Leonard Nimoy Had to Turn Down Appearance in 'Star Trek Beyond'

Marcus Errico
Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Adam and Leonard Nimoy in ‘For the Love of Spock’ (For the Love of Spock Productions)

Star Trek Beyond warps into theaters this weekend. Although Leonard Nimoy’s “Spock Prime” is absent from the screen — the actor died in February 2015 at age 83, about four months before filming began — the film pays tribute to the iconic character as well as the actor. In Beyond, the younger Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, must come to terms with the death of his Vulcan mentor. At the end of the credits, the filmmakers dedicate the film to the memory of Nimoy. But, according to Nimoy’s son, Adam, it was the original intention of the filmmakers to bring back his father’s Spock Prime for Beyond. And it was devastating to the actor to have to turn down the offer.

“I know, because I talked with Dad extensively about it, that he was very happy to be a part of this reincarnation of Star Trek, to be participating. It was very hard for him when they came with the third installment, Star Trek Beyond, and they wanted him involved, but he had to say no because of his health,” Adam Nimoy told Yahoo Movies at Comic-Con in Thursday.

Related: Despite Turmoil, ‘Star Trek’ Cast Embraces Films Beyond ‘Beyond’

“He didn’t think he could physically do it. So that was difficult for him. … But he was very pleased and very happy to end his career as Spock with those cast members.”

The younger Nimoy has been in San Diego as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the original Star Trek series. He appeared at “50 Artists. 50 Years,” an exhibition of Trek-inspired artwork that includes one his father’s final pieces, a study of the Vulcan salute. 

‘Hand in Vulcan Gesture,’ by Leonard Nimoy (50 Artists. 50 Years)

Adam also attended the premiere of Star Trek Beyond on Wednesday, the same day his Kickstarter-funded documentary on his dad, For the Love Spock, released its trailer. As shown in the heart-tugging clip, Nimoy’s surviving castmates from the original series and J.J. Abrams’s rebooted film franchise fondly recall the late actor.

“Dad could be very reserved because he liked to stay in Spock character. So it was sometimes hard to engage him. [However], when we went up to Vancouver last year [where Beyond was filming] to interview the new cast, everyone said pretty much the same things about my dad: that he was gracious, that he was kind, that he was warm.

“They’ve told me that in a way he was still there. He had such an influence on them, on validating what they were doing and passing the torch to them because he participated in this reincarnation, these new installments, that they could still feel his spirit. He was very appreciative and respectful of the work they were doing, and I think they really felt that.”

Related: Zachary Quinto: ‘I Feel Leonard Nimoy With Me in a Very Powerful Way All the Time’

Adam Nimoy said that Quinto has been a worthy successor to the Spock mantle. “Zachary has been a big part of the film For the Love of Spock because he tells the whole tale of this genesis of Spock — where he’s been and where he’s going.. … He had a very special relationship with my dad. He’s done a great job continuing on with the role.”

“Dad was very comfortable with Zachary continuing the tradition of playing Spock. So he’s got a professional connection with Spock and the family, but he’s also got a personal connection. He’s been like a member of the family ever since [2009’s Star Trek].”

The feeling was mutual. Last year, when Yahoo Movies went to the Vancouver set of Beyond, Quinto said, “I think [Leonard]’s very much a part of this — with me, for me.… I feel him with me in a very powerful way all the time. And doing this film, I feel he’s a part of it for all of us. Everybody feels his absence. We want to honor him with continuing to tell these stories with integrity.”

Watch the ‘For the Love of Spock’ trailer: