What lured Leonard Nimoy back to 'Fringe?'
May 11th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

What lured Leonard Nimoy back to 'Fringe?'

Two years ago we spoke to Leonard Nimoy about what was to be his final acting role on "Fringe."

Just over a year ago, Nimoy returned to voice the role of William Bell in a partially-animated episode of the cult sci-fi series.

One "Transformers" movie and one "Big Bang Theory" episode later (both voice roles as well, mind you), viewers were stunned to see Nimoy return once again to "Fringe" in his first appearance on-screen in two years. So what brought him back?

"I think 'Fringe' is a wildly imaginative show," he told reporters on Thursday. "The writers and the creators of the show, the producers, are very bright and very theatrical. All the characters are fleshed out wonderfully and the chemistry amongst the cast is terrific. I wanted to be part of this project."

Nimoy - who noted that he had to keep his "Fringe" appearance a secret for a few months - was also attracted to the "challenges" of the new William Bell, who is a lot more sinister in this new universe of season four.

"It was explained to me that we’re opening up a whole world and a whole new can of peas, so to speak, and William Bell is being recreated as something else," said Nimoy, "That intrigued me, and I was excited to go back to work."

Nimoy - best known, of course, for "Star Trek" - had some very high praise indeed for the cast, including John Noble, whose Walter Bishop is an old colleague of "Bellie's."

"I told the company when I finished shooting on this particular episode a few weeks ago, I said, 'You are superior company. I have never worked with a better company in my entire 60-year career.'"

Nimoy also sees the parallels between "Fringe" and "Trek."

"I can tell you that when 'Star Trek' was put on a Friday night, which is a date night, not a good night for a show like this, it did very, very poorly," he said. "'Fringe' has the same kind of audience, a very intense audience, a small audience, but very intense and very committed. I think it’s commendable that the people at Fox decided to honor that commitment."

When CNN's Jason Carroll caught up with Nimoy recently at the final flight of the space shuttle Enterprise, Nimoy told him "we're talking," when asked about doing more "Star Trek." Nimoy later tweeted that he talks to "Trek" director (and "Fringe" executive producer) J.J. Abrams and actor Zachary Quinto all the time, as they have grown to be friends.

"They’ve got a great company of people replacing all of us [in the 2009 'Star Trek,' where Nimoy appeared, and next year's sequel, which just wrapped]. I don’t think they need me, frankly. It’s flattering to be talked about, but I just don’t think they need me," he said, praising the performances of Quinto and "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch who has a major role in the sequel.

On the other hand, Nimoy said he is possibly open to reprising his "Fringe" role during its final season. And what about more acting?

"The door is not completely closed. Obviously, I said a couple of years ago that I was retiring and here I am talking about a performance that I just gave. There are certain special situations that come along that can intrigue me. This one did. It’s nice to get off the couch and throw the clothes on and a little makeup and go back to work every once in a while. I still enjoy it."

soundoff (79 Responses)
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    May 17, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. KW

    I enjoyed Nimoy's work on Columbo.

    May 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tinisha

    @Svann im sorry but if you are a die hard fan there is not way that you could predict everything that is going to happen in this show. Of course she was going to be pregnant. Die hard fans know that Olivia had a child. FIrst it was early on in the show and then just a few weeks ago we find out that they (Peter and Olivia) had a kid. One of the things that draws people to Fringe is the fact that it is not predicitable. The stuff that happens to this show is so amazing and well written that it is really hard to try to predict whats going to happen. Hell sometimes you have to watch it twice just to make sure you get everything. I have been watching this show since it started and I honestly didnt know she was gonna say she was pregnant. I actually thought she was gonna tell him that he old memories can back and she was no longer his (Peter's Olivia) So i was pleasently surprosed when she said she was pregnant. I actaully cheered.
    By the way to al lthe fringe fans out there maybe I missed it but what happened to the first baby that Olivia had. Im just confused by that one.

    May 14, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      @Tinisha The baby that Peter had with 'Fauxlivia' never existed after Peter was removed from the timeline. That's why the baby was never once mentioned in season 4 and why September said that Peter had a child with the wrong Olivia. He was always destined to have one with our Olivia.

      May 16, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  6. TMATL

    FOX – Renew FRINGE! It is a great show, the whole cast is fanatastic and Leonard Nimoy coming back was a great surprise! Please keep the show on another season!

    May 14, 2012 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. Grumpster

    Wow....that twist on Nimoy's character was something I never expected. It's awesome he wanted to be apart of Fringe again....just one more reason how this show is one of the best on TV now. Can't wait for Season 5.

    May 14, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. JellyBean

    Awesome show. Just finished season three.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Allyson

    I just finished catching up on the last 3 episodes on Hulu.........I don't have cable and I have to wait a while because FOX has some idiotic extended waiting period between airing and internet access. Quite frankly, even if you don't understand every episode or the reasoning behind the events, it's light years ahead of most network drivel. I can't believe L&O:SVU was just renewed for the 14th season...standard TV cop crap.

    May 14, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Allyson, if you get Hulu Plus for a mere $8 a month, you won't have to wait. That's what I have. I don't have cable either and it's so inexpensive... skip two coffees.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. Johnny Cage

    Fringe has to be the best show on TV since Lost... in terms of Sci-Fi. I'm so sad that they only renewed it for a half season next year but im also pumped that they at least gave us another 12 episodes! Fox, you should renew this for a full 5th season AND a 6th and then end it. 6 seasons is about the length this series requires to be fully enjoyed. Ever go on an awesome roller coaster except it was too short?

    May 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mcp123

    When is someone going to turn the Foundation series into film.... now that.... would be awesome.

    May 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kevin H

    When you're Nimoy you can pick and choose. I love "retirement". Hmmmm – now let me see the script – and how much was that? And how many days of shooting? What I can write the contract? Nimoy is a great guy – but less face facts – in Hollywood the man is a demigod. He can have whatever he wants whenever he wants it. I feel for his poor manager because they probably spend all their time filtering out the bad projects and whittling down to one or two that interest him. Leonard Nimoy is one of the best actors in Hollywood. I admire him, I love his work – and I wish I had a smidgen of his talent in my chosen profession. A true "Mensch".

    May 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. KidIndigo

    Where can I find "The Fringe" and start watching? I'm embarrassed to say, I've missed the whole thing. Oops.

    May 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • abcdxyz

      Just go to your local library, or better yet, Netflix.

      May 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • tinisha

      First its not "the Fringe" its just Fringe and it comes on Fox on Fridays at 9pm pacific time. ITs a great show. Too bad you did not catch it from the beginning. Try catching the old epidodes on Hulu. I guarntee you will love it.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CiscoKid

    So Spock is alive or not alive? I can't keep is straight. Confusing life status. -CK

    May 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dadslife83

    I, too, love Fringe. My world has come to a stop for the last 4 years for this show. Fringe has not wasted my time at all, meaning, every minute of every show has been meaningful and lovely. Can I gush anymore than this? Probably not. This seasons finale was a whole strings of "wait a minutes" and WTH and feeling tremendous that there will be a season 5.

    May 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Nancy


    May 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christine


      He's got a great voice and way to him, I wish he'd done more acting over the years.

      May 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Sheldon

    Perhaps someone can explain this for me, but the show lost me after it decided that Peter no longer has to "go back" to his own timeline. Half of the season led to us think he had to "go back" to his original timeline, but suddenly that no longer becomes an issue after Olivia starts having the original Olivia's memories? Isn't Peter still in the wrong timeline? Can someone explain this to me???

    May 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • SSH

      Not sure if I'm right, but as I understood it, he assumed that he was in the wrong timeline and needed to go back to "his" timeline. In truth, there was only one timeline. Two universes, one timeline. He was "erased" from existence. When he returned, they suggest that his love for Olivia, and her love for him, is what made her memories of the "original" timeline before he was replaced return.

      May 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walter

      Perfectly said, SSH. That's my understanding, too.

      May 14, 2012 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  18. Kyle

    Fringe is the best show on television, and I was pumped to see Nimoy back as William Bell. It's a shame that Fringe is not more popular than it is, but those who "get it", really get it.

    May 13, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  19. Paul

    One old missionary's definition of retirement: Moving to Florida, sitting on a park bench using one hand to play with the other, and writing postcards that say, "Come down here and watch me die."

    May 13, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  20. MalcolmXcrement

    He's a good man. I raised three children using the sage advice from his book.

    May 13, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  21. GonzoG

    Leonard is one of those that can't actually "retire". He's in relatively good health for his age. His mind is still sharp.

    He gets bored 'puttering' around the house. THAT'S why he went back.

    May 13, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  22. Suz

    I've loved the show! I've watched from the start.... I fell in love with Walter...... ok his licorice eating character..... and Peter is just too adorable for his own good..... It was great to see Leonard Nimoy on the show because I am a huge Star Trek fan ....... ok I can't bare to watch some of the stuff.... really???? digging around in Olivia's head?? ok a bit gruesome for me.... but I hate to see this series end....... so many of the really great shows are gone..... we're left with all these stupid reality shows!

    May 13, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Suz67

      Suz~~I agree with every word you wrote in your post and feel exactly the same way! And we both go by "Suz"! Just had to tell you that! So psyched that Nimoy willo return to this wonderful show Fringe!!! Take care!

      May 13, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  23. Gary Sac

    I vote for John Noble to get an Emmy, Golden Globe, and whatever else he can. He has been AMAZING the past few years!!

    I certainly hope those that make the nominations do not overlook this fine actor.

    May 13, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  24. PhoenixMike

    I was very happy to see Leonard Nimoy return to "Fringe." But I cannot overstate my love of John Noble's performance as Walter Bishop. The episode where Walter and Walternate (also Noble) close the portal between the two universes was terrific, and the scene in the season finale where he finally gets Astrid's name right...well, it had me grinning and tearing up at the same time. Can't wait for the final 13 episodes!

    May 12, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Mary B.

    We (my family and I) have watched Fringe since the beginning. We agree that it's almost impossible to start watching this show now or in the middle some place. If you really want to see it and "get it", you need to rent and watch it in its entirety. I am a sci-fi junky but I hate really campy sci-fi. I used to be a die-hard X-Files fan as well. Fringe is the first show FOIX has had since the X-Files that I've ever continued watching. The show, the plots, and most importantly the acting are incredible. It's very rare to find a cast that gels together like this bunch and where it seems completely genuine. Other than the cast on Criminal Minds, this cast is terrific. I can't tell you how very much we will miss Fringe when it is done and I honestly dread the ending because I'm so afraid "Walter" will die or something terrible like that will happen. I know. It's just a show. But what a terrific show it is. And, yes, thank you to Fox for renewing because we would be so disappointed if you hadn't and made a quickie ending to the season this year. There will never be another show like Fringe.

    May 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Steve-O

    Fringe is a fantastic show. Too bad it's slated for only one more season. Nimoy's unfortunate physical looks as he's aged only adds to the creepiness of the show.

    May 12, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • dmadam

      Whats wrong with his "unfortunate looks" he looks better than most I see for his age. Grate actor and person.

      May 12, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • SBaySteve

      Totally agree. And I also believe they may underrate their audience size since many of us DVR or TIVO this show so we can relish and re-watch it. One of the best shows ever.

      May 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  27. DocSmith

    Nimoy is an asset to any show he graces. "Fringe" is slated to become one of those iconic shows fans will talk about for decades to come. The writing, photography, direction - and especially the acting - are superb. John Noble is a major actor whose every performance is a textbook of what acting should be. This program is the culmination of what the pioneers of science fiction - Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Leinster, and John Campbell - strove for.

    May 12, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  28. Jason Glugla

    It looks like they set this episode to be a series finale because it just about closed up everything, with just a little left at the end for one more short season if they chose.

    May 12, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      Fringe has been renewed for what they've said will be the final season.

      It seemed clear to me that they wrote this episode back before they were sure of the renewal. So it was created in a way that they could leave off the cliffhanger/twist scene at the very end and the series would feel complete. Yet because it was renewed they were able to include that last scene to hint at what's coming for the final season.

      I wish that more shows would do that! At the moment, I'm smarting over a number of series cancellations that were just announced, most of which have no sense of resolution at all.

      As for Fringe, it is a very smartly written, thought provoking series that I enjoy immensely. It was a delightful surprise to see Bell return and the way that the producers set it up was brilliant. I think the final twist at the end was a hint at the Observer World future that we had a single-episode flash forward for. That episode had no real resolution at all and I think the final season will focus on the team's fight to prevent the Observers from taking over. It also makes sense for them to use that as a final season overreaching plot since the Observers are the one big mystery left and something that has been being set up from the very first episode of the show.

      May 12, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • flashtrum

      They actually shot an alternate episode in the event that they were cancelled (or more likely alternative endings to this season finale.) Can't wait for 13 more stories!

      May 12, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Aardie

      I don't think they wrapped everything up. There was that episode from the future last month where the bald guys from the future have come back to take over the Earth. I think this is what was alluded to at the end of the season finale about "they're coming". How about future Walter going evil again when he gets the piece of his brain back. Looking forward to next season.

      May 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tzedekh

      They filmed two endings - one to be used in case the series was renewed for an abbreviated fifth season, the other in the event of cancellation.

      May 14, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  29. erich2112x

    Easily one of the best actors of our time.

    May 12, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  30. Dan

    Fringe is the best scifi since BSG.

    May 12, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  31. minkowski

    How come we were never introduced to the William Bell from the second Earth? The one living on that Earth was from our Earth and merely visiting. So where's the one from that world?

    May 12, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Isaac

      The William Bell from the other universe died as a child. If I remember correctly, from a bicycle accident.

      May 12, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  32. Jt_flyer

    For the record, I'll watch anything Nimoy does.

    May 12, 2012 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  33. RockQ

    My wife told me about this show 2 yrs ago...I've been hooked ever since! I heard rumors that FOX was going to cancel it. PLEASE DON"T! This show is one of the best sci-fi shows on network TV!

    May 12, 2012 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
  34. kripkeownsme

    I audibly gasped when Leonard Nimoy appeared on Fringe again, but I am so happy he did so. Any true fan of this show knows exactly why he came back again; he and John Noble are poetry in motion acting off of each other. I was certain we would only "see" William Bell again if he was inside Olivia, and I fervently hope we see him again in the final season! What an absolute treat the final two episodes of the season have been. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    May 12, 2012 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  35. Dude

    I know Mr. Nimoy is tired of being remember for just one of his many roles. But, Paris was a great character and he really made the show work.

    I'm sure he's done a lot since then, but . . .

    May 12, 2012 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  36. Ken

    I hope that both Spock and Tuvok Live Long and Prosper.

    May 12, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  37. wes

    spok: Live Long, And Prosper

    May 12, 2012 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  38. Calcommuter

    Not pretending to know what universe they are in, who is a shape shifter or a good or bad person from week to week. But I watch the show every time Fox doesnt put a game on instead. To see William Bell again was a nice touch. Good ending of the season and glad Mr Nimoy still has the drive to act a time or two. And although he wasnt in it, he was part of the best Big Bang Theory, merely by signing a napkin!

    May 12, 2012 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  39. ralph

    Live long and prosper!

    May 12, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  40. paulie

    Lenny is the coolest ever. Happy to see him at it.

    May 12, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  41. svann

    Ugh. I tuned in for the first time because of this article. I dont see what anyone sees in it.

    May 12, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • André

      You just need to watch all of it from the start....season 1.

      May 12, 2012 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
    • kripkeownsme

      Of course you don't, this is a a show steeped in mythology. There's no need to insult long time fans because you can't follow along, though.

      May 12, 2012 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
    • svann

      @kripkeownsme First off its a little sad that you view the fact that someone could have a different opinion than you as an insult. Second, the show was so transparent that I could predict exactly what was going to happen much of the time, even though I had never seen a single episode before this. [spoiler alert!] The part where she told that she was pregnant was supposed to be dramatic? It was shocking not because of the fact but because of the fact that it was so hackneyed. Ill give you that the idea of multiple dimensions collapsing into themselves is interesting but that was not enough to hold the episode.

      May 12, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bemused

      The pregnancy was not a surprise? Good, it wasn't supposed to be. Mainly because Peter and Olivia's future daughter was introduced a couple of episodes earlier. They've pretty much telegraphed it every step of the way. Go back and watch from the beginning; get yourself educated first.

      May 14, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  42. JMorcan

    Many thanks Mr. Nimoy for adding that special quality to the show that only you can bring. Great to see your work again!

    May 12, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  43. trish

    Fringe is a uniquely smart and entertaining show. No surprise that a veteran actor like Nimoy would be interested, despite his age. It's a joy to watch him - and John Noble– on the small screen on such a big show.

    Wish more people were watching.

    May 11, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Jeff

    Leonard is 81 years old.

    May 11, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  45. jaimie

    Good for Nimoy. I have always liked his acting and hope he continues on for many more years to come.

    May 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Larry

    Is it me or does Nimoy look 20 years younger in that picture? The dude's well into his 80s and still making great entertainment.

    May 11, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  47. ToddIll

    Really cool that Mr. Nimoy came back to play an evil William Bell, since I'm pretty sure it was Star Trek's "Mirror, Mirror" episode, and Mr. Nimoy's portrayal of a brutal alternate reality Spock that provided some of the inspiration for Fringe's alternate reality plot twists.

    May 11, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  48. That Other Jean

    Live long and prosper, Mr. Nimoy.

    May 11, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  49. theshoeminator

    Nimoy is the coolest cat ever. I hope he lives to be 200!

    May 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  50. gah

    there are episodes where i despise the writing or the plot or some of the acting but one thing never disappoints – Walter Bishop. John Noble is absolutely amazing.

    May 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Juicy Hudson


    May 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Jeremy

    Fringe is the only broadcast television series worth sitting through all those brutal commercials for. Very inventive, great writing and acting. Great that Fox picked it up for a limited final season (Great work Fox!)

    May 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • MikeyNYC

      I agree! I'm hoping that other broadcast and cable channels will take a cue from Fox and make sure that there is some type of ending or closure to the storylines instead of just yanking a show off the air and leaving viewers frustrated and upset.

      May 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |

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