Leonard Nimoy speaks out: Why Spock approved of LSD and ‘dirty movies’

Throughout his life, the actor Leonard Nimoy appeared to be always open to discussing nearly everything in his life. He answered questions frankly and honestly on subjects as diverse as space travel, photography, or his own personal tastes in music or books. He answered these questions in a seemingly calm and rational way. His ability to do so was most possibly down to the very real personality changes brought on by playing Mr. Spock on hit TV series Star Trek. This was something Nimoy touched upon in an interview with TV Star Parade magazine in January 1968, where he discussed his thoughts about adult movies and the liberating potential of psychoactive drugs.

In the article “Leonard Nimoy Speaks Out on LSD, Religion and Dirty Movies—an unblushingly honest confession as told to Roger Elwood,” the actor was interviewed in the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel. He is described as being “relaxed and comfortable” and sipping from a “glass of ginger liquid.” Who knows what was in this amber nectar but the main interest here was the actor’s comments on LSD and “dirty movies,” as Elwood wrote:

And so is the topic of LSD. The self-hallucinatory drug. The ticket to a trip somewhere at the farthest reaches of man’s intellect. Or so its proponents say without telling you of the dangers, the obstacles on the road to mental Utopia.

Leonard is especially outspoken on the subject, apparently one to which he has devoted a great deal of time and serious thought.

“It is a useful tool in the hands of proper medical experts,” he told me. “I am convinced, as a result of reports that I have read, that it will bring about some very useful effects in certain instances and under suitable and necessary medical controls. However, as it is being used by so many young people as a means of escape and personal investigation without control, I consider it rather dangerous.”

But Mr. Spock wasn’t finished there.

He paused, obviously thinking of his own children and hoping that, as they got older, they wouldn’t be similarly imperiled.

Then, clearing his throat, he continued, “There have been too many unsettling reports of young people using it without the necessary supervision and having difficulty recuperating from the trip. In many cases, I believe that young people resort to drugs with the excuse that it will help develop their minds, whereas they haven’t done the necessary work involved for themselves so that this could happen.

“The point is—they are looking for a drug or pill which will do the work for them, and this attitude in life is disastrous whether LSD is involved or not. The drugs can, I understand, be properly used, when the essential mental climate and conditions are already present—however, I believe in natural development processes of the mind. The creative process for me has always operated best at the very conscious level—in other words, only when I’m in complete control of my own thinking do I feel that I am creating at my best.”

As a sidebar, it’s worth noting that Nimoy was so in “control” of his personal life during the making of the original Star Trek series that he became (by his own admission) an alcoholic and ended up in rehab. This may have been as a result of Nimoy’s identifying with the character of Mr. Spock. He later claimed acting Spock twelve hours, five days a week, impacted on his personality making him more rational but less emotional.
William Shatner, his Star Trek co-star, described Nimoy as a raging alcoholic who had become disillusioned with fame:

Leonard was an alcoholic. He kept this a secret while we were filming the TV show but much later, when he was in recovery, he talked about the problem publicly.

He wanted to save people the pain that he had endured. He started drinking heavily around 1967, during the second series of Star Trek. He had always enjoyed a glass or two of wine after filming, but gradually the ritual became so important that it took over his whole personality.

When he directed, a secretary was on standby to bring him a drink in a paper cup, the moment the last shot was in the can.

He hid this from the cast, never allowing it to affect his work. But on days off, he did nothing but booze. He’d break open the beer at 11am and drink steadily, until he passed out around 4pm.

He wouldn’t regain consciousness until the next day, when he started drinking again.

Part of his problem was the sheer disappointment of stardom. He had been a struggling actor since his teens, making ends meet through various jobs, including driving a cab — he once ferried John F. Kennedy to the Beverly Hilton, where the then Massachusetts senator, distracted, walked off without paying.

Nimoy used his experience of alcoholism along with what he had learned thru playing Spock to help addicts at the Synanon rehab or “reconstruction center” in Santa Monica, as he explained in another interview the same year “How Leonard Nimoy Helps Addicts Live Again”:

“Spock gives me something to say about the human race ...{snip!}...The role gives me a position I enjoy—that of a guy who is an observer of human behavior. He’s fascinating—an alien who knows things other people don’t know.”

On the subject of movies becoming more vulgar—that is having more adult content or nudity, Nimoy said:

“I believe that, in motion pictures today, we are seeing the widest possible choice of material in that we’re seeing films which are made for sheer entertainment to satisfy the needs of people who do not want to go to the theatre to think or be aroused or educated but simply to be entertained.

“There are also some excellent films being made which deal very realistically and penetratingly with the nature of man. Some people may find these vulgar. On the other hand, others find them quite stimulating and, therefore, look forward to and are excited about them.

“At the very lowest scale, there are, of course, some films which are made entirely for sensationalistic purposes, which stand in a class by themselves, and need not be discussed any further.

“However, some of the very fine movies being made in the United States and, more particularly, in Italy and France by people such as Fellini and Antonioni are very stimulating and exciting because they reflect interesting points of view on man’s condition and the nature of the world we live in.”

Via Beyond Spock.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Bank of Canada urges ‘Star Trek’ fans to stop ‘Spocking’ their fivers
Impressive lifelike sculpture of Mr. Spock

Posted by Paul Gallagher
09:04 am



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