I see David has already addressed this here, and it seems to me somehow inappropriate to put an addendum on his tribute. So instead I’ll write something here.
I said over at Billys that sometimes it’s the combination of the actor and the role. It’s that combination and how the actor handles things that makes the character special.
Nimoy, in my view was not a spectacular actor, at least in terms of being able to handle any role they were thrust into. I can’t think of any other role that he played over the years that came to be as well known or dearly loved as his portrayal of Spock.
In truth, Spock was as much part of Leonard Nimoy as Leonard Nimoy was of Spock. By that I mean to say that Leonard Nimoy brought the character of Spock and indeed of the entire mythical race of Volcans himself. He helped define both his character and other characters who would come along behind him in the many iterations of Star Trek that would follow. When he took on the task, the role was far from clearly defined. In short, he ended up writing that definition. Story editors and script writers forever have the character has he portrayed it in mind. Zachary Quinto, for example, has his work cut out for him playing into that klegacy.
I cannot imagine that the series would have been nearly as popular as it turned out to be both the original and those that came after, absent what he brought to that role.
I for one, would be most interested in hearing what Brent Spiner had to say on these points, since he found himself in a similar situation ..having to define the role on the fly.
Thrusters on full.