Remembering Leonard Nimoy's Spock and His Famous Eyebrows

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By Catherine Q. O’Neill

(Photo: Getty Images)

In the long history of megafamous eyebrows (Audrey Hepburn, Brooke Shields, Cara Delevingne), none are quite as iconic as Spock’s. And what many people don’t know is that Leonard Nimoy, the actor who originated the role on Star Trek and passed away last week, actually went through a lot to get them that way.

Nimoy told the TV Times in 1982, “The makeup is a tough problem for me. It always has been. It’s tedious. lt’s painful, and it’s confining. The entire makeup takes two hours. It’s extremely complicated makeup, and it’s not just the ears. The eyebrows can take longer because they must be laid on hair by hair and cut fresh every morning. They are not one piece. lf they were, you would not get mobility. They would sit there and look unnatural.”

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And if you think Zachary Quinto, who played the character in the most recent film versions, had it easier thanks to CGI, you’re wrong. Makeup-department head David Anderson told Entertainment Weekly, “I’d apply about 60 to 80 hairs, one by one, to each eyebrow.” The process took about two and a half hours, but part of that was Quinto’s fault: “I kept wondering why it started taking longer and longer, and then I found out that Zach had been going home each night and trimming his brows on his own. For each fraction of a millimeter that he shaved off, I’d have to apply dozens more hairs!” said Anderson.

So thank you, Leonard Nimoy. Not only for your contribution to movie-makeup history, but for your immeasurable talent and ability. You will be missed.

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