It isn’t mentioned in the documentary about him, but in 1975 Leonard Nimoy wrote a memoir titled “I Am Not Spock.” He was trying to say something nuanced, but at the time it was interpreted as the “Star Trek” actor’s rejection of a role that typecast him.
“For the Love of Spock” is a new documentary that acknowledges how little distance there is between the actor and the marvelous pointy-eared character created for him by Gene Roddenberry. Nimoy (who died in 2015) will forever be Spock.
The film is directed by the actor’s son, Adam Nimoy, who’s done a lot of television (he directed an episode of the 1990s “Outer Limits” remake that starred his dad). Funds were raised via Kickstarter, and the whole thing has the air of a home-movie made for fans.
Still, if you are a fan, you’ll find much to enjoy. The movie traces Leonard Nimoy’s early years as an actor, knocking around Hollywood and working odd jobs while he waits — and waits — for a break.
In copious archival interview footage, Nimoy says that before “Star Trek,” he had never worked on a movie or TV show for more than two weeks. When Spock came along, he was ready.
Present-day interviews include surviving cast members of the original series, led by William Shatner, to the crew of the current movie reboot: Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, and the actor who plays the new Spock, Zachary Quinto.
Adam Nimoy uses his own experiences growing up as the son of Spock, possibly in a way that’s a tad indulgent. However, this leads to an oddball moment: We see Adam Nimoy soul-searching about quarrels and estrangements he had with his father over the years, and then cut to the person he’s been talking to — and it’s Zachary Quinto. Spilling your emotions to a surrogate father/Spock? That’s a scene that requires a psychiatrist to interpret.
The movie admirably notes Leonard Nimoy’s non-Spock projects — his theater work, his great turn in the 1978 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” For those of us who savor the man’s earnest but tone-deaf exercises in pop-music song stylings, this period is skipped over far too quickly.
There are hints about how alcohol might have helped derail his promising directing career — which included, lest we forget, the smash hit “Three Men and a Baby.”
Twenty years after his first memoir, Nimoy wrote another one called “I Am Spock.” He really wasn’t Spock, not entirely; Nimoy appears to have been a man of deep feeling, in contrast to Spock. It was Spock’s highly rational intellectualism that made him an alien in our world, not the fact that he was from Vulcan. That character will never be less than fascinating.
“For the Love of Spock” (2½ stars)
This portrait of Leonard Nimoy (directed by his son Adam) has the air of a home-movie, but fans will still find it fascinating. We hear plenty from the late actor and lots from various “Star Trek” participants, all of which confirms Nimoy will be forever associated with his most famous role.
Rating: Not rated, probably PG
Showing: SIFF Cinema Uptown