In a recent Tel Aviv seminar, Leonard Nimoy -- famous as "Star Trek's" logical Mr. Spock -- described the Vulcan way he behaved while playing Golda Meir's husband in a 1982 TV movie.
"I had a question and the director blurted, 'It doesn't make any difference, you're wrong for this part anyway,'" the 74-year-old actor-director said. "But I just walked away, let it fizzle out and went back to work."
Nimoy -- who was Emmy nominated for that role -- was back in Israel as part of the Jewish Federation's Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership film master class program. During his five-day trip, he conducted two "Inside the Actor's Studio"-style seminars for student actors and directors.
Nimoy said he was eager to participate because he finds current Israeli cinema to be "fresh, well-executed and relevant to the culture," compared to the "primitive" films he viewed in the early 1980s. He was equally impressed by students at the Beit Zvi drama school, who asked questions such as "How did you approach your work?" and "How did you find your way into a character?"
Nimoy, in turn, described his use of Stanislavsky's Method, as taught by the late Jeff Corey, in which an actor uses personal experiences to emotionally tap into a scene. The technique also emphasizes finding major themes in a piece to determine a character's connection to them. Spock, for instance, drew on "Trek's" dissection of individuals simultaneously "exploring outside of themselves and achieving self-discovery."
"I also talked a lot about subtext," Nimoy recalled. "For example, what does a character mean when he says the simple words, 'I love you'? Is he saying, 'I love you,' meaning the other person doesn't, or 'I love you,'" because he feels unloved?"
Eventually someone asked why Nimoy gave up acting and directing in favor of photography and philanthropy eight years ago. The artist traced his decision to sitting, for hours in a hot trailer in Morocco, flies buzzing about, while playing the prophet Samuel in the TV movie, "David." "I decided, 'I'm done with this,'" he said, in decidedly un-Spock-like tones. "'There's no need to continue, because I've had all the creative expression a person could ever have dreamed of in a career that's spanned more than 50 years."
The Nimoy Concert Series presents Sheshbesh, The Arab-Jewish ensemble of the Israel Philharmonic, June 26, 3 p.m., at Temple Israel of Hollywood. For more information, call (213) 805-4261. For more information about the Tel Aviv-Los Angeles Partnership, visit www.jewishla.org/html/io_partnership.htm.