Leonard Nimoy Turned Down A Power Position For Star Trek: The Next Generation

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

leonard nimoy

Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation were understandably overjoyed when legendary actor Leonard Nimoy appeared as Spock in the two-part episode “Unification.”

However, very few fans realize that Nimoy was nearly an executive producer for the show, helping to guide its sci-fi storytelling from the very beginning.

Leonard Nimoy Turned Down Offer

According to Mark Altman’s excellent book The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek, Nimoy turned down the offer from Paramount because “I just didn’t want to be doing that for the next two or three years of my life.”

Still Liked Star Trek: The Next Generation

In this excerpt from the book, Leonard Nimoy clarifies that he didn’t decline Paramount’s generous offer because he thought Star Trek: The Next Generation would crash and burn.

That’s an important clarification because the actor had previously distanced himself from the franchise on some memorable occasions.

For example, he declined to come back as Spock for the first planned franchise spinoff, Star Trek: Phase Two, and he even wrote a book called I Am Not Spock.

Wanted More Time

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But Nimoy’s career choices certainly underscore that he didn’t want to distance himself from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He simply wanted the time to pursue more of the projects he found (ahem) fascinating.

Ironically enough, Paramount may only have itself to blame for why Leonard Nimoy didn’t want to be an executive producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Star Trek Director

leonard nimoy

After Spock died in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Nimoy ended up directing both Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (which brought his famous character back) and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (which was the most financially successful franchise film until the Star Trek 2009 reboot).

Nimoy enjoyed directing and was obviously quite good at it, and his first non-Trek film, Three Men and a Baby came out in 1987, the same year that Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered.

TNG Would Have Been Better?

star trek two-part

Leonard Nimoy directed three more films after that, with the last one (Holy Matrimony) coming out in 1994, the same year that Star Trek: The Next Generation ended after seven seasons.

So, it seems clear the talented actor wanted to branch out and explore his growing skills as a director. If he had been an executive producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, those first two seasons might have been better.

Then again, if he had clashed with franchise creator Gene Roddenberry (as so many writers and producers did in the early days of the show), he might have stopped appearing in Star Trek shows and films altogether.

Reprising Spock

leonard nimoy spock

Fortunately for fans and film lovers everywhere, Leonard Nimoy reprised his character as Spock for the reboot films Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness.

Not only did this confirm that he still had a great love for the franchise, but it allowed for a kind of formal passing of the baton from this veteran of The Original Series to young Spock actor Zachary Quinto and the rest of the reboot crew.

Sadly, Nimoy’s death prevented him from appearing in the final reboot film Star Trek: Beyond, but he leaves behind a powerful creative legacy that extends far beyond the iconic Vulcan that he brought to life way back in 1966.