If you read our report from the set of Star Trek Beyond, you may have wondered why there weren’t quotes from Zachary Quinto. That’s because while Quinto was filming as Spock, he wasn’t talking to the media... in honor of Leonard Nimoy, who never did interviews while in character. And that’s just the start of how Nimoy’s passing is impacting Star Trek Beyond.

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“That was a really difficult time for me personally but there was also a tremendous amount of love in the experience of losing Leonard,” Quinto told io9 via telephone a week after our set visit. “I was very close with him and am very close with his family and in his loss we really found comfort in one another.”

Much of that comfort also came from finally getting back to a Star Trek set, a place Nimoy felt very much at home, and among friends who share the loss.

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“I would say my connection to the character is deeper now because of our relationship,” Quinto continued “I feel a real responsibility to honor him and to do the character a real kind of justice. So I think my connection to that is a lot stronger now even though he’s not with us anymore.”

In Star Trek Beyond, Spock is dealing not just with the imminent threat of Idris Elba’s character, Krall, he’s dealing with an injury and feeling like his true purpose isn’t on the Enterprise, but instead helping the remnants of the Vulcan race. Quinto calls “the rebuilding of his civilization” Spock’s “singular pursuit.”

Both Spocks. Image: Trek Wallpaper

And while that’s the new Spock’s role in the movie, Nimoy will have some kind of presence as well. Talking in August 2015, Quinto teased as much by saying, “I think this movie is being made with him in all of our hearts and he’ll be honored as a result of that.” Several months later, at the Star Trek Beyond fan event, he offered up a more specific statement:

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In a way I feel like he’s more a part of this film than he was the other two. We were all so cognizant of his absence but I think in the face of that, we all held him in our hearts more fully. Everyone on this film showed up to work in the spirit of celebrating his life and his indelible contribution to this franchise... He’s there in a really powerful way.

The question is, is that literal? Does Spock Prime play a role in Beyond? Is it simply the film being dedicated to him, or just a general feeling on set? There are numerous possibilities and we’ll find out on July 22. However, there’s no doubt that Nimoy was someone everyone was thinking about while filming.

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“This movie is being made with him in all of our hearts and he’ll be honored as a result of that,” Quinto said. “We miss him all the time... His spirit is really with all of us, and will continue to be for sure.”