved in what might turn out to be a "mickey mouse" character. I felt it could be a ludicrous adventure, possibly leading to embarrassment for myself and the other people involved.
I discussed the problems with Vie Morrow, an actor whose talent and judgment I respected. Vie and I went through the pros and cons of the situation and even at one point touched on the possibility of devising a make-up that would be so complete that Leonard Nimoy would be totally unrecognizable. In this way I could do the job, earn the money and avoid the dangers of being connected with a ludicrous character.
Of course, it didn't work out that way and I am very happy with the way the matter resolved itself. But, to this day, I still think it might have been fun to have played that character totally hidden and be totally mysterious and unavailable in my private life. It could have been the put-on of the century. Just imagine the headlines in the newspapers and magazines:
^ ACTUAL ALIEN AGREES TO APPEAR IN SCIENCE FICTION TV SERIES.
In any case, I finally decided to plunge in and make a commitment. Gene Roddenberry and I shook hands on our deal with mutual good faith and excitement. We were giving birth to an extraterrestrial.
The first physical labor pains took place in a make-up room at the Desilu Studios in Hollywood. I sat down in front of a mirror, and Lee Greenway, a durable make-up man and old acquaintance from ^ Kid Monk Baroni, started to experiment with an admittedly crude application of the first pair of pointed ears. They were "built-up" with layers of paper tissue and liquid latex, never expected to be acceptable but only to give an indication of what the effect might be. Well, it was as bizarre as the result of a child playing with her mother's make-up. It was gruesome, ludicrous and very depressing. Roddenberry and Herb Solow, head of television production at the studio, asked my permission to run some video tape on me, to be studied in the projection room. I agreed and was led onto the stage of I Love Lucy. Fortunately the audience had not arrived for the day's taping. But the crew, 15 or 20 craftsmen, was asked to light me and run some footage.
The results were painful. Had the make-up been complete, the wardrobe present, the character fully realized, it would have been difficult. Under the circumstances, dressed in very casual street clothes with a crude pair of pointed ears, in the context of the I Love Lucy set, it was, to say the least, painful. And yet, here it was, the beginning of the public exposure of the extraterrestrial.
I found myself taking mental notes. Storing away emo­tional memories which might someday be useful in the role. Those feelings of being alien, almost to the point of being ridiculous. Knowing that each of these people would be composing clever lines of dialogue to exchange after I had gone. These were the real seeds from which the emotional structure of Spock would grow.
I was moving into the world of an extraterrestrial. Already I could feel myself building defenses, attempting to elevate my thinking above and beyond a concern for the opinion of mere humans. I was of another realm and they could think what they would.
Several weeks later, I would have a similar experience during the first day of shooting on the pilot film. Fully wardrobed in the uniform prescribed by Starfleet, and in full make-up, I stepped onto the sound stage at the studio for the first time. This time, at least in a physical sense, the character was complete.
My agent was there to greet me. With him was a lovely female client. Her reaction was startling. She was open and obvious in her interest, and gave me my first exposure to the generous and gratifying female reaction which was to come, synthesized in Dr. Isaac Asimov's later description of Spock as "a security blanket with sexual overtones."

I should pause at this point and give some credit where it is due. Between the time that Lee Greenway first applied that crude pair of ears and the time we were ready to actually start shooting the pilot, we walked some dangerous paths. Making a proper appliance like a pair of ears that is believable is a very sophisticated and special task. The studio, Desilu at that time, had contracted with a special effects company who were to design and build most of the special gear for creatures on various planets, such as the strange and grotesque heads and foam latex suits and so forth—the type of thing that was seen in the show called "Arena" where Bill Shatner fought a creature called a Gorn. They were asked, among other things, to prepare my ears for the pilot.
There is a vast difference between the type of work they were to do, which would completely cover a man's head or body, and the very delicate appliance work that was necessary for the ears. They went through the necessary procedures much as any make-up or appliance artist would do. A plaster cast was made of the particular feature, in this case my own ears, then a "positive" reproduction was made by pouring a hardening solution into that cast, so that when it was removed they had, in effect, a perfect replica of my own ears. Then an artist built up the tips of the top edge of the ear with putty which became, in effect, the "appliance," which eventually was used. This putty tip then was cast in plaster to make a mold. Eventually foam rubber of a very delicate nature was poured into that mold and what emerged was a pair of foam rubber tips to be applied to my ears.
The first pair was delivered to the studio and Fred Phillips, who was in charge of the make-up department for the series, applied them and they looked pretty bad. We showed them to Gene Roddenberry and others involved, and they too agreed that another effort should be made. This same company then proceeded to try again on two or three occasions and the results were simply not right. Fred explained to me that these people were not specialists in this particular field. The problem was that the studio, having contracted with them to do all of the special effect work in this area, wanted these people to deliver the appliances. To go to another source would mean an additional cost which the studio was anxious to avoid.
Time was running out. Within a few days we would begin to shoot the series, and the ears were simply not right. It was at this point that I went to Gene Roddenberry and told him that we had a serious problem. The eyebrows, by this time, were taking shape, the haircut was evolving, the skin tone had been arrived at, and I felt that perhaps we had best avoid the ears since we were running into so much trouble.
It's somewhat legendary now that Gene did in fact insist that we should continue to try to solve the "ear problem." In this conversation he told me that he felt that it was vital to maintain one's own original ideas rather than see them washed away in compromise because of temporary difficulties. He also promised me that we would do thirteen episodes with these ears and that if I wasn't happy he would write a script where Mr. Spock got an "ear job."
About three days before the pilot was to be shot, Fred Phillips had reached the point of desperation. He took it upon himself without consulting the studio to take me to the lab of a specialist in delicate appliance work. The procedure started all over again. The plaster cast, the mold, the designing of the tips, the casting, etc., and within about thirty-six hours a pair of ears arrived which were to Fred's satisfaction. These then were the ears which were first used for the original Star Trek pilot. To this day, I am most grateful to Fred Phillips for knowing the difference between what was wrong and what was right and having the guts to do something about it. Had he not made that decision the Spock character could have been a comic disaster from the start.
So it began. I went to work and played the scenes. Said the lines. Groping and learning to walk, talk, function as an alien. Putting out the sounds and motions and watching, recording the feedback of my fellow actors, crew personnel and visitors. It was difficult for a long time. The total understanding of the character would only be found in the total context. This rigid pointed-eared creature was only a visual gimmick until perceived as a part of a whole: the particular story we were filming, the ship, the crew, the antagonists, the entire buildup of another world, another time. Taken alone, in bits and pieces, out of context, it was still dangerously close to a joke.
Nevertheless, I began to feel more comfortable. I could understand my place, my function in the stories, my relationship to the other characters. A sense of dignity began to evolve. I took a pride in being different and unique.
Above all, I began to study human behavior from an alien point of view. I began to enjoy the Vulcan position. "These humans are interesting, at times a sad lot, at times foolish, but interesting and worthy of study."
The scripts, particularly the character of Dr. McCoy, the humanist, offered opportunities to deal with the human need to see everything and others only in relation to themselves. "Anybody who isn't like us is strange. Anybody who doesn't want to be like us is a fool."
I was becoming alienated, and didn't realize it. My attitude toward the humans around me became quite paternal. In some respects I assumed the position of teacher, or role model. My hope was that we could reduce inefficiency and silly emotionalism if I set examples through my higher standards of discipline and precision.
"Nature abhors a vacuum." I showed little or no emotional response, so my co-workers and associates projected responses for me. For example, this quote from a co-worker passed along to me by a friend at the studio: "I see (in Nimoy) a growing image of a shrewd, ambition-dominated man, probing, waiting with emotions and feelings masked, ready to leap at the right moment and send others broken and reeling. ..."

At the onset, the actor felt protective of the character, much as a parent tries to protect a developing child. Certainly my ego was involved and was bruised. But it seemed important to help the character to come to life. When he did, he protected the actor. He became an ever-present friend who could be called upon as an ally in adverse circumstances. Nimoy could submerge himself and let the formidable Spock take over.
Eventually, the show went on the air (September 8, 1966). The reaction was immediate and multiplied at an astounding rate. The magic of Spock became quickly apparent. I was mobbed at personal appearances and security measures were necessary to get me into and out of crowded situations. Security and privacy suddenly became important words to me and to my family. The mail and phone calls and in general the intense activity that I suddenly experienced made it obvious that we were involved in something that was "happening." Before too long even NBC became actively involved in the "Spock phenomenon."
I discovered later through Gene Roddenberry and Herb Solow that NBC had been very negative about the character and in fact wanted the character removed from the series before the shooting started. Where they had originally felt that "no one would want to identify with the Spock character," they now decided that everyone was identifying. Therefore, they wanted Spock much more actively involved in the stories that would be shot in the future.
Since the whole thing started I had felt a wide range of emotional reaction to my identification with Spock. The range has included at various times a total embracing of the character and a total rejection of the character.
Spock was quickly becoming a pop culture hero. I didn't set out to be a pop culture hero. The simple truth is that I set out to be a craftsmanlike actor, a professional and possibly some day even an artist.

Warp One



The first time I ever saw myself in a movie I was in a state of shock for weeks. I don't really know what I expected, but I couldn't deal with what I saw. That strange skinny figure walking and talking up there on the screen set me squirming in my seat. I appeared in two or three brief scenes, and when each of them began I went into such a state of tension that I was totally unable to relate to what that person on the screen was doing. Had someone told me I was wonderful (they didn't), I would have had to believe it. If they had told me I was awful (mercifully they didn't do that either), I would have been forced to believe that as well. I simply did not "see" or experience myself, and therefore had no basis for judgment.
Years later, having watched that same person on film scores of times, I was able to relax enough to pass objective judgment on my work. Some actors claim they never watch themselves. I had to. I was too curious.
Today, I trust my own taste. I've played enough roles and have seen myself enough times that I can project my performance from the time I first read the script.
I suspect that it's similar to what happens when a block of marble arrives at a sculptor's studio. When he first looks at it, sees the image inside the block and then starts to chip away to reveal it to the eyes of others, the ability to see it is his visionary talent. The ability to chip away the excess is his craft or technique.
When I first sit down to read a script, a performance begins to grow on a screen or stage in my head. If I like that performance, if I am moved to laughter and tears, an audience will have the same experience. If it doesn't play well in my head, something is wrong. Perhaps it's simply not a good script. Perhaps I'm having difficulty relating to or understanding the character. If I can't resolve that difficulty, the chances for a successful performance are very slim. Possibly, with enough rehearsal time, some research, and the help of a good director, the problem can be overcome. But it's an uphill battle.
On the other hand, if I am moved when I read it, and I am still moved when I play it, I will be moved when I see it on the screen. I've seen enough of myself to be able to relax, sit back and be a member of the audience at my own performance.
How do you do it?
Spencer Tracy, when asked for advice on acting said, "Know your lines and don't bump into the furniture." James Cagney said, "Walk in, plant your feet, look the other fellow in the eye . . . and tell the truth." With all due respect to both of these giant talents, I would have to say there's something more.
The true creation of a being, a character other than one's self, for me is comparable to a mystical or spiritual experience. To stand in another person's shoes. To see as he sees, to hear as he hears. To know what he knows, and to do all this with a sense of control, a mastering of the dramatic moment, there must be more than a "natural talent" at work.
In Mexico and Spain, during a bull fight, an ambitious youngster will sometimes leap from the stands into the arena to take on the bull. Very often he makes a fool of himself and possibly is seriously injured as well. If he performs well and captures the imagination of the crowd, instead of being arrested by the police, he may be picked up by an impresario who recognizes his talent and will give him a start in a professional career.
If he does well, chances are he has been practicing somewhere. Possibly he's been sneaking into breeding farms at night to secretly work the bulls until one day he feels ready to make his bid in public.
For many years, Hollywood publicity men sold the public on the idea that stars are found at bus stops and soda fountains. It was very good publicity. It led every young male and female to fantasize about the possibility of being "discovered." That was good for the box office. But it made a mockery of acting as an art.
Tracy and Cagney were able to give very simple answers to the "how do you do it" question. That simplicity was beautifully visible in their work. Behind the simplicity were years of effort, study, trial and failure until all the rubbish that most actors start with was stripped away and only the clarity of finely polished work remained.
Of course, there's "luck" involved in any career. Many very fine and well prepared actors never get the opportunity to achieve wide recognition. It usually comes when the proper role in the proper vehicle finds the right performer.
Many brilliant performances go unnoticed in plays, films or TV shows which do not capture public or industry attention.
In the vast majority of cases, the actor, like most artists, must work for the satisfaction of knowing that his or her work has improved with the passage of time. This knowledge won't pay the rent, but it does help feed the soul.
In my case I had reached the point in my career where I could support my family on my income as an actor and an acting teacher. Still there was much frustration. I felt I was not working frequently enough, or in roles challenging enough to make full use of my craft. I was very seriously working at starting a career as a director when I was cast in the role of Mr. Spock. Since Star Trek the situation has been reversed. I've had no time to pursue a directing career.
I did direct one episode of Night Gallery in 1972. Jack Laird, the producer who gave me my virgin assignment on the show, offered me another one. I had to turn it down because it conflicted with an appearance in Milwaukee as "Fagin" in Oliver. Night Gallery was then cancelled, and that was that.
Someday, I'll get to it. But for now the challenges are plentiful in other areas.
In a successful mating of role and actor, there comes a day—either in rehearsal if it's a play, or during shooting of a film or TV series—when the character takes hold. The actor and his technique disappear and the magical transformation takes place.
During rehearsals of Death of a Salesman it happened to Lee J. Cobb who became "Willy Loman." Arthur Miller, who, as the playwright, had been watching the rehearsals, later said, "On that day, a man cast a shadow that was not his own."
How does that happen? It is a combination of talents. Writing, directing, and acting. But even with those elements present there is no guarantee that the magic will take place. It is not a science, it is an art.
The artists bring together a group of choices, based on experience and talent. Hopefully this combination of choices will blend to create the desired effect. When it really "cooks" the result is greater than the sum of all the parts.
In my case with Spock, there were many choices to be made, aside from the internal life of the character and the make-up and costumes. For example, how would he talk? How would he walk or sit? Did he keep his arms at his side, did he fold them or clasp his hands behind his back?
In some of these choices I was influenced by a performance given by Harry Belafonte at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in the mid-'50s. The Greek Theatre is an amphitheatre which seats several thousand people. Belafonte was at the height of his popularity and the place was packed. From where my wife and I were seated Belafonte was a small, distant figure.
During the first forty-five minutes of his program he stood perfectly still at a center stage microphone, his shoulders slightly hunched, his hands resting on the front of his thighs. He simply sang. Then in the middle of a phrase, he finally made a move. He simply raised his right arm slowly until it was parallel to the floor. For me the impact was enormous. Had he been moving constantly, the gesture would have meant nothing. But following that long period of containment it was as though a cannon had been fired.
I found this idea very useful in Spock. When a stone face lifts an eyebrow, something has happened. The effect is magnifying/magnified. Bit by bit, choice by choice, the character was put together until life was created. Until an actor "cast a shadow that was not his own." When that happens, when the actor sees the people and events around him through the senses of the character, the creative choices work easier.
When it happened to me as Spock, I knew it. I could reject a suggested piece of business with, "A Vulcan wouldn't do that." That's why the Spock neck pinch came into the series.
This was a device which was later mistakenly referred to as the Vulcan death grip. (There is no Vulcan death grip.) The Spock pinch first appeared in an episode called "The Enemy Within" which I shall refer to in more detail later. The scene in which it was introduced was one where Captain Kirk was jeopardized by a character who represented the negative side of his personality. This character was about to destroy Kirk with a phaser. The script called for me to sneak up behind the negative character and hit him over the head with the butt of my phaser.
I was jarred when I read the scene. Something about the action seemed to be totally out of context. I felt that coming up from behind and hitting people on the head with the butt of a gun belonged in the westerns of the 1890s, something one would expect to find in Gunsmoke or Bonanza. I mentioned this to the director who was willing to go along with the thought and asked what I would suggest as a replacement. I told him that since we were in the 22nd century and that Vulcans were a product of our own creation, we could take the license to devise whatever seemed to fit the situation properly. I suggested that Vulcans had made a thorough study of the human anatomy and that Vulcans were capable of transmitting a special energy from their fingertips which if applied to the proper nerve centers on a human's neck and shoulder, would render a human unconscious. He asked for a demonstration. I explained to Bill Shatner what I had in mind and when I applied the pressure at the proper point, Bill stiffened and dropped in a heap. That's how the Vulcan neck pinch was born.
I am constantly asked how I managed "to keep a straight face" while playing the character. In terms of actor's craft it was easy. I'm always amazed at the speed and deftness with which a plumber fixes a leaky faucet. That's his craft. Mine included emotional control and manipulation. I remember one day on the Star Trek set when a group of actors were listening to a story being told by one of the group. There was a funny ending and everyone laughed. I didn't.
An actress in the group said, "Leonard is in his Spock bag."
I was, deeply into it and that was sometimes a problem. I was like a pressure cooker. Plenty of emotional input, and little or no release. I was so thoroughly immersed in the character that my weekends were a gradual trip back to emotional normalcy. Or as close as I could get to it. By Sunday afternoon I would become aware of a lessening of the Spock presence. I would begin to relax into a somewhat more responsive state.
Sunday night would usually be spent studying lines for Monday's work. This in itself was the beginning of the return to character. My wife, Sandi, was very careful never to accept invitations on a night before work. I need eight hours of sleep. We socialized on Fridays and Saturdays only. Every other night, almost without exception, I was asleep by 9:30 P.M. I usually got home from work between 7 and 7:30 P.M. Often there were business calls to be made. Then there was little time left for the family, dinner and study before the 9:30 deadline. I had a phone put in my car so that I could make some of my calls while driving home.
The morning routine was up at 5:30 A.M., out the door at 6:15, and into the make-up chair at 6:30, breakfast during rest breaks in the make-up department, and watch that Vulcan take over my personality in the mirror. The work schedule was intense. My typical work day was 6:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. Each episode was shot in six working days.
There is a terrible, prevalent misconception that Star Trek was cancelled because it was too costly to produce. This is not the case. The show was run on a very average budget. ^ Mission: Impossible which was shooting next door on the Paramount lot was costing approximately 25 percent more than Star Trek.
The pressure of our schedule and the demands of the work created interesting side effects. Some were funny, some were not. I remember sitting in Gene Roddenberry's office one particular day. I had a brief break and had walked over from the set. We sat discussing some minor grievance over a script problem, or whatever. As I spoke to him, I felt the emotions welling up. My voice began to break, I burst into tears, and had to leave the room. He must have thought I was crazy.
I had a few other similar incidents. When I could feel it coming on, I'd get myself to a private place as quickly as possible, and work it out. It was simply the overflowing of the pent-up emotions which were not being allowed their natural outlet in their proper time and place. It was very much like the scene in "Naked Time" where Spock finds the emotional outburst happening to him and slips into a private room on the ship to try to rebuild his defenses.
A combination of summer heat and long working hours can create a condition of fatigue on a television production set. "TGIF" or "Thank God It's Friday" is a common expression on the last shooting day of the week. Variations on that include: "It's only two days to Friday," or "Only three days to Friday" or on Monday, "It's only five days to Friday."
In the summer of 1967 on a hot August afternoon, Bill Shatner and I were involved in shooting a scene which included a fight with three or four "heavies" to be followed by some dialogue between Bill and myself before the scene was ended. The fight was, as usual, carefully staged and rehearsed and we were ready with the dialogue so it was time to shoot. We rolled the cameras and proceeded to play the scene and Bill and I managed successfully to do away with the "bad guys" and then proceeded to play our dialogue. As the dialogue proceeded I became aware of a strange rumbling sound. I couldn't tell exactly what it was or where it was coming from and something about the look in Bill's eye told me that he heard it too.
We continued with the dialogue and the intermittent rumbling persisted. Just before the end of the scene I suddenly became aware of what had happened. We managed to complete the scene successfully and my suspicion was verified. One of the stuntmen with whom we had conducted the fight had dropped to the floor "unconscious" when he was supposed to have and then had proceeded to fall asleep. The intermittent rumbling we heard during the course of the dialogue was his snoring.
The Star Trek "family" of characters, although set in the 22nd century, is a very easily recognizable group of people when related to other successful TV shows of the past. The most obvious parallels can be drawn with the characters in the Gunsmoke cast. For Captain Kirk read Matt Dillon. For Mr. Spock read Chester, the deputy with the bad leg, played by Dennis Weaver, or Festus, played by Ken Curtis. And for Dr. McCoy, read Doc, played by Milburn Stone. Of course, the style of play and interaction differs because of the nature of the setting and the actor's postures, but the similarities are fairly obvious. In the Chester character, there are obvious physical characteristics, the bad leg which sets him apart as does Spock's pointed ears. In the case of the two doctors, they are almost interchangeable. Both crusty humanists, thinly disguising their devotion to their buddies with a veneer of irascibility.
For Spock, Dr. McCoy, played so successfully by DeForrest Kelley, was the perfect foil. In Gunsmoke the humor in the relationship between the doctor and Chester, or later, Festus, was somewhat reversed.
In dealing with Spock, McCoy ventured into areas where others feared to tread. Almost masochistically, he would insult Spock's anatomy, philosophy, or anything else that popped into his brain. Usually, Spock was able to rise to the occasion with a well-placed barb, leaving the doctor fuming. This friendly combat took some time to develop. There was no indication of its possibilities in either of the two pilot films, as I recall, but once established, its value was obvious.
In the first several episodes, the character of Yeoman Rand, played by Grace Lee Whitney, was the direct counterpart to Amanda Blake's "Kitty," the silent, secret love of the leading man. This proved to be clumsy on Star Trek. It limited Captain Kirk's potential relationships with other ladies since he would have seemed unfaithful to Miss Rand. She was eliminated to give the amorous Captain more lebensraum.
Ironically, the opposite pattern developed in the case of Spock. Although he was theoretically incapable of loving, the female audience notified us very quickly that he was very much loved. This led to the introduction of the "Nurse Chapel" character, played by Majel Barrett.
It was through her character that the female audience could express itself. It was she who worried about Mr. Spock and cooked soup for him. It was she who cared about and quietly loved the Vulcan who couldn't respond.
For the sake of those readers who are interested in astrology, let me report this fact. William Shatner, Captain Kirk on Star Trek, is exactly four days older than me. We are both Aries. He was born March 22, 1931 and I on the 26th. We are as unalike as salt and pepper, but on Star Trek, I felt we complemented each other in the same way. Most of the time, I could stand the personality of my character next to that of his, and know that the chemistry was right. His romantic, dashing, flamboyant Errol Flynn approach was perfectly suited to my contained, thoughtful Spock. Yes, there were times when I felt that his character was drifting perilously into my territory and mine into his. Each of us, I think, could recognize the value of the areas we vacated and relinquished to the other. But the chemistry was at its best when we functioned in an interlaced pattern each as part of a whole. Frankly, I always felt that the relationship between myself and Jeffrey Hunter, who was originally cast as the Starship Captain, would not have been nearly as successful. Hunter was more reticent and less dramatic in his acting choices, leaving Spock's maneuvering space less clearly defined.
Working from the base of a very comfortable characterization, I had very good instinctive ideas about what was right for Mr. Spock at a given moment. The Spock neck pinch and the Vulcan hand salute were small examples. Shatner had an excellent grasp for the flow of the overall story in a given episode. Where he could more readily find the strengths and weaknesses in the story, act by act, I could best relate to the drama or lack of it in a specific moment.
There were many times, I'm sure, when Gene Roddenberry and our other producers and directors wished we would both simply act. But I believe we helped bring a lot of texture to the shows through these specific personal efforts.
I find it very difficult to play a scene believably unless I believe the scene I'm asked to play. I was never able to lie to a girl in order to achieve a desired goal or effect. I try to keep the same faith with an audience.
When an actor is out of touch with the truth in performance, either because his material has led him astray or he isn't identifying with it, an audience may not know what is wrong, but they know that something is wrong.
When the truth is being told by the actor and his material, the emotional impact on the audience is complete, and they respond with a resounding "Yes!"
4 5 6 7 8 2010-07-19 18:44 Читать похожую статью
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