The three-time Oscar nominated actor Martin Landau was offered the role of Spock in sci-fi series Star Trek. Landau, who died in 2017 was a prolific and popular actor. He was perhaps best known for his time on the Mission: Impossible TV series, and for his role in Alfred Hitchcok’s spy thriller movie North by Northwest.
The actor’s career almost took on a very different trajectory though, and Landau was nearly cast as the iconic Star Trek character Spock: the Vulcan science officer aboard the USS Enterprise, and second in command to Star Trek captain Kirk. However, when it was offered to him Landau turned the role down.
Of course, Spock was eventually played by the one and only Leonard Nimoy, who turned Spock into one of the greatest and most recognisable characters of all time. Nimoy played Spock in three seasons of the original Star Trek series, in addition to the Star Trek movies and a cameo appearance in The Next Generation.
So, why did Landau turn down a role that would go on to be so iconic? The actor spoke to Starlog magazine (via Screen Rant) back in 1986 about whether he regretted his decision, and he explained his reasoning. The actor said “You have to think of the turmoil of the ’60s. A superintelligent creature with pointy ears who thought logically was exactly right – except I didn’t want to act it. I did not want to be saddled with the role of a character without feeling.”
That’s pretty straightforward, then, and pretty understandable too. For most actors, the joy they get from their job is in being able to show a wide range of emotions, and with Spock, your job as an actor is to show none. It’s worth noting that both Landau and Nimoy have a similar look and demeanour, so even though Landau turned the huge role down it’s not hard at all to image him as the Vulcan.
For more Star Trek-related fun, why not look to the future and find out everything you need to know about Star Trek 4.