Leonard Nimoy Almost Directed The Doctor Who TV Movie

The 1996 made-for-TV movie "Doctor Who: The Movie" isn't exactly something most people would write home about, but over the last 25 or so years, time has been kind to it as new generations of Whovians have found something worth celebrating. "Doctor Who" has been around since 1963, and has experienced several waves of style shifting, reinvention, and approaches to storytelling. During the 1990s, fans saw Paul McGann picking up where Sylvester McCoy left off roughly 15 years prior. The TV film was a back-door pilot, created as an unsuccessful attempt to kickstart the series back up after its 1989 cancellation. Sadly, it didn't work, but it did lay the groundwork for the 2005 revival starring Christopher Eccleston, which has since evolved with four subsequent Doctors, and a fifth arriving soon.

Screenwriter Matthew Jacobs and director Vanessa Yuille are set to release the documentary "Doctor Who Am I," which tells the story of "An infamous screenwriter for the 'Doctor Who' sci-fi series reluctantly dragged back into the American 'Doctor Who' universe." Jacobs wrote the original screenplay for "Doctor Who: The Movie," and is now coming to terms with the way American fans have embraced his so-called epic failure. With the new documentary due out soon, the original TV film's producer Philip Segal has been on the press circuits. As he noted in an interview with Radio Times, director Geoffrey Sax wasn't the sole choice to helm the film. As it turns out, sci-fi legend Leonard Nimoy almost directed "Doctor Who: The Movie."

Nimoy was excited by the possibility

Obviously Nimoy is synonymous with his iconic turn as Spock in "Star Trek," but Nimoy had directed plenty of films by that point in the mid-'90s. Not only had he directed "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock," and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," but also the comedy "Three Men and a Baby" and the TV movie "Vincent." Segal said that he had several meetings with Nimoy, who desperately wanted to direct the film. "I met with him at Amblin [Entertainment], and we had wonderful conversations," he said. "He was genuinely excited about the possibility." Given the sci-fi legacies of both "Star Trek" and "Doctor Who," Nimoy seemed like a shoe-in for the position, but broadcast station politics had to come and ruin the party again.

"FOX did not want him to do it," Segal explained. "They were concerned it looked very kitsch to go, 'Aren't we clever? We've got Spock from 'Star Trek' directing.'" Segal said that the only way the station would have allowed him to take the directing job would have been if he also took on a role in the film, likely as The Master, which ultimately went to Eric Roberts. "That was just insulting to Leonard, because that wasn't the object of the exercise," Segal said. 

There's no way of predicting whether or not "Doctor Who: The Movie" would have been a hit had Nimoy taken the job, but it certainly couldn't have hurt the film's longevity. After all, Nimoy didn't even direct the film and yet we're talking about how cool it would have been over two decades later.