Ethan Peck Leaned Heavily On Leonard Nimoy's Voice To Learn How To Play Spock

Spock, the half-Vulcan science officer of the USS Enterprise under two captains, may be the greatest science fiction character of all time. A man torn between two worlds. One of the galaxy's greatest minds. A brilliant leader and researcher. A master of his home world's psychic arts. A brilliant vessel for deadpan comedy. Spock is everything and anything that is great about "Star Trek," an icon recognizable to millions of people who have never even seen a second of any "Trek" movie or show. 

So, no pressure for actor Ethan Peck, right?

The actor made his debut as the younger, slightly less experienced Mr. Spock in season 2 of "Star Trek: Discovery," and he reprises the role in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," where he works on board the Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), years before some guy named Jim Kirk would take command. Like Zachary Quinto before him (who played Spock in the recent big screen reboot movies), Peck acquits himself well. His take on Spock is fresh without feeling too different, hitting the notes you'd expect while finding new ones that only became obvious after decades of pop culture scrutiny. It's a wonderful performance.

And Peck learned from the best, telling me in a recent interview that he leaned heavily on the work of original Spock actor Leonard Nimoy to nail the role.

Learning from the best

Peck admits that, in the early days of playing Spock, he would lean heavily on Nimoy to find the character's voice:

"In the beginning, when I was working on 'Discovery,' I really would reference Leonard Nimoy's performance quite often. At a certain point, I stopped sort of reaching back into that, all those performances from those original series of episodes, because I wanted it to be my own thing. And I feel like his voice is so inculcated in my mind and my performance when I'm preparing for this. So I feel like I check in still with that voice."

The results really do speak for themselves. Peck isn't playing Leonard Nimoy, but he is clearly playing Spock. It's a fresh take, but one that exists alongside the classic iteration, and never contradicts it. 

Peck also touched on what so many guest actors get wrong about playing Vulcans on "Star Trek." Sure, the Vulcan way of life eschews emotion in favor of cold, hard logic, but that doesn't mean Vulcans can't be funny or pointed or have strong things to say. Hell, some of Nimoy's greatest Spock moments find him utilizing micro-expressions to suggest bemusement or anger without actually showing it. Peck leaned into this:

"In the beginning it was really kind of like, who am I speaking to? Am I feeling open with them? Is this a moment of pure logic? Is this a time to be emotionless and calculating, coldly so? Or is this a moment with Michael Burnham, let's say, or Captain Pike, when I can be a little bit more expressive and let something through, or can't help myself but to let something through? So it was more strategized in the beginning."

Now, Peck (who is currently filming season 2 of "Strange New Worlds") says he can "live in the moment as Spock," having truly nailed his take on the character. Leonard Nimoy would be proud.

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" premiers on May 5, 2022.