What Happened to Nimoy's Voice?

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by Corylea, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. Corylea

    Corylea Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    In TOS, Leonard Nimoy had a wonderful voice. In TMP, his voice seemed much deeper but less interesting and less lovely. Does anyone know what happened?

    I know that he smoked during the TOS era and didn't give it up until he started directing. And I know he drank heavily for awhile. Is the change in his voice just the effects of smoking and drinking, or did he suffer some sort of injury to his voice? Does anyone know?

    I've read both of his autobiographies and didn't see any mention of vocal training or vocal injury, but I haven't seen all that many interviews with him, since I lived in a TV-free household for a couple of decades.
     
  2. JT Perfecthair

    JT Perfecthair Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    In TOS Nimoy often sounds like his nose is plugged up, you can immediately tell if its a "Spock has a cold" episode.
     
  3. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    A friend suggested Nimoy's diction issues, apparent in TMP (and especially in the TUC briefing) might be due to dentures.
     
  4. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

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    A lot of the change is due to the character arc Spock went through in TMP. When he first arrives on the Enterprise his voice is cold and flat. Later, after his flight through V'Ger, his voice warms up, and he begins to sound like the Spock of old.
     
  5. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Some people's voices just change as they get older (for the better or the worse). Most people don't notice it unless they have then & now recordings to compare.
     
  6. Lance

    Lance Commodore Commodore

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    ^ Absolutely. People's voices change. I don't sound exactly the same as I did even ten years ago.

    As for the big Nimoy, as Trevanian also alluded to above, I always wondered if he was maybe speaking around a set of dentures and it subtly affected how he sounded on film? Alternatively, I do know that he's spoken about how in TOS he always tried to act it as if English was a second language for Spock, and therefore he said the lines in a somewhat more "formal" manner than some of Spock's ship-mates (notably he actually hits British pronunciation on several words), something which Nimoy essentially stopped doing during the movie era.
     
  7. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Commodore Commodore

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    There was an aging factor because his voice was deeper and more gravelly in general by the time of TMP, but it's also true there was a character-driven harshness to it in TMP when he first arrived on the Enterprise versus after the encounter with V'ger. Contrast "Twelfth power energy field" with "Yes, Captain, we witnessed a birth."
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actually, if you listen closely, Spock's voice in TMP is mostly "cold and flat" in the bridge scenes, and more expressive in scenes on other sets such as the officer's lounge. Keep in mind that all the bridge dialogue was looped (dubbed over) in post-production due to the noise of the film projectors behind the bridge consoles. Evidently Nimoy just gave a stiffer performance on the dubbing stage than he did on the set.

    It's true that he was more expressive in later bridge scenes, but he also was in the earlier lounge scene. And there is a noticeable difference in the timbre of his voice in all the bridge scenes versus scenes elsewhere.
     
  9. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    Well, Nimoy's looping was according to editor Todd Ramsay, something that he & Wise were very impressed by (this was either in MAKING OF ST TMP and/or Sackett's STARLOG column.)

    So that would suggest the mostly-cold timber is what they wanted.

    I always thought the 'hey that's the REAL TOS Spock' sound of his voice after the second plasma energy bolt vanishes without killing them all was a bit out of character, because that is how he should start sounding much later, after the meld.

    Then again, it could be hinting that the old Spock is just beneath the surface all along and he slips up a little when he replies to Kirk about it being a "logical assumption." (it got a big laugh opening day, presumably because everybody else thought it was the old Spock coming through there.)

    The more I think about it, the more the latter notion has some weight to it, because I remember even in the novelization Spock catches himself enjoying exchanges with the humans ... then again, I'm probably overanalyzing the hell out of this!
     
  10. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Lots of dialogue in movies is looped, and experienced actors are used to it, so I don't know if I'd lay the blame for Nimoy's timbre on that. I think Trevanian is probably right about the tone being scene based. On the bridge Spock is out in public, so to speak.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But calling it "blame" is assuming it was a mistake, rather than a choice to take his voice in a different direction when they looped those scenes. It's unclear why the difference is there, but there's a clear difference between the sound of Nimoy's voice in the bridge scenes and its sound elsewhere in the film.
     
  12. Sketcher

    Sketcher Commander Red Shirt

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    Smoking?
     
  13. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    The "talking around dentures" is very obvious in the 2009 movie.
     
  14. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

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    Yep. They even kept it in the Italian dubbing, which is pretty weird to think of it. Did they gave the voice actor a denture to imitate it? :lol:
     
  15. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Christopher is absolutely correct about Nimoy's stilted delivery on looped dialogue. Even Sir Patrick Stewart, who was in DUNE, EXCALIBUR and other Classic Motion Pictures before TNG - whose acting chops are most impressive - gave some very awkward readings, whenever he had to overdub himself. In the first couple of seasons of TNG, in fact, this is quite pronounced. So, it's not like Nimoy is above a bad reading - just listen to his voice work on TAS. It's atrocious! And by the time TMP came around, nobody had to work that hard anymore to "sell" the show, as they had with the series.

    STAR TREK was established and making a fuss over how Spock enunciated to convince people that he was from another planet just wasn't necessary anymore. So yes, Movie Spock is played differently. And starting with VOYAGE HOME, Nimoy was evidently quite bored with the character, altogether. I have to agree completely with what others have said, too, regarding Lenny's dentition - it screwed up his mode of speech and the shape of his face, somewhat. In any case, Nimoy's ADR work has historically been mediocre to very bad.
     
  16. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Voicing for a cartoon isn't ADR. That's just voice acting, and if you stick any actor alone with a tape recorder chances are you're not going to get good results since there's no director and no other actors to play off.

    In ADR you are listening to playback of the scene you performed on the set and trying to match it, so sure, it's possible Nimoy couldn't recreate his on-set performance, or maybe the director in ADR session asked for something different or picked bad takes.

    The most noticeable Trek ADR to me is in TWOK when Khan says, "You mean he never told you the tale? To amuse your Captain, no?" where the sound quality is utterly different on the italicized text. It sound like Khan is suddenly speaking over a telephone line.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  17. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    The funny thing is I always liked the "Spock has a cold" voice.
     
  18. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    It's funny, this Nimoy/cold business, because during TNG season 2, Stewart kept sounding like that to me, to the point where I was wondering if he had a coke problem or something (nobody's probably ever drawn this comparison before, but he reminded me of Heather Thomas' voice during the TJ HOOKER she did, which is when she was doing a ton of blow, apparently.)
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Funnily enough, re the reference to Nimoy's looping ability, I ran across this today while posting a new topic:
    LINK TO ISSUE
     
  20. Green Shirt

    Green Shirt Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In Star Trek fandom, there is no such thing as "over" anything. :klingon: