Leonard Nimoy addressed the rumor that he hated Spock
Did he feel stuck as Spock?
For some actors, being heavily associated with just one character is a curse. Typecasting is the bane of many an existence, and its threat looms large over Hollywood. Sometimes a role can overtake who the actor is, and their public persona is swallowed whole. Careers as different as those of Max Baer, Jr., Ken Curtis, and even Carol Burnett had to navigate the treacherous waters of being typecast.
Throughout the 1980s, a rumor persisted in Hollywood that Leonard Nimoy was somehow resentful of Mr. Spock, the role he played on Star Trek. As Spock, Nimoy had become a significant pop culture touchstone. Nimoy's face was plastered onto everything. Spock had the crucial design element of casting a distinct silhouette, allowing him to be instantly recognizable no matter what merchandise he appeared on.
After the success of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Nimoy petitioned for the chance to direct the follow-up. Michael Eisner, then-president of Paramount was confused by Nimoy's interest in the project.
"I can't understand how you can ask me to do this," Eisner reportedly said. "How can you ask me to give you control of a $16 million Star Trek feature when you hate it? You hate it so much you had yourself killed off!"
For years, people assumed that, because Nimoy mostly appeared only in Star Trek media, he must've resented his close association with Spock. Most actors, the public expected, would've rather a gallery of characters. Nimoy was forever Spock.
"There has never been a Star Trek project I haven't been a part of," Nimoy reminded The Tampa Tribune in 1986. "And yet, there is this persistent notion that I have refused to do Star Trek or that I have rejected it in some way. There's some kind of strange anomaly going on here, right?"
Leonard Nimoy played Spock for the rest of his life.
"I'm grateful for it," said Nimoy. "It's better than being forgotten."