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By Suzanne

Leonard Nimoy

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

Josh Governale
Leonard Nimoy


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 the call.

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

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 project.

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 that secret?

L. Nimoy Well, how long have I kept it a secret? Is that what youíre asking?

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 her so.

Moderator We have a question from Erik Goldman with

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 Publications.

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 show?

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 youíre asking?

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 Journal.

K. Claudefelter Considering your supposed retirement, whatís leading you to accept small roles like Lazy Song and Big Bang Theory that you were doing?

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

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 themselves.

Moderator We have a question from Jamie Ruby with

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 and why?

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

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 go ahead.

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 plans.

I do still do some of my photography work. I have a photography website. Itís 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 Media.

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 Theory?

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 closing remarks.

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 for coming.

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