Leonard Nimoy with Joel Marshall and Kamala Lopez

We were lucky enough to sit down with Leonard Nimoy in his home in early 2007.  He admitted that he didn’t really know what we were doing, but then just jumped in and gave us such an open, thoughtful, wise interview.  Here it is again:

Actor / Director / Writer / Photographer Leonard Nimoy sits down with Joel and Kamala to discuss being an artist in the entertainment industry, choosing projects, artistic expression, the importance of having a sense of humor.

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Stewart SternI met Stewart Stern in the back of a coffee shop in Seattle, while attending the Seattle Film Festival in 2006. I had gone back to visit my home city of Seattle from Los Angeles to do interviews for my podcast FatFreeFilm. I was a little down because I’m not always the most outgoing person and was having a hard time getting interviews. I’m sitting in this coffee shop and everyone around me is talking with one another. I was feeling a bit invisible and kind of like I was blowing it. I remembered something that someone told me once. I had said I didn’t like going to Hollywood parties because I felt like a big idiot going around talking with people and trying to “network.” I didn’t like the idea that someone might think I was talking with them just to get something. This person advised me that when I go to a party or event, I should just talk to one person, and perhaps I’ll get to know this one person in a meaningful way, instead of just walking around picking up cards and ending up with a pocket full cards with no meaning whatsoever.

In this coffee shop on this beautiful Seattle day, I turned to this man sitting next to me. He was an older man in a baseball cap. We began talking. The conversation may have been about cats, I don’t know. This man was so open and friendly. I didn’t think he was there for the film festival at all, just maybe some old guy who hangs out in this coffee shop, playing checkers or something. I lost track of time because I was having such a good time conversing with him. I looked at my watch and said I had to go to a movie. He said he did too and he’d walk with me. As we were walking along people started flocking to this man, including the directors of the movie we were about to see. I Googled his name, Stewart Stern, secretly on my Treo and one of the results said something about “Rebel Without a Cause.” The movie we were attending that day was called Quinceanera. At the end of this delightful movie, I turned to Stewart and I asked him if perhaps he would like to do an interview for my podcast. He looked concerned and said he didn’t know what that was (most people didn’t) but if I called him tomorrow, he’d let me know.

The next day I called him and he said I could come over to his house and we could do the interview. I drove to his beautiful house and we sat down on two wooden chairs. I must admit, I was not very prepared. I turned on my recorder not really knowing what I was even going to ask and nervously did an intro to the show, with a lot of “ums” and “uhs,” then he began talking, and this description of an incredible life spooled out of this man. It became clear his man, Stewart Stern, was extraordinary. I must say these two hours renewed all the reasons I ever set out to work in the the entertainment field at all. All the things that had gotten me lost, or disillusioned, frightened, disappointed, confused, suddenly went away. The remarkable presence of this man and his willingness to be so personal was startling. I place the interview here for you to listen as well. It’s in two parts here unedited. Much of Stewart Stern’s extraordinary life in his own words:

A few years later Stewart invited me up to attend The Film School’s screenwriting intensive in Seattle. This was another remarkable pivotal experience. His personal connection classes were the highlight of the immersive program. He would bring in pictures and artifacts from his life and show clips of films he had written and talk about them. It wasn’t at all like he was trying to impress us with his achievements and who he knew. He was sharing his life at a much higher level so we could experience it too and then he showed how he put pieces of it on the screen to make whatever story he was telling as true as possible. It was like his writing process was taking the story he was writing, sometimes an adaptation of a book, and linking it up to his emotional experience so it was real to him and he could write it. This was not a task he took lightly at all. The others that taught classes during those three weeks of eight-hour days also had that kind of willingness to put themselves on the line that made everyone in the class, which was a broad spectrum of people with a varying degrees of experience, just lay it out there too. Stewart had the ability to allow people to let their defenses down and expose their vulnerabilities, probably because he did it so freely.

I didn’t see Stewart much after that, because I went back to my home in Los Angeles, and I admit that I can be a bit phobic about calling people on the phone. However, a couple of months ago, when I was talking about Stewart to my wife Kamala, she said, “Why don’t you give him a call?” I resisted, because I just don’t like awkward moments on the phone, especially when I haven’t talked to someone in a while, but she kind of forced me to do it. I was and am, of course, extremely glad I did. Every time I talked with Stewart I felt like we had been friends all our lives. I’m sure a lot of people had the same experience with him. Of all his accomplishments in life, I think the most impressive thing about him was his humanity, or maybe I mean human-ness. He had achieved a level of being that is what I consider the highest form of consciousness, something a Zen Buddhist might aspire to. The enthusiasm and interest of a nine-year-old child and the wisdom and life experience of a 92-year-old man.

-Joel Marshall

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FatFreeFilm

On September 9, 2011 By

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