In Edward Gross & Mark A. Altman’s book “The Fifty Year Mission — The First 25 Years,” director Joseph Sargent recalled how unhappy Leonard Nimoy was while they were filming the very first episode they all shot together, “The Corbomite Maneuver”:
“He said, ‘How can I play a character without emotion? I don’t know how to do that. I’m going to be on one note throughout the entire series.’ I agreed with him and we worked like hell to give him some emotional context, but Gene [Roddenberry] said, ‘No way, the very nature of this character’s contribution is that he isn’t an earthling. As a Vulcan, he is intellect over emotion.’ Leonard was ready to quit because he didn’t know how he was going to do it.”
Nimoy is also quoted in this book saying that his way into Spock was when he realized that the Vulcan did have emotion, he just controlled that emotion. That gave the actor something to work with, although he did say he found himself randomly bursting into tears during meetings because “the emotions just had to come out somewhere.”
Luckily for us, Nimoy didn’t quit and we are left with one of the most iconic figures in pop culture storytelling ever created, thanks, in large part, to Nimoy’s ability to make a seemingly emotionless character resonate as much, or more, than his wildly emotional onscreen counterparts. I mean, if you’ve seen “The Wrath of Kahn” and didn’t choke up at, “I have been, and always shall be, your friend,” do you even have a heart?