Spock was the only alien aboard the original Enterprise. His Vulcan logic served as a balance to Captain Kirk’s emotional and sometimes impulsive nature. The character also served as a device to explore what it means to be human.
The enduring interest in Spock and his story is evidenced by the fact that the character has been featured in multiple reimaginings of the “Star Trek” franchise. The character was revived for both J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” movies and Alex Kurtzman’s “Star Trek” television franchise.
Since both of these reboots focused on younger versions of Spock, new actors took on the monumental task of becoming Spock. Here are all the actors that have played Spock in the “Star Trek” universe.
Leonard Nimoy, The Original Spock
For many “Star Trek” fans, Leonard Nimoy is the only Spock. Nimoy was the first actor to bring the character to life. He portrayed Spock in 80 episodes of TOS, 22 episodes of “Star Trek: The Animated Series,” two episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and eight “Star Trek” movies.
Nimoy was also the only TOS actor to cross over into the Kelvin Timeline created by Abrams’ movies. He made an appearance as the Spock from the Prime Timeline in both “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness.”
Nimoy was instrumental in developing Spock’s personality and backstory. He also played a major role in envisioning Vulcan culture. Without Nimoy, Spock would not have endured the way he has.
Nimoy had a complicated relationship with Spock, though. He wrote two books about portraying the character and his time in the Trekverse. The first was called “I Am Not Spock” and the second was called “I Am Spock.”
Zachary Quinto, The Kelvin Timeline Spock
When Abrams rebooted the “Star Trek” franchise in 2009, he needed to find a new actor to play Spock. Of course, finding the right actor to play such an iconic character was difficult, but Abrams was convinced that Quinto was the perfect choice.
After announcing the casting, he spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his realization that Quinto was the new Spock.
“You just have to know. You can’t intellectualize this. It just has to feel right on every level… Zachary possesses a thoughtfulness, a gravity, and a complexity that made me and the other producers know he was the right guy.”
In the same interview, Nimoy said that Spock was “being put in very, very good hands.”
After playing Spock in the first movie, Quinto revealed in an interview with the Huffington Post that he had worked with Nimoy extensively on the character.
“Leonard and I obviously spent time working together on the first film and became very good friends and are still very close and speak of the character from time to time. He was very clear about wanting to hand it to somebody that he could trust and that would respect the character the same way that he did. We are very different people and we come at the experience from very different perspectives and invariably it is going to be unique to me even though it is a character he created. I think J.J. really supported that as well, he wanted all of us to bring our own points of view and perspectives to the characters we are recreating.”
Quinto also revealed that when he was overwhelmed by the pressure of reimagining one of Trek’s most famous characters, Nimoy was always there to support him and let him know he was doing a great job.
Ultimately, Nimoy was very pleased with Quinto’s interpretation of Spock.
Ethan Peck, The Modern Spock
Like the Kelvin Timeline movies, “Star Trek: Discovery” gave fans a different version of the Spock they once knew. “Discovery’s” Spock was much more emotional, he had an even more complicated relationship with his family and he had a human foster sister.
In a casting press release, Kurtzman explained why Ethan Peck was the right choice for this new version of Spock.
“The great Leonard Nimoy, then the brilliant Zachary Quinto, brought incomparable humanity to a character forever torn between logic and emotion. We searched for months for an actor who would, like them, bring his own interpretation to the role. An actor who would, like them, effortlessly embody Spock’s greatest qualities, beyond obvious logic: empathy, intuition, compassion, confusion, and yearning. Ethan Peck walked into the room inhabiting all of these qualities, aware of his daunting responsibility to Leonard, Zack, and the fans, and ready to confront the challenge in the service of protecting and expanding on Spock’s legacy. In that spirit, we’re thrilled to welcome him to the family.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after his first episode aired, Peck talked about how he created his Spock.
“I mostly paid attention to Leonard Nimoy’s depiction because we are of the same timeline. I spent a lot of time with the original series and his performance. As I would review my lines, I would have an episode on and try to absorb the musicality of his voice and pay attention to what he did… Spock’s often referred to as a computer, unemotional. But I think he’s deeply emotional; he just doesn’t interface with the emotion going on around him. He chooses very carefully how to engage with it and speak to it… He tends to see that but operates from a place purely from logic, which is quintessential Spock. There’s a wisdom to Spock, but I think with him comes emotional struggle and strife.”
Unlike Quinto, Peck didn’t have the privilege of working directly with Nimoy to create his version of Spock. Nimoy passed away in 2015 long before “Discovery” aired. However, Peck did make sure to draw his inspiration from Nimoy’s performances.
The Young Spocks
Nimoy, Quinto, and Peck are the actors most associated with Spock because they played the adult version of the character several times. However, there are a few more actors who played Spock — the actors who played younger versions of the character.
In the “Star Trek: The Animated Series” episode “Yesteryear,” Billy Simpson played Young Spock, though he wasn’t credited in the episode.
In Abrams’ first “Star Trek” movie, Jacob Kogan played a younger version of Spock.
In “Star Trek: Discovery’s” second season, Liam Hughes played Spock as a child in three episodes.
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