Mantz Rantz: Where No Mantz Has Gone Before

Leonard Nimoy gives the Vulcan salute Leonard Nimoy gives the Vulcan salute

I’ve been working for Access Hollywood for almost 9 years. In that time, I’ve interviewed a lot of celebrities, and I learned very early on not to get star-struck. That would have been the kiss of death to my career as a producer and, later, as a film critic.

But then there was the new “Star Trek.” And with that came Leonard Nimoy, who has been one of my lifelong heroes after playing Spock for 43 years. When I knew I was going to interview him, I got really excited. Then I got nervous, which is — dare I say it — logical, given how much “Star Trek” has meant to me for, well, all my life. (Without giving my age away, let’s just say it rhymes with “shmorty!”)

When I sat down for the interview, I showed Nimoy that I was wearing a “Star Trek” tee shirt, and I explained that I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn’t a huge “Star Trek” fan. I also explained that “Star Trek” changed my life, and if it wasn’t for “Star Trek,” I wouldn’t be where I am now — living in LA and reviewing movies for Access Hollywood. He then proceeded to call security, and I was dragged kicking and screaming from the Four Seasons.

Seriously, I told him that although I was really excited, I was also really nervous to see new actors playing the characters that I’ve loved all my life. But then I saw the movie, and I loved it — it’s a “Star Trek” movie for everyone. He’s very happy that the new movie is appealing to so many people outside the fan base, but “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (which he directed, as I pointed out!) also appealed to non-Trekkers. I explained how important it was for “Star Trek” to appeal to everyone, and when I started to quote “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” by saying, “The needs of the many outweigh…” he finished the quote with “…the needs of the few or the one!” We had a moment.

I told him that ever since “Trek” first premiered on September 8, 1966, and ever since the first movie opened on December 7, 1979 — he was impressed that I knew the dates! — a lot of words have been used to describe the series — inspiring, compelling, idealistic, passionate. But this is the FIRST time people have called Star Trek SEXY! He loved that, and he agreed, especially since young Spock has a romance with… SPOILER… Uhura! A first, since that didn’t happen in the Original Series or previous movies. This movie is definitely going younger, and women will love it, too.

Leonard said it was hard playing Spock again for the first time in 18 years. So much had gone on in the “Trek” world without him, and he felt left out. But he also felt a big sense of closure by making this movie.

He added it was really weird seeing Zachary Quinto dressed up as Spock for the first time. But he did a great job, as did Chris Pine as Kirk. Both actors were like sons to him.

He talked about his last day on the set. He tripped and hurt himself. His nose started to bleed, and they offered to stop shooting. But he was feeling emotional about it being his last day, so he wanted to keep going.

Finally, I asked if he was sad that William Shatner, who of course played Captain Kirk in the show and movies, wasn’t in the movie, or if he thought he should have done it. He kind of dodged the question by saying that he was having dinner with him tonight. I asked if Shatner was going to the premiere, and he said he wasn’t sure. I told him to convince him to go, because it’s a great movie, and he’ll love it.

I was wrapped for time, and I told him that even though we only had 10 minutes together, “I have been and always shall be your friend — Live long and Prosper!” We gave each other the Vulcan salute, and we had another moment. He then proceeded to call security, and I was dragged kicking and screaming from the Four Seasons.

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