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Leonard Nimoy Agreed To Return For Star Trek III Under One Condition

Leonard Nimoy had a love/hate with his role as Spock in the "Star Trek" franchise. When his autobiography "I Am Not Spock" was published in 1975, he was trying to make clear that Spock wasn't his sole identity. "The last year of 'Star Trek' [the series], the writing deteriorated badly," Nimoy said in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. "I was so glad when it was over. I really was unhappy in that final season, but sad, sad because I knew what it could be if it was well-written and well-produced, and it wasn't." When the plan for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" was being developed, all of Nimoy's old feelings of worry and disappointment came back, thanks in part to what was viewed as a lackluster script.

"I was not enamored with the first movie. I thought it was really not 'Star Trek,' it was something else. They were trying to do something else with 'Star Trek,'" he told John Blackstone in a 2005 interview. "And we did it and I thought, Well, that's done, we did the 'Star Trek' movie. And of course it didn't quite work out that way, we were just beginning."

To everyone's surprise, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" ended up making over $80 million, which guaranteed another film (via Box Office Mojo). When the producers suggested a Spock death scene for the next film, Nimoy was delighted, assuming it would be the last film. But when "The Wrath of Khan" breathed new life into the franchise, Nimoy used its popularity to his advantage before agreeing to resurrect Spock for the next movie.

Leonard Nimoy would only return to the third film if he could also direct it

"They called me in for a meeting and said 'we'd like to know if you'd like to be involved in another "Star Trek" movie,' and I said 'yes, I'd like to direct it.' And that's how that started," Leonard Nimoy told the Television Academy Foundation. In his second autobiography "I Am Spock," Nimoy admitted that he made the bargain that he'd only return for the third film if he could direct it, because he wanted a challenge. He and William Shatner had both asked — and been turned down — to direct episodes of the "Star Trek" series, so he felt certain this was the leverage he needed.

"Star Trek III: The Search For Spock" is much more of a group effort than the first two films, which was exactly what Nimoy was going for. "I think I was influenced by my experience on 'Mission: Impossible,' where each character had a specific job to complete in any given adventure," Nimoy wrote in "I Am Spock," via StarTrek.com. "We worked, very consciously, to define special moments for each of the Enterprise bridge crew." And it worked, lending a camaraderie and unity among all the characters that was largely absent from the first two films.

"The Search for Spock" was well-received, and Nimoy went on to direct "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." Nimoy directing also had another effect — paving the way for William Shatner to direct the next film, "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," and countless other actors on the many series that were to come.