When Leonard Nimoy announced his retirement from acting a little under a month ago, Fringe fans found themselves wondering what this would mean for the series. Would William Bell's future appearances only be ditigal, à la "Brown Betty"? Would William Bell be killed off? Would William Bell create a device that would take years off him, and the younger Bell would be portrayed by Zachary Quinto? Or would we finally find out that Bell is actually a figment of Walter's imagination?
Don't expect to find any answers in this interview; Fringe's no-spoiler policy is safe in the hands of the seasoned Leonard Nimoy, who probably managed to preserve the moratorium on spoilers because, like the rest of the cast, he has no idea what is going to happen beyond the season two finale of Fringe. But he does give us some great insight into working with the Fringe team which leads me to believe that we can just sit back and enjoy the upcoming episodes, as the character of William Bell will be dealt with accordingly.
Leonard Nimoy's involvement with Fringe started as a favour to JJ Abrams. The former was so happy to see the Star Trek franchise in the hands of the latter, who treated the franchise in a way Nimoy thinks it deserves to be, and so happy that the character of Spock, which brought him so much, was being kept alive through the talented Zachary Quinto that he couldn't refuse JJ Abrams anything.
Mr. Nimoy reiterated the fact many times that the fact that he is retiring now has nothing to do with his involvement in Fringe, and that the timing is mere coincidence. Nimoy also addressed the rumour that the character of William Bell had to be scaled back because of his busy schedule. The fact is that Nimoy was asked to appear in five episodes of Fringe and that's what he did. That his screen time has been minimal up to now doesn't have anything to do with his busy schedule and everything to do with production decisions.
One implication of the announcement of his involvement with Fringe is that his last visit to a set as an actor was one that involved Fringe and the character of William Bell. One can imagine that, as described by Mr. Nimoy, this was quite a bittersweet moment for him. As he mentioned numerous times during the conference call, he had a great 60 years working in the movie industry, and although the time has come for him to retire, he did, at the end of filming that last scene of Fringe, not want it to end.
Perhaps then it's a good thing that Fringe is doing so well as to receive the accolades of Mr. Nimoy, who describes it as an amazing sci-fi production, one of intricate complexity and depth. Perhaps it's also a good thing that Leonard Nimoy enjoyed working with the cast of Fringe, particularly with John Noble. Nimoy's scenes with Noble are described by the latter as very strong scenes that bring an equally strong resolution to their relationship. The experience Nimoy had with Fringe led to a fulfilling conclusion that marks the end of an illustrious career.
As with the rest of the Fringe team, Leonard Nimoy was very careful when it came to giving away spoilers or inside information. He did tell us though that since he has retired from acting, he doesn't expect to be asked to come back to the set of Fringe. However, let it be clear that this is Leonard Nimoy's opinion on the matter and perhaps we are going to be lucky enough to see something from Nimoy in the upcoming season. In the meanwhile, Mr. Nimoy is going to be busy with his photography, which you can see at Nimoy's website.
I hope photography will be as satisfying to Mr. Nimoy as has been his acting career. He describes it as an incredible experience, one that started when he was 17 or 18 and that allowed him to work with so many talented people in the industry — something he is very grateful for. When asked about Star Trek, Nimoy admits that he feels incredibly blessed and thankful he was able to be a part of something as big as the Star Trek franchise. The positive influence that both the series itself and the character of Spock had on fans, a number of whom told Nimoy they were going into the sciences because of Star Trek, has been gratifying. Of course the science of both the story of Fringe and that behind its production is much complex than anything done on Star Trek TOS; Nimoy spoke briefly about the ever-increasing level of sophistication of science fiction, both in complexity of the storylines and its production value, with something akin to admiration.
Hopefully Fringe and the character of William Bell are going to have a positive effect on fans as well. It definitely is a possibility, since William Bell is such a mysterious character. The ambiguity of William Bell not only makes him human but, according to Nimoy, it also makes the charm of the character. He tells us that even he was intrigued by the reasons why Bell was doing what he did, and encouraged fans to ask questions regarding his agenda. William Bell tells others such as Olivia to trust him, but can he be trusted?
Nimoy tells us that the season two finale is particularly important for the character of William Bell. He didn't tell us why, nor did he tell us anything about alter-Bell other than that there is only one Bell that we are going to see next week. So in other words, we don't know where alter-Bell is. So, again, we only know what Nimoy himself knows, and not what the production team has in mind.
This was a great conference call with a great actor whose acting career has come to an end but whose creativity is definitely nowhere near ended. We look forward to seeing what comes next for Mr. Nimoy. And would it be terribly cliché to wish him to live long and prosper?