New documentary by Leonard Nimoy's son honors both his dad and Spock

Adam Nimoy planned to work with his father on a film about Star Trek’s iconic Mr. Spock, but that collaboration was pre-empted by Leonard Nimoy's death in 2015.

However, the expressions of grief and love that followed the loss inspired his son in making new documentary For the Love of Spock (in select theaters and on demand Friday).

The film “does celebrate 50 years of Mr. Spock, but we also took a detour into the life of Leonard Nimoy, because there was so much emotional outpouring after he passed away, not only for the loss of Spock but for the loss of an artist and humanitarian,” Adam Nimoy tells USA TODAY.

The film explores the origins of the eminently logical Vulcan — early screenings Thursday coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first Trek broadcast in 1966 — and features such Trek- and Nimoy-connected celebrities as Zachary Quinto,William ShatnerGeorge TakeiJ.J. AbramsSimon PeggZoe Saldana and Jim Parsons.

Leonard Nimoy was deeply involved in defining Spock, from the shaping of his pointed ears to the evolution of his Vulcan philosophy, including the hand salute inspired by Nimoy's Judaism. “He really prided himself in being in that first pilot of Star Trek. He was the only character in the original pilot who continued into the series” as the same character, his son says. “And (he) continued into J.J. Abrams’ ” recent films.

When Trek premiered, fans quickly embraced Spock. “There was this idea of being an outsider and not fitting in. A lot of women initially were interested in Spock because he had this great look. He was aloof. He was not the swashbuckling, romantic extrovert that Kirk was,” Adam says.

He calls Shatner’s recent book Leonard, about the actor's friendship with the elder Nimoy,“a very positive, loving portrayal of the relationship,” including its “many ups and downs,” As to Shatner’s revelation that Nimoy shut him out in his final years, "I firmly believe in time they would have reconciled,” Adam says.

Leonard Nimoy shared fans' love for Trek’s optimistic outlook.

The series began “in 1966, a very tumultuous time not too far from the Cuban Missile Crisis, when nuclear war was a distinct possibility. Star Trek is hope for the future. Everybody is working together, all nationalities, all interplanetary races, for a common cause,” Adam says.

Spock also looks at the father-son relationship and includes previously unseen home videos and family photos. “What I bring to the table that is different is my own experience with Spock and with my dad,” says Adam, who also directed Leonard Nimoy’s Boston, a 2014 documentary about his father’s upbringing as the son of Ukrainian immigrants.

Watching the show in the 1960s, “I loved Star Trek. I was very excited and proud of my dad and excited about the Spock journey,” he remembers. As the son grew older, he had to adjust to his father’s celebrity and fan base. There were difficulties and estrangement, but the two eventually resolved the conflict.

“The good news is my dad was around long enough to have a third act of his life,” he says. “And the last part was devoted to the family.”


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