Leonard Nimoy pursued an early film role so hard he almost got arrested

He wanted to be in a Western. Instead, they called in the cavalry.

Hollywood in the 1950s was no place for Spock. Masculine bravado was the flavor du jour, and Leonard Nimoy's skinny, gangly image didn't fit in with the prevailing onscreen vision. Marlon Brando was the biggest star in town, and his white t-shirt and jeans "tough guy" image contrasted greatly with what Nimoy was able to portray. Still, the future half-Vulcan starman doggedly pursued his big break-out role. 

According to John Micklos' Leonard Nimoy: A Star's Trek, an early step forward came when a friend of Nimoy's earned a role in the 1950 Western film Dallas. Encouraged, Nimoy arranged to audition for the same movie. He was told that he'd get a screen test at the studio. Even if he didn't get the part in Dallas, he could hold onto the screen test to secure future roles. Nimoy anxiously awaited first contact from the movie's producers.

When he was finally summoned to the studio, though, he was ordered to do a short reading for the role. So, rather than have the benefit of a screen test he could use to prove his merit for other jobs later down the road, Nimoy was put on the spot for a live readthrough without the context of other actors or any real camera direction or blocking. 

Unfortunately, he did not get the part.

Nimoy called the producer to try to get him to change his mind. Early in his career, Nimoy was eager to the point of stubbornness and refused to let the role slip through his fingers. He'd gotten so close, only to have one producer's decision stand in the way of the rest of his career. He was determined, almost to a fault.

When the producer didn't return Nimoy's calls, the young actor took further measures into his own hands. He drove over to the office and waited for the producer to come out. Eventually, the producer's staff threatened to call the police, and Nimoy was forced to leave.

What may have seemed like the loss of a lifetime may have been one of the best near-misses in Hollywood history. How would things have gone differently had Nimoy found success in 1950s Westerns? Would anyone have seen him as Spock in the following decade? Would he have even been offered the role? There's no telling what kind of butterfly effect the movie may have had on the course of his career. 

Luckily for Star Trek fans everywhere, we live in this timeline, wherein he worked harder than ever for the next 16 years before boarding the USS Enterprise.

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bdettlingmetv 2 months ago
"Butterfly effect"? I can see "snowball effect" but this....??
The expression is derived from a short story called “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury, written in 1952, where a man goes back in time to hunt a dinosaur and accidentally steps on a butterfly. When he returns to his time, he finds his present has changed. A very good story. You should look it up and read it.
KJExpress 2 months ago
Very young. He was only 19 in 1950.
Runeshaper 2 months ago
Nimoy was a solid Spock! Props to the MeTV writer for relaying that if he had gotten that western role, perhaps Nimoy would not have gone where no man has gone before...
JHP 2 months ago
Loved him as the murderous surgeon on columbo!
texasluva JHP 2 months ago
"A Stitch in Crime" That was a good one. He thought Columbo was fooled and quite happy he'd gotten away with it. That until "There's just one more thing" and Columbo nails him.
JHP texasluva 2 months ago
The two actors that played the perp great were Jack Cassidy and Robert Culp
Marshall_Kolchak JHP 2 months ago
I would add Martin Landau and Patrick McGoohan as well.
JHP Marshall_Kolchak 2 months ago
agreed - even landau's twin:)
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