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Interview with Leonard Nimoy of "Fringe" on FOX 5/10/12
I was so glad to get this invitation and then be able to
ask him a question. He is such an amazing actor and has been playing a
great role on "Fringe". On the phone, he was so nice and so jovial. He
laughs quite a lot and makes jokes. He would be fun to hang out with.
FBC PUBLICITY: Fringe Conference Call
May 10, 2012/9:00 a.m. PDT
Moderator Welcome to the Fringe Conference Call. At this time, all
participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a
question and answer session. As a reminder, this conference is being
recorded for replay and instructions will be given at the conclusion of
I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Josh Governale.
J. Governale Thank you very much, Cathy. Good morning and afternoon,
everyone and thank you for joining us on the Fringe Conference Call with
our very special star Leonard Nimoy. As a reminder, Part 2 of the Fringe
Fourth Season Finale airs Friday at 9:00 p.m./8:00 p.m. Central on Fox.
Without further delay, please welcome Leonard Nimoy and letís proceed
with our first question.
Moderator Our first question comes from Kyle Nolan with Noreruns.net.
K. Nolan What was it about the role of William Bell that enticed you to
return from retirement to reprise the character?
L. Nimoy Well, itís not just the role of William Bell. Itís the show. I
think Fringe is a wildly imaginative show. The writers and the creators
of the show, the producers, are very bright and very theatrical. All the
characters are fleshed out wonderfully and the chemistry amongst the
cast is terrific. I wanted to be part of this project. I enjoy the
Of course, the character of William Bell started out to be rather
ambivalent. We werenít quite sure whether we were supposed to enjoy him
or be afraid of him. We couldnít quite figure out what his motivation
was. At the end of last season, he seemed to come around to be less
dangerous. This season I think things have taken another turn. Heís in
another universe and has taken on other characteristics.
There were challenges in the character itself that were attractive to
me. I could play aspects of a character that I havenít played in a long
time, so it was very welcoming to me.
K. Nolan Lately youíve been playing a lot of these bad guy roles with
William Bell and on Transformers 3. Do you prefer playing the bad guy
rather than the good guy?
L. Nimoy I donít have a preference for bad people. No. I have an
interest in playing a broad range of characters. Obviously, Iím mostly
identified with a character who is very responsible and very solid and
very intelligent, but there are plenty of questionable characters in my
past career. Iím interested in exploring theatricality and characters
with some dimension. William Bell certainly has that.
Moderator We have a question from Alex Zalban with MTV Geek.
A. Zalban I remember chatting with you on a similar conference call
probably about two years ago where you said, ďWell, Iíve quit acting.
Iím not going to come back. Iím not going to do anything anymore.Ē Then
I screamed out loud when you were on TV on Friday. How long have you
held onto that secret of your return and what was involved in keeping
L. Nimoy Well, how long have I kept it a secret? Is that what youíre
A. Zalban Yes, I guess. How long have you known you were going to come
back and what was it like keeping that secret?
L. Nimoy Iím not sure exactly the amount of time. I would say somewhere
around two or three months from the time that I knew I was going to do
it until now. Iím a sucker for a good role and J.J. Abrams, the
Executive Producer of the show, is a friend of mine. He calls. I take
his call. The writers and producers, Joel Wyman, Jeff Pinkner, and the
cast, theyíre a wonderful bunch of people and I enjoy being there. When
they called and asked me if I would do it, it was pretty easy to
convince me that there was an interesting challenge in the character and
a very wonderful company to work with.
A. Zalban While you were gone, we got to see Anna Torv do an impression
of you on the show.
L. Nimoy I saw that. I thought she was brilliant. I was very flattered.
I thought she was wonderful.
A. Zalban Now that youíre back, are we going to get to see you do an
impression of Anna Torv?
L. Nimoy I donít think I could do justice to her the way she did for me.
I donít think Iím capable of that. She was quite wonderful and I told
Moderator We have a question from Erik Goldman with IGN.com.
E. Goldman Obviously, Fringe just had the great news that they just got
renewed for one final season. I know you probably canít say exactly
whatís going to happen with William Bell in the finale, but if there was
an opportunity to see him again somewhere in those final 13 episodes, is
that something youíre open to?
L. Nimoy Iím sure that we will be having conversations about that before
too long. I havenít heard anything new about William Bell or the show,
except that it has been picked up for 13 episodes, which I think is
wonderful. I know the company was hoping for that that they could have
another season to close out successfully. I havenít heard anything about
Bell coming back, but Iím sure Iíll be getting a call. Weíll talk about
it. It will depend on my schedule. It will depend on what they have in
mind for the character. There are a lot of issues that have to be dealt
with, but weíll be talking.
E. Goldman Also, you worked with John Noble a lot in that final episode
in Season 2 but now getting to play off him again with like you said
sort of a different dynamic of Bell here.
L. Nimoy Yes. John is a wonderful actor. They all are. Working with John
is always a treat and I think the relationship between William Bell and
Johnís character has been very well written so that we have some
delicious scenes to play with each other. I look forward to it. When I
began working with him I admired what he was doing. We kind of hit it
off personally and in character. I think the chemistry between the two
characters has worked very well. It was a very satisfying experience
working with him.
Moderator We have a question from Joshua Maloney with Niagara Frontier
J. Maloney Like you said, Fringe is a very imaginative show. Itís very
well received with critics. Itís got obviously a great loyal fan base,
but kind of like with Star Trek it has struggled to get that large
television audience. Why do you suppose that is?
L. Nimoy If I could answer that question I think the networks would all
be on me for explanations of what to do about their schedules. Iím not
an authority on ratings and how these things happen. Youíre absolutely
right in the comparison to Star Trek. We did very poorly in the ratings
but eventually, the show started to become more and more popular until
it became a news story where stations were carrying the show at various
hours and various time and sometimes in marathons on weekends and 6:00
every night in syndication.
The same thing could happen with Fringe. I can tell you that when Star
Trek was put on a Friday night, which is a date night, not a good night
for a show like this, it did very, very poorly. Fringe has the same kind
of audience, a very intense audience, a small audience, but very intense
and very committed. I think itís commendable that the people at FOX
decided to honor that commitment.
Now I understand that the show does particularly well in DVR recordings
and I donít know how that works or how they measure that. What that
means is that people who are out on Friday nights record the show and
watch it some other time. Thatís a sign of the commitment to the show.
Moderator We have a question from Cara Bennett with SFX Magazine.
C. Bennett Just wanted to ask, is it important for you to keep up with
what was going on with the world? I know, obviously, this is a new
universe for the William Bell youíre playing, but have you kind of
jumped in here and there to catch up with whatís going on or were you
just coming in cold again after the last episode that you did for the
L. Nimoy Iím not sure I understand. Jump into the world and wható
C. Bennett Catching up in the meantime since youíve been on the show.
L. Nimoy Checking with whatís been going on with the show? Is that what
C. Bennett Yes. Have youó
L. Nimoy Thank you. I have a general picture. I havenít watched all the
episodes but I have a general picture of what has been happening and
where my character fits in the story, in the overall arc of the story. I
think theyíve done a really wonderful job of finding ways to reinvent
the story and reinvent the characters. When I was asked about coming on
this season, I said I think the mystery of William Bell has kind of gone
away by the end of the last season because it was pretty clear that he
was a pretty decent guy. I said, ďWhere are we going to go now?Ē It was
explained to me that weíre opening up a whole world and a whole new can
of peas, so to speak, and William Bell is being recreated as something
else. That intrigued me and I was excited to go back to work.
Moderator We have a question from Marissa Rothman with
M. Rothman Well, obviously, in the last episode we did see that William
Bell was willing to basically sacrifice David Robert Jones to get where
he needs to go. Is there any lengths that he wonít be willing to go in
this weekís episode?
L. Nimoy Youíre going to see some interesting activities on the part of
William Bell tomorrow night. This character has gotten himself out on a
limb and is doing some very wonderful theatrical and bizarre activities.
He has become a world of his own. Take that as a hint.
Moderator We have question from Charlie Anderson with 109.
C. Anderson One of the things I really admired about your career in the
last decade or so with the photography and everything is your commitment
to humanism. How does it feel to be portraying a character who turns
people into monsters?
L. Nimoy Whatís that about monsters? I didnít quite get it.
C. Anderson Turns people into monsters.
L. Nimoy What turns people into monsters?
C. Anderson You do. William Bell does.
L. Nimoy William Bell turns them into monsters?
C. Anderson Yes.
L. Nimoy Really.
C. Anderson You have a bunch ofó
L. Nimoy Iím going to have to talk to him about that. Thatís not a nice
thing, is it?
C. Anderson No, itís not.
L. Nimoy Well, if there is anything I can do about it, Iíll see if I can
change his attitude about turning people into monsters. Iíll have a
conversation with him very soon. Iíll say, ďWilliam, cut it out.Ē
Moderator We have a question from Kim Claudefelter with Winston Salem
K. Claudefelter Considering your supposed retirement, whatís leading you
to accept small roles like Lazy Song and Big Bang Theory that you were
L. Nimoy The Big Bang Theory has been an ongoing conversation for a
long, long time regarding an appearance. Some time ago they asked me if
I would provide a napkin that I had used and I did. They used it on the
show as a gift to the Sheldon character. It has become one of the most
highly talked about and most highly enjoyed shows of all time I
understand. They are a wonderfully talented bunch of people and is a
smart show and a show full of talent.
They asked me to appear on the show. For various reasons, a physical
appearance didnít work out but when they came up with this idea of a
voicing of the Spock character with Sheldon being given a Star Trek
transporter, the whole idea was wonderful. It was a way for me to
deliver a kind of appearance on the show and to work with those very,
very talented bunch of people.
Moderator We have a question from Henry Hanks with CNN.com.
H. Hanks As you know, youíre doing this role on Fringe and you say
youíre open to next season possibly. If the right show and the right
film or the right role came along, are you now seeing yourself as a
little more open to doing some more acting or do you still mostly
consider yourself retired?
L. Nimoy The door is not completely closed. Obviously, I said a couple
of years ago that I was retiring and here I am talking about a
performance that I just gave. There are certain special situations that
come along that can intrigue me. This one did. As I said before, J.J.
Abrams is a friend. Jeff Pinkner, Joel Wyman, theyíre all friends, the
producers of the show.
I think the writing is wonderfully imaginative. Itís a fascinating
character and a great company. Itís nice to get off the couch and throw
the clothes on and a little makeup and go back to work every once in a
while. I still enjoy it. In this case, as I said before, itís all of the
elements that come together at the right time in the right way and I was
happy to do it.
Moderator We have a question from Kevin Williamson with Sun Media.
K. Williamson Beyond Fringe and now you saying that the door is kind of
open to other roles, there have been reports in the last month or so
that youíre actually going to be appearing in the next Star Trek movie
as well reprising your most famous role of Spock. Can you talk about
that at all?
L. Nimoy Well, my feeling is they donít need me. Theyíve got a wonderful
cast. Zachary Quindo has taken on the character of Spock and I think is
wonderfully suited. He is a talented guy. He is a very intelligent
actor, very well trained. Theyíve got a great company of people
replacing all of us. I donít think they need me, frankly. Itís
flattering to be talked about, but I just donít think they need me.
I understand, by the way, that they have just finished shooting and
theyíve got a wonderful actor, Mr. Cumberbatch, who has a great
reputation in the UK and I think is going to build a reputation here in
the United States very quickly. The Sherlock Holmes series that he is
famous for in the UK is coming to the United States and I think heís
going to be very quickly recognized as a major talent. Heís in the
movie. I think theyíre going to do just fine.
Moderator We have a question from Scott Huber with Popcorn Biz.
S. Huber Iím curious just last week you got to revisit the Space Shuttle
that was named for the Enterprise as it was delivered to New York on
display. Iím just curious about our feelings about that incident and
just the importance and the impact of that early role on space
exploration and American history.
L. Nimoy Yes. It was one of the most exciting things Iíve ever
experienced to see that 747 fly by with the Enterprise Shuttle
piggybacked the way they did. I was out there at JFK when they did their
flyby at about 500 feet. It was an amazing site and then they went
around the city. They went around Manhattan. They landed right in front
of us and I was asked to get up and say a few words.
I talked about the fact that we, the Star Trek company, had been invited
to be there in 1976 when that shuttle was first rolled out out of the
hangar and the Air Force band played the theme from Star Trek. It was
thrilling then and it was thrilling now just to see that amazing ship
come back home. Itís going to be parked on the Intrepid in New York City
as a part of their permanent museum. Iím looking forward to being there
to visit it there.
The whole space program has given us, I think, an enormous lift as a
people. It was President Kennedy who said we were going to send a man to
the moon and bring him back safely and we did it. I give so much credit
to the scientists and engineers who make these wondrous things happen
and I encourage young people to think about the sciences as a future for
Moderator We have a question from Jamie Ruby with Scifivision.com.
J. Ruby I was just wondering, youíve played different versions of
William Bell now. Which is kind of the most interesting for you to play
L. Nimoy I think what youíre going to seer tomorrow night is probably
the most interesting of it all because the character has become very
exotic; very exotic is the best word I can come up with at the moment.
Heís got himself out on a limb and doing some very strange and fantastic
things with his powers. I think what youíll see tomorrow night is
probably the culmination of a lot of wonderful eyes coming together. Iím
very excited. Iím looking forward to seeing it myself. I havenít seen it
in context, so Iím pretty excited about what people are going to be
experiencing tomorrow night.
Moderator We have a question from Cathy Huddleston with Blaster.com.
C. Huddleston What kind of a journey would you say William Bell is on,
the William Bell that weíll see on Friday? What kind of a journey is
Leonard Nimoy on?
L. Nimoy Well, the William Bell character started out to be a very
intelligent and rational character. I think heís still very, very
intelligent but Iím not quite4 so sure heís rational anymore. I think
youíll see some behaviors tomorrow night that have taken him quite a
distance from where he started.
The journey that Iíve been on has been a blessed journey. When I was 17
I set out with the hopes of making a living as an actor and I feel that
I have been blessed with the kind of opportunities Iíve been given. Iíve
acted all over the United States. Iíve acted in countries all around the
world. Iíve acted on stage as much as Iíve wanted to, a couple times on
Broadway; toured several times in various productions around the United
States and met all kinds of wonderful people in wonderful cities;
television; film; radio; commercials. Iíve had a taste of it all. Iím a
very, very thankful person.
Moderator We have a question from Steve Sunu with Comic Book Resources
and Spinoffs Online.
S. Sunu You have an incredible voice and Iím sure youíve been told this
before. Youíve done some voice acting roles in the last few years for
movies and television, even video games. How do you feel voice acting
has helped you to further explore theatricality and character?
L. Nimoy The voice thing is a blessing that I was given. I did have
speech problems when I first stated out as an actor. I came from Boston.
I grew up in Boston and when I began to think about acting it was
pointed out to me that I sounded very, very much like a very clearly
defined Boston person and that it might limit me as an actor. I spent
some time working on my speech. The voice was always there but my speech
needed some work in order to make it more acceptable as sort of a broad
American kind of sound. The voice has been a blessing.
Youíre right. Iíve had opportunities to do voice work of all kinds. I
did the In Search Of series for seven years, which was almost entirely
voice work. It was something that was given to me and I was able to make
good use of it. Iím grateful for it.
Moderator We have a question from Andrea Towers with Voice of TV. Please
A. Towers Hello. Thank you for talking with me.
L. Nimoy You are the voice of TV?
A. Towers Yes.
L. Nimoy Wow! Hello.
A. Towers Hello. A lot of people actually took my specific Fringe
questions, but I just wanted to talk to you a little about them.
Obviously, youíre very involved in the art world in many different ways
and are we going to be seeing anything of you in terms of music or
getting back on stage? I know you spoke a little bit about that, but do
you have anything in the works creatively otherwise?
L. Nimoy My wifeís son, Erin Bay Shuck, is a Record Producer at Atlantic
Records. Heís the producer that brought Bruno Mars to the label and
signed him. Iíve been on his case to let me into the recording study to
make some smash hit records. He hasnít succumbed to my pleas yet. I
would love to make a smash hit record but we donít have any definitive
I do still do some of my photography work. I have a photography website.
Itís Leonardnimoyphotography.com if you want to take a look at the kind
of work that I do. Iíve enjoyed photography ever since I was a teenager
and Iím still at it. Iíve had shows in various cities around the country
and I have a number of pieces in permanent collections in museums around
the country that Iím very proud of, but as far as the music is
concerned, I donít have any specific plans yet.
Moderator We have a question from Clint Wickert with Golden Spiral
C. Wickert My question is youíre character, William Bell, has shown up
in a new and exciting way each season. Weíve had you in amber this
season and in person, of course. We had you animated in episode LSD and
Brown Betty from Seasons 2 and 3 and of course, in iconic Twin Towers at
the end of Season 1. Can you briefly tell us a little bit about how
those worked for you and if youíre able to do Season 5, what new media
would you like to be in?
L. Nimoy Well, the William Bell journey has been really interesting to
me and I donít take any credit for it. Iím only the performer. Iíve
given the material on the printed page. They hand it to me in a script
form. Conversations first about which way William Bell is going now and
then it comes to me on the pages. I have been very grateful for having
been given some wonderful, rich opportunities as an actor in the William
Bell character. We started out, as I said before, very ambiguous, didnít
quite know whether to trust him or not, and gradually it was revealed
that he could be a helpful and reasonable kind of guy.
Now in this particular season, this particular work thatís on tomorrow
night, I think youíll see quite a dramatic shift in the character. There
is another dimension of him. We have not yet spoken at all about another
season. I know that the show has been picked up for 13 more episodes but
there has been no conversation yet about whether they want William Bell
and if so, what will William Bell be all about next season? Whatís on
tomorrow night I think is quite extraordinary.
Moderator We have a question from Suzanne Lanoue with the TV Megasite.
S. Lanoue I noticed on this call that youíre a very fun person. You laugh
a lot. Would you be open to doing more comedy like you did with Big Bang
L. Nimoy I love comedy. Iím not known for comedy, but I love comedy.
Iíve done a lot of it in my lifetime. The most recent comedy opportunity
Iíve had was on the Big Bang Theory show where I had that wonderful
funny interaction with the Sheldon character. Itís not something that
Iím known for, but I have done a lot of comedy in my work over the
years, mostly in the theater. Of course, I directed Three Men and a
Baby. Most people are surprised to hear that I made a funny movie. I
love to laugh and I love comedy. Thanks for the question.
Moderator Mr. Nimoy, Iím turning the conference back over to you for
L. Nimoy I thank you all for joining us this morning. Iím excited about
the show. Iím proud to be connected with Fringe. I think itís an
intelligent and imaginative and theatrical show. I told the company when
I finished shooting on this particular episode a few weeks ago I said,
ďYou are superior company. I have never worked with a better company in
my entire 60-year career.Ē I thanked them all for being who they are and
doing what they are and told them how proud I was to be a part of it.
Iím looking forward to tomorrow night myself. I have not seen the show
put together. I think itís going to be exciting for everybody. Thanks
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