Leonard Nimoy will always be the definitive Mr. Spock, encompassing decades of sometimes-tumultuous history with the character and an indelible imprint on pop culture as a result. Spock remains one of Star Trek's most enduring fixtures, and with Nimoy passing in 2015, other actors have continued the tradition. Ethan Peck took on the part in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, with Zachary Quinto playing Spock in the Kelvinverse trilogy of movies. As with the likes of James Bond and Count Dracula, the character now belongs to multiple actors. And while Nimoy will always be first among equals, the other two have both stepped up to reveal sides of Spock that no one else could.
Peck, in particular, stands out with his performance as a younger, less certain Spock on Strange New Worlds. Unlike Quinto, he's done so without Nimoy's presence to back him up: representing the first truly post-Nimoy embodiment of the character. In the process, he's become a worthy successor to Star Trek's most important role on his own terms.
Ethan Peck Gives Spock a Past on Strange New Worlds
Spock is the only character to make the leap from the original Star Trek pilot "The Cage" to what became The Original Series. In the process, the character aged over a decade in-world, as Christopher Pike's tenure as captain of the Enterprise gives way to James T. Kirk's. Nimoy hadn't yet cemented the character during "The Cage," nor during the second pilot, which became Season 1, Episode 3, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." The show provided an easy explanation when it rebroadcast "The Cage" as the two-parter Season 1, Episodes 11 and 12, "The Menagerie," which notes that 13 years have passed since the events of the first pilot. Nimoy's looser performance in the show's beginnings suddenly became a younger, less certain version of the character he became under Kirk.
Peck's performance as Spock picks up on those differences and fleshes them out. He first appeared during Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery actively troubled and at odds with his adoptive sister Michael. He finds peace in Michael's sacrifice, which sends the Discovery to the 31st century in order to save the galaxy from the rogue AI Control. Strange New Worlds picks up shortly after that: about seven years before the beginning of The Original Series. That gives Peck a direction to take the character while still charting his own course on how Spock gets there.
Ethan Peck Shows Sides of Nimoy While Still Making Spock His Own
In the process, he finds a number of Nimoy's mannerisms in his own take on Spock, including the signature raised eyebrow and a certain bafflement at emotional human behavior. Strange New Worlds gives him unresolved relationships as well -- setting the stage for later events in The Original Series -- including a betrothed in T'Pring, whose union he is uncertain of, and growing feelings for Christine Chapel, which he's barely even acknowledged. Peck develops these untouched portions of Spock's history with the confidence that the character himself sometimes lacks.
That extends to his interactions with the rest of the crew. They treat him as something of a lovable dork, which includes good-natured teasing and a lot of affection that often goes over his head. Nimoy's Spock carried shades of that as well, though he typically played the character above all of that. Peck brings a little more befuddlement while never being less than cool and logical. It reveals a Spock slowly learning to trust those around him and becoming a part of a new extended family as a result.
Spock is half-human, something that Nimoy's incarnation vehemently denied until later in his life. Peck uses it to distinguish his performance from his predecessor's, showing a Spock whose human side is still very much a part of him. That gives his Spock a connection to Nimoy's version while exploring a part of the character his predecessor didn't touch. As the franchise moves into the future, legacy figures like Spock and Kirk will continue to find new embodiments in different actors. Peck demonstrates exactly how to approach the challenge and stakes his own claim on everyone's favorite Vulcan in the process.
New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds stream every Thursday on Paramount+.