When the original Star Trek was given a movie franchise reboot, it featured a crew of fresh faces as familiar characters. Except when Leonard Nimoy surprised audiences and pleased longtime fans with an appearance as Spock Prime in 2009. When Nimoy returned to his role almost 20 years later in the directed J.J. Abrams' iteration, it seems the filmmaker had a "pinch me" moment whilst directing Spock himself.
Star Trek's Karl Urban recently shared a funny exchange between the two when they were filming Nimoy's first take on the 2009 film in his words:
Not very many directors get get to be a part of the return of such an iconic role such as Spock, who committed many years to his character. Per Karl Urban's story, it looks like J.J. Abrams was in his zone on the set of Star Trek, when he realized just who he was giving direction to. Leonard Nimoy played the Vulcan science officer for three seasons on Star Trek, before returning for six studio films as the character as well. He had more chances to add depth and explore his character over 25 years than one could ever imagine.
Karl Urban's anecdote about the late Leonard Nimoy's first day back as Spock after an almost 20-year gap without the character is one fans will certainly treasure. Urban, who has played Doctor McCoy in three Star Trek films talked about some of the amazing memories as part of the franchise at a Dallas Fan Days panel (via ComicBook.com). He remembers prior to the moment watching behind the scenes with J.J. Abrams as Nimoy took on the role again in amazement of his performance.
Leonard Nimoy played Spock one last time in Star Trek: Into Darkness before passing away in 2016 at 83 years old. He was remembered in 2016's Star Trek: Beyond with a scene tributing him and the original space crew.
Star Trek would not be the last time J.J. Abrams directed actors returning to their most iconic roles years later. The filmmaker has also worked closely with the likes of Star Wars actors Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford to continue the Skywalker saga with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and has returned to direct Episode IX coming to theaters on December 20, 2019.