In a roundtable conversation with EW, the two Spocks -- Leonard Nimoy and newly cast Zachary Quinto -- join director J.J. Abrams to talk about their preparations and hopes for 2008's ''Star Trek'' reboot
Credit: Leonared Nimoy and Zachary Quinto: Albert L. Ortega/; Spock: Kobal Collection

Finally, they’re beaming up.

Ending months of speculation, J.J. Abrams announced the first major casting in the director’s hush-hush re-energizing of the Star Trek movie franchise by tapping Zachary Quinto to play Spock, the hyper-logical science stud with the pointy ears and Vulcan death grip. In case the name doesn’t register on your tricorder, the 29-year-old actor plays Sylar, the serial killer who eats superpowered brains on Heroes.

Quinto’s fellow Heroes are thrilled for him. In fact, Milo Ventimiglia reveals to EW that his friends helped champion Quinto for the role. ”A long time ago he and I had a conversation about roles we would love to play,” says Ventimiglia. ”His was like, ‘Man, I just want to play Spock.’ Now, my friends knew Star Trek was coming back, and they had gone online and started dropping hints like, ‘Milo — Spock ’08.’ It was a total joke. But when they heard Zach wanted to be Spock, they looked at him, totally saw Spock in him, and went back to the Web and started dropping ‘Zach Quinto — Spock ’08.’ I’m blown away that Zach got the part.”

Masi Oka seconds Milo’s motion. ”We can’t be any more happy for him. He’s so talented. He’s perfect for the part. He wanted it really badly and we were all rooting for him,” says Oka, adding that he offered Quinto some suggestions on mastering what might be his greatest challenge: nailing Spock’s Vulcan salute. ”When Zach and I would hang out, he’d have a rubber band over his fingers, practicing his muscle. We’ve come up with ways to practice — wiggle the fingers, doing yoga for the hand…. He’s been practicing for about a month. I’m betting on him. He’ll get it down.”

Maybe Quinto can get some pointers from his pointy-eared predecessor, seeing how they’ll soon be seeing a lot of each other. As it turns out, Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock, will also be in Abrams’ movie, which is set to begin filming in November and is due Christmas 2008. Creative details are still under wraps, but Abrams and producer Damon Lindelof (Lost) confirm that Nimoy will be playing the role of… Spock. While we can only guess what this means for the story — framing device? time travel? — here’s what we know for certain: Abrams is still searching for his Captain Kirk; Quinto will go MIA during a chunk of the upcoming season to film Star Trek (the logistics were hammered out between Lindelof and Heroes creator Tim Kring, who are old friends); and Nimoy has advised the new Spock to brace himself for scads of ear jokes. The three Trekkers sat down for an exclusive conversation with EW following the casting announcement last week at Comic-Con in San Diego.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: J.J., what were you looking for when you were casting Spock?
J.J. ABRAMS: The same thing you’re looking for when you want to get married. You just have to know. You can’t intellectualize this. It just has to feel right on every level. And I have to tell you, I want to marry Zachary Quinto.

Wow. How does your wife feel about this?
ABRAMS: Katie’s not going to be happy. Or very happy. I don’t know. But the truth is this: Zachary possesses a thoughtfulness, a gravity, and a complexity that made me and the other producers know he was the right guy. More importantly, we needed to know: Is he a good guy? We didn’t want to get into this with someone we really couldn’t imagine [spending] a lot of time with. I talked to my friend Greg Grunberg, who apparently is on a show called Heroes, and he said that Zachary is a spectacular guy. And when I met Mr. Nimoy, I felt a respect that had nothing to do with the appreciation I have for his work. I just admired him. I could see where the character came from. And I could tell he would have a kinship with Zachary. Seeing them together for the first time today, I got chills. It was always impossible imagining they could share the same physical space, and there they were together.

Leonard, when you first heard they were making a new Star Trek film — that they were ”rebooting” the franchise with a new cast — how did you feel? Skeptical? Angry? Relieved?
LEONARD NIMOY: None of those. I’ve been away from Star Trek for a number of years. The first thing I heard was that J.J. Abrams was doing this. I have a lot of respect for him, so I thought, ”This is something to consider.” Then the script came along — that was the second major step. And then J.J. sent me some footage of Zach. I looked at him, and I’ll tell you exactly what I said to J.J.: ”He looks exactly right.” What’s more, he has an interior life, which is vital to the character. With all of those elements in place, I’m very comfortable with this new Star Trek.

With this casting, Leonard, you’re officially ceding this role to a new actor. How do you feel about this?
NIMOY: Strange. It is strange…but very comforting. I feel like the character is being put in very, very good hands.

Zach, how did the trek into Star Trek begin for you?
ZACHARY QUNTO: It began last December for me, when I got an e-mail from a friend saying they were doing another Star Trek movie and that young Spock would be a character. It was right about the time my character started to emerge on Heroes. So I started to talk about it a lot — in interviews, with anyone. I sort of thought, ”If I could generate attention to it, it would materialize.” Then one day, we got the call for an audition. It’s been a definite fast train for me.

NEXT PAGE: ”To have the blessing and involvement of the man who created this iconic character — and to have him as a guide on this journey — is going to be important and valuable.”