Star Trek: How Zachary Quinto's Spock Is Different To Leonard Nimoy's
Here's how Spock portrayed by Zachary Quinto in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek films differs from Spock originated by Leonard Nimoy. The Vulcan Science Officer aboard the Starship Enterprise commanded by Captain James T. Kirk is the signature character of the Star Trek franchise. Leonard Nimoy portrayed Spock from The Original Series' premiere in 1966 until Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013. Before Abrams rebooted the Star Trek movies in 2009, most fans considered it unthinkable that another actor could portray the cool and logical Vulcan - until Zachary Quinto proved otherwise.
Nimoy was the lone, classic Star Trek castmember to appear in the 2009 movie; he was given approval rights over Spock's casting and supported Quinto for the role. At the time, Quinto was best known as the villainous Sylar in the hit NBC series Heroes and he brought that same simmering intensity to the role of the pointy-eared Vulcan. For his part, Nimoy mentored Quinto as Spock and the two actors grew close off-camera. When Nimoy died in early 2015, Quinto attended the memorial service and penned a heartwarming essay for The Guardian, titled "Leonard Nimoy was like a father to me". But for all of the physical similarities Nimoy and Quinto shared - which included Spock's trademark Beatles-like haircut, raised eyebrows, and signature sharp-tipped Vulcan ears - they also played their two versions of Spock differently, while still convincingly conveying they were the same character.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
The most obvious difference is that Quinto's Spock was younger and more emotional than Nimoy's version. Because the arrival of the Romulan named Nero in the 23rd-century caused the destruction of the U.S.S. Kelvin, which led to the death of Kirk's father George (Chris Hemsworth) in 2233, the Kelvin timeline of Abrams' movies accelerated many key events from when they happened in the Prime Universe. One result is that James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) becomes Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise in 2258 - eight years before his counterpart played by William Shatner takes command of the famed starship. Therefore, Spock is more youthful and raw in the Kelvin Timeline, as are Kirk and the entire crew of the Enterprise.
Another huge difference between Quinto's Spock and Nimoy's is their Starfleet career. Quinto's Vulcan never served as Science Officer aboard the Enterprise exploring deep space with Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood). (Nimoy's Spock served under Pike for eleven years, four months, and five days.) Instead, Quinto's Spock became an instructor at Starfleet Academy; by 2258 when he met Jim Kirk, Spock was responsible for programming the Kobayashi Maru test (which Kirk cheated to beat). Quinto's Spock would briefly become Pike's First Officer on the Enterprise and he would watch Nero destroy Vulcan before Kirk eventually took command of the starship.
Nimoy's Spock was bonded for marriage to T'Pring (Arlene Martel) as a child but Quinto's Spock was not. Rather, Spock pursued a romantic relationship with Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), whom he met at Starfleet Academy. They would maintain their relationship after they both took postings aboard the Starship Enterprise, but they ended their love affair in Star Trek Beyond; as Dr. Leonard McCoy (Karl Urban) teased, Uhura dumped him. Nimoy's Spock had his own romantic entanglements during his long life but never with Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). However, Nimoy's Spock took on two female Vulcan proteges: Lt. Saavik (Kirstie Alley), who helped the Enterprise defeat Khan (Ricardo Montalban) and then played a key role in resurrecting Spock, and Lt. Valeris (Kim Cattrell), who betrayed the Federation's burgeoning peace treaty with the Klingons in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
While there were moments where his famed Vulcan resolve was broken, Nimoy's Spock was famously in control of his emotions. Quinto's Vulcan had a harder time compartmentalizing his anger, which he unleashed against Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) in Star Trek Into Darkness when he beat the genetically-engineered warlord into submission. But unlike Nimoy's Spock, who sacrificed his life to save his friends in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Quinto's Spock has not (yet) died to save Kirk and the Enterprise from disaster. Perhaps if Quentin Tarantino's Star Trek 4 achieves liftoff, Quinto's Spock will make the ultimate sacrifice for his friends the way Nimoy's Vulcan did.