Zachary Quinto on Science Fiction, Star Trek, and Playing Spock

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How important is science fiction? On this episode of, we’re diving into the world of Star Trek and science fiction. Neil deGrasse Tyson beams up to the USS Enterprise to chat with Spock himself, Zachary Quinto. Back on base, Neil is joined by comic co-host Chuck Nice and astrophysicist and StarTalk geek-in-chief Charles Liu, PhD.

You’ll learn about Zachary’s classical theatre background. We explore the Shakespearean themes found in Star Trek and why science fiction in general is a perfect canvas for the themes and drama of Shakespeare. Find out more about Zachary’s role in Heroes and In Search of… You’ll also find out why shows work best when they “stick to their own rules.” We discuss why Heroes ultimately lost its audience due to “retroactive continuity.” We explore retconning even further as Neil brings up the Kessel Run from Star Wars.

Then it’s time for Star Trek. Zachary tells us how he felt about taking on one of the most iconic roles in all of science fiction. You’ll hear about his close relationship with Leonard Nimoy. We investigate Spock’s constant battle between his Vulcanism and his humanity. This leads to a bigger question: how do you separate emotions from logic? Or, do they work in tandem? Discover more about the relationship between Spock and Captain Kirk and why they serve as perfect foils to each other.

Lastly, you’ll learn about science fiction storytelling. We debate which element of storytelling science fiction should focus more on: telling morality tales or indulging in escapism. Charles explains why, when debating things like this, you must consider the medium in which the story is being told. All that, plus, Neil tells us why science fiction’s job is to illuminate the human condition.

Thanks to our Patrons Pat Mallon, Kyle Rhodes, M. Tristan Moody, Wil Jay (wil_n3rd), Mateo Monsalve, Adam Honaker, Foluso Ogundepo, Christian Lundgaard Torstensen, Brandon Kellerhals, and Steven Pugh for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons and All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

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Science meets pop culture on StarTalk! Astrophysicist & Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson, his comic co-hosts, guest celebrities & scientists discuss astronomy, physics, and everything else about life in the universe. Keep Looking Up!

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