zachary quinto on the next 'star trek' + his friendship with the original spock

catching up with one of our favorite actors

photo via getty images

This morning, Leonard Nimoy, best known for his portrayal of Spock in the original Star Trek TV series and films, passed away in his Bel Air home at the age of 83. To commemorate his life, we'd like to re-share our interview with Zachary Quinto. Below, he shares how Nimoy has affected his life and the lives of those around him.

Over the last few years, Zachary Quinto has cultivated one of the most elastic careers in Hollywood. Able to stretch his talents to reach both ends of the movie spectrum—from blockbusters like the Star Trek movies to tense indies like Margin Call—Quinto is very comfortable in other people's skin. (He's also comfortable in his own—the actor came out in 2013 without much to-do, and has since been a wonderful advocate.) Quinto, who'll be putting on his Vulcan ears soon to reinhabit the role of Spock in the third Star Trek movie, will soon be seen on NBC's miniseries The Slap, playing a man who, in a fit of rage, slaps his friend's child and must deal with the consequences. We recently caught up with the actor to discuss his current rom com, We’ll Never Have Paris and his cherished friendship with the original Spock, Leonard Nimoy. 

In We’ll Never Have Paris, Simon Helberg writes you in as the best friend, usually a sounding board for what’s going on with the main character. But you don’t seem to give a damn about what’s going on.
I certainly picked up on that aspect of what Simon had written and we worked together to find the degree to which Jameson tends to be disengaged, but also very present. He’s the kind of person who can operate on a lot of levels.

What about Simon and his wife and co-director Jocelyn Towne putting their own story on film?
I thought it was a really unique way to make a movie, which is to basically tell your own story, as Simon and Jocelyn are doing with this film. And really I imagine working though the last vestiges of trauma that were associated with the incident (of traveling to win back your lover) and everything that happened subsequently. I thought it was brave.

Theater, film, TV—it’s constantly changing. Is there a career paradigm you’re pursuing?
If I’m on a path consciously, it’s a path of good material and good people and engaging dynamics that work. Where that takes place is secondary. For me, going back to the stage is something that I’m already eager to do and committed to do. I started out in theater and didn’t do plays for many years because I was pursuing my career in Los Angeles. But I’ve been able to do that and have more experiences like that. I’m really grateful.

The Slap is such an unusual show for primetime network.
It’s pretty unique in its form. For NBC, a broadcast network to be telling this kind of story, which is subject matter I think a lot of people would associate with a cable network, and also it’s a limited series. It’s only eight episodes. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve worked on in a long time. I feel happy when I go to work. When I think about the show, I want to dive into the experience. That doesn’t always happen.

Any word on Star Trek 3?
I don’t know anything. I haven’t read a script. Justin Lin is directing, I read that. I’m waiting for them to get it together and give us a call, which I’m sure will be real soon.

What about changing directors?
I’m totally open to the change. I think we all are, but I’m sure there’ll be a period of adjustment for everybody. There’s a very commanding presence on a set and certainly on a set that we’ve built. It’s going to be a different landscape that I think all of us are capable of and eager to navigate with Justin. I look forward to meeting him at one point and connecting with him. They’re just getting their creative ducks in a row. He’s aligning with the writers and everybody’s just calibrating and it’s all in process.

Talk about your relationship with Leonard Nimoy.
My relationship with Leonard has evolved beyond any sort of comments he made on the movie or the character. We’ve become very, very close personal friends and his presence in my life has probably been one of the best things to come out of the Star Trek experience, beyond the other cast and the movie. It’s the one thing I never expected, that Leonard and I would become such close friends. I really respect him and admire him.