Zachary Quinto goes In Search Of unexplained phenomena

Zachary Quinto
Zachary Quinto

NEW YORK • When the producers of In Search Of approached Zachary Quinto (above) about headlining a reboot, he felt it might be a little too on the nose - or, in this case, the ears.

Quinto had succeeded the late Leonard Nimoy as Spock in the Star Trek film franchise and now he was being asked to reprise Nimoy's role as host of the paranormal docu-series, which originally ran from 1977 to 1982 and probed folk mysteries like Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle and the Loch Ness Monster.

"From their perspective, I was the logical choice," said Quinto, 41, making a perhaps unintentional Vulcan reference.

In a recent telephone interview, he discussed his decision to do In Search Of and his relationship with Nimoy.

These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

What persuaded you to sign on for In Search Of?

I had some prerequisites. I wanted to be a producer so I had a hand in the new creative direction.

Leonard was a host in a very traditional sense. He was in the studio, often in a blazer and turtleneck, introducing pre-filmed segments.

I wanted to go on the journeys myself. Once I knew the producers were open to my input, I felt comfortable.

Was Anthony Bourdain one of your inspirations?

I'm a huge fan of Bourdain's work and was as saddened by his passing as anyone.

We used his shows as a template and a guidepost.

What else sets the new version apart?

It's about the convergence of science and human experience.

We connect with experts on these topics and then juxtapose their opinions with the perspectives of people who have had very human but, in some cases, unproven experiences.

That balance is key. This show has never been about finding the answers. It's about looking for the answers.

What's the strangest situation you found yourself in while working on this show?

I went to a body donation centre in Phoenix, Arizona, for the episode In Search Of Life After Death.

This place collects the bodies of people who have donated their remains to science, then vivisects them and sends them around the world for research.

That was incredibly profound and unsettling, standing in a refrigerator surrounded by 30 bodies.

What was the oddest story you heard?

A gentleman I interviewed in the episode about time travel talked about being a part of government experiments.

He said from a very young age, he was used as a time traveller. Hearing that story challenged my understanding of what's possible in the world.

You got to be close friends with Nimoy after you were cast as Spock. Did you ever talk to him about In Search Of?

We never talked about it in detail.

He knew I watched it as a kid. I'm sure I would have had his support and blessing.

What did your relationship with him ultimately mean to you?

I was really grateful for his support and availability to me as I stepped into that role, but I never could've imagined what a strong connection we would forge.

My father died when I was very young. Leonard was pretty much the same age as my father and there were a lot of physical similarities between us. He felt like, if not a father, at least an uncle.

Are there any other aspects of his legacy you'd like to continue? Could you see yourself writing poetry or directing a Three Men And A Baby (1987) reboot?

I love the diversity of Leonard's journey. I would love to direct.

If I could amass as impressive an art collection as he built or be as generous a philanthropist as he was, that would be fine by me.

He had a lot of richness in his life, so I certainly aspire to his level of creativity and engagement with the world around him, even into his final years.

Were you worried that hosting In Search Of might make people think you're a little - let's say, eccentric?

No, because I'm interested in the scientific aspect of it.

If I were saying, "This is what happened", maybe I'd be more concerned about that.

I'm just interviewing people who are asserting their own experiences without assigning any kind of value judgment. I present both sides of the subject to audiences and let them decide what they believe.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2018, with the headline 'Zachary Quinto goes In Search Of unexplained phenomena'. Print Edition | Subscribe