Actor/sci-fi icon Leonard Nimoy has been lured out of his self-imposed retirement from acting to reprise his fascinating role as…no, not that one (yet, anyway). Actually, Nimoy’s back as “Fringe’s” mysterious scientist William Bell for the show’s fourth season finale.
“I’m 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,” Nimoy explains (Abrams directed Nimoy in the big screen reboot of “Star Trek”). “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… It’s not just the role of William Bell – It’s the show.”
PopcornBiz got a pointed earful of information about Nimoy’s return to the cult favorite series, along with some tantalizing tidbits regarding taking up residence with Sheldon Cooper, saluting the space shuttle Enterprise and even if his tenure as Mr. Spock will continue to live long and prosper.
On being swayed by the prospect of digging even deeper in his “Fringe” character:
“The character of William Bell started out to be rather ambivalent. We weren’t quite sure whether we were supposed to enjoy him or be afraid of him. We couldn’t 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. He’s 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 haven’t played in a long time, so it was very welcoming to me…Obviously, I’m 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. I’m interested in exploring theatricality and characters with some dimension. William Bell certainly has that.
On the reinvented version of the world-spanning William Bell:
“He has become a world of his own. Take that as a hint… think what you’re going to see 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. He’s got himself out on a limb and doing some very strange and fantastic things with his powers. I think what you’ll see is probably the culmination of a lot of wonderful eyes coming together…The William Bell character started out to be a very intelligent and rational character. I think he’s still very, very intelligent but I’m not quite so sure he’s rational anymore. I think you’ll see some behaviors tomorrow night that have taken him quite a distance from where he started.”
On possible appearances in “Fringe’s” fifth and final season:
“I’m sure that we will be having conversations about that before too long. I haven’t 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 haven’t heard anything about Bell coming back, but I’m sure I’ll be getting a call. We’ll 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 we’ll be talking.”
On acting opposite frequent “Fringe” scene partner John Noble:
“Working with John is always a treat, and I think the relationship between William Bell and John’s 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.”
On Anna Torv’s performance as – kind of – William Bell in Season Three:
“I saw that! I thought she was brilliant. I was very flattered. I thought she was wonderful. I don’t think I could do justice to her the way she did for me. I don’t think I’m capable of that. She was quite wonderful, and I told her so.”
On that clever vocal cameo this season on “The Big Bang Theory”:
“’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 asked me to appear on the show. For various reasons, a physical appearance didn’t work out, but when they came up with this idea of a voicing of the Spock [action figure] character with Sheldon being given a ‘Star Trek’ transporter [toy], 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.
On the rumors speculating he’ll be back in uniform as Spock-Prime for “Star Trek 2”:
“My feeling is they don’t need me. They’ve got a wonderful cast. Zachary Quinto has taken on the character of Spock and I think he is wonderfully suited. He is a talented guy. He is a very intelligent actor, very well trained. They’ve got a great company of people replacing all of us. I don’t think they need me, frankly. It’s flattering to be talked about, but I just don’t think they need me. I understand, by the way, that they have just finished shooting and they’ve got a wonderful actor, Mr. [Benedict] 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. He’s in the movie. I think they’re going to do just fine.”
On his recent experience watching the space shuttle Enterprise – named for the TV starship – flown to New York to be installed in a museum:
“It was one of the most exciting things I’ve 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 sight, 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. It’s going to be parked on the Intrepid in New York City as a part of their permanent museum. I’m 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 themselves.”