Star Trek: 57 Things You Didn’t Know About the Original Crew Films

From famous faces to nerdy trivia, there's a lot to devour in the first six Star Trek films...

The 12 Star Trekmovies to date are a treasure trove of references, famous actors (who weren’t necessarily famous at the time), and moments that nearly didn’t happen, and some that nearly did. Join us then, as we pick out 57 spots – and there are many more! – from Star Trek I through to VI

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

1. Star Trek: The Motion Picture grew out of a project that morphed from being a TV film to a full cinema release and to a TV series again. This went on, back and forth, over several years.

The TV series projects were referred to as Star Trek II and Star Trek: Phase II, with Star Trek: Planet Of The Titans being an early film treatment (reports and recollections suggests that version of the project was touted both as a TV Movie and a full cinematic release).

A lot of work went into Phase II in particular, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a rework of the pilot written to kick off the series, “In Thy Image.”

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Two further Phase II scripts were used in Star Trek: The Next Generation with major alterations – “The Child” and “Devil’s Due.” “The Child” in its original form was adapted for the Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II fan series along with another original Phase II script, “Kitumba.”

2. The Klingon Captain who we first see on screen is played by Mark Lenard. He also played Spock’s father – Sarek – in the original series, along with the third, fourth and sixth films. He also reprised the role twice in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Bizarrely, his first role on Star Trek was actually as the first Romulan seen by ‘Earthers’, as he was playing the Captain of the Romulan Bird Of Prey seen in “Balance Of Terror.”

3. Majel Barrett-Roddenberry appeared in the film as Christine Chapel once again, though she’s now a doctor, rather than a nurse as she was in the original series. Doctor Chapel would also appear at Starfleet Command in the fourth film, trying to get more power for Starfleet Medical during the power outage.

4. Janice Rand, Kirk’s personal Yeoman from the first season of the original series, reappeared as the transporter chief who was unfortunate enough to be at the controls when the transporter malfunctioned – horrifically killing Commander Sonak and a further officer.

5. David Gautreaux appears as Commander Branch, in command of the listening post space station Epsilon IX. Mr Gautreaux was originally cast to play Science Officer Lieutenant Xon on Star Trek: Phase II, and even had test footage taken as the character complete with his Vulcan ears on. 

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6. Persis Khambata had also been cast for Star Trek: Phase II as the Navigator – Lieutenant Ilia – and also had test footage and photos taken of her, in an original series skant-type uniform, and wearing a bald cap. In those shots, Ilia was wearing the head band that Dr Chapel ends up placing on the head of probe-Ilia in the film.

7. Captain Willard Decker was a character held over from Phase II as well, though in the TV version of the story (which would have been the pilot for the series), he was actually just a Commander and the new First Officer of the Enterprise.

Captain Kirk was to be Will’s father figure because…

8. …Willard Decker was also the son of Commodore Matt Decker from the original series episode “The Doomsday Machine,” who sacrificed himself to the titular monster. After his own ship (The USS Constellation) was all but destroyed, he temporarily commandeered the Enterprise while Kirk was trapped aboard the Constellation.

9. When the crew is assembled on the recreation deck so that Admiral/Captain Kirk can show them what they are facing, the extras making up the huge ship’s crew compliment includes various script writers, novelists, and fans of Star Trek who were known to the studio, cast and crew.

Key names include Susan Sackett (Gene Roddenberry’s assistant), Bjo Trimble (who led the writing campaigns to save Star Trek and wrote The Star Trek Concordance), Richard Arnold (who became Gene’s assistant and the liaison between the production team and product licencees during the formative years of The Next Generation), plus James Doohan’s twin sons, Chris and Montgomery.

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10. Also on the recreation deck, later in the film, you see images of a previous craft named Enterprise. This includes the Space Shuttle OV-101 which was named Enterprise due to a write-in campaign to NASA by Star Trek fans, prior to the commencement of shooting the film.

Also shown is the XCV-330 USS Enterprise ‘ring-ship’ (which was an early concept of the original series Enterprise), the World War II aircraft carrier USS Enterprise CV-6, and the 18th century Enterprise naval vessel, which is now referred to as the USS Enterprise retrospectively by the US Navy.

11. In the unproduced television version of the story, both Lt Ilia and Commander Decker returned to the Enterprise unscathed after being scanned, and the scans are encoded to help V’Ger evolve. In the final film the essence of both Decker and Ilia appear to become part of the evolved V’Ger and are thus listed as “missing.”

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)

12. The script that was used for Star Trek II was originally entitled Star Trek II: The Undiscovered Country and director Nicholas Meyer, who actually wrote the screenplay (uncredited) was furious when a Paramount executive changed the name to Star Trek II: The Vengeance Of Khan. This was a concern due to the up and coming Star Wars: Revenge Of The Jedi (as it was originally known, of course).

Meyer was even more displeased by the change to Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (meanwhile Revenge Of The Jedi became Return Of The Jedi). To make matters worse the original version of the film’s title card actually just said Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan when it went out to cinemas. Later prints and every home release have it corrected to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Previous working titles of various scripts from which elements converged into Meyer’s screenplay include War Of The GenerationsThe Omega System, and The Genesis Project.

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The Wrath Of Khan was such a late change that some merchandise had already been created under the Vengeance title.

13. Khan Noonian Singh is, of course, the same character as the Khan from the original series second season episode, “Space Seed.” His wife was Lt McGivers, who became enamoured with him in the original episode.

The late Ricardo Montalban reprised his role from the original episode, and as a genetically enhanced human or “augment” it was these performances that led to more episodes on the same theme.

14. The character of Lt Marla McGivers was supposed to originally be in Star Trek II, but the actress, Madyln Rhue, had been confined to a wheelchair.

Rather than recasting, which executive producer Harve Bennett thought unfair, the character was written out. That said, the filmed line confirming her as Khan’s dead wife was cut.

15. Though cut from the original cinema release, Midshipman 1st class Peter Preston’s extra scenes explaining the character were restored in a 1985 ABC TV version of the film and later integrated back into the story for the 2002 Director’s Edition DVD release. It turned out that Peter Preston is Scotty’s Nephew (his sister’s youngest), hence his clear on-screen attachment to the character. 

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The scenes missing from the theatrical version, and most versions (including the Blu-ray, unfortunately), show Peter questioning Kirk during the inspection with the youngster exclaiming that the ship’s engine room is the best in the fleet. There’s also an extended version of the death scene where Scotty explains the relationship and further shows off James Doohan’s actual acting abilities.

The novelization fleshes this out more, revealing that Peter is only 14 and very advanced for his age, while his 26 year old sister is already a Commander in Starfleet.

16. The original script had a scene where it was revealed that Rear Admiral Kirk had given Commander Sulu a promotion to Captain of the Excelsior effective April 2285 – after the “training cruise.” However, Admiral Morrow had countermanded it later, due to the Khan/Genesis incident and its interstellar controversy. Instead, the Excelsior was given to Captain Styles (as seen in the sequel).

17. In a small segment of the scene with Kirk and Spock, that happens between the end of the Kobayashi Maru simulation and Kirk going “home,” the pair walk along a corridor between the door they meet and the door they part at. Here, Kirk remarks that Saavik seems quite emotional. Spock replies it’s because she is half Romulan and thus hasn’t quite the control that he has.  

18. The original 1983 VHS release of the film in the USA was priced $39.95 (around half the price films on VHS were generally being sold at, at the time). Paramount needed to sell 60,000 copies to make such a heavy discount viable – and it exceeded 120,000 sales. This kickstarted more competitive home video pricing in the North American markets. 

Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984)

19. The Planet Of The Titans Enterprise test model by Ralph McQuarrie is in the Spacedock docked to the central core. Sometimes it has been erroneously identified as an early Excelsior concept mock up, but it’s definitely the test model ship (which looks like a Star Destroyer with a saucer section and nacelles), that later appeared in the graveyard of ships following the battle at Wolf 359 in The Next Generation‘s “Best Of Both Worlds, Part 2.”

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20. As the Enterprise approaches its docking position within Earth Spacedock, a small crowd of people watch the ship creep in, one of whom is Janice Rand, former personal Yeoman to Kirk and Transporter Chief on the Enterprise (Star Trek: The Motion Picture). 

She, of course, shakes her head gently at the state the ship is in after Kirk’s little “training cruise” and run in with Khan (and the extra damage that wasn’t from that battle, that must have occurred between Spock’s capsule being launched and the vessel returning to Earth).

It’s worth noting that Grace Lee Whitney is credited as “Woman in Cafeteria” and said herself it’s not Rand. If it isn’t, why the disapproving look? Mind you – she is wearing a Commander rank insignia…

21. The voice of the flight recorder is that of Harve Bennett – executive producer on Star Trek II through to Star Trek V.

22. Some familiar faces are to be found in the film. That is indeed Migel Ferrer who played Bob Morton in Robocop (1987), and Owen Grainger from NCIS: Los Angeles as the cocky First Officer of the Excelsior, who is at the helm as the ship departs Earth Spacedock in pursuit of the stolen Enterprise.

23. There are more. Captain Styles is played by James Sikking who was Lt Hunter in Hill Street Blues and Dr. David Howser in Doogie Houser MD, with the young Neil Patrick Harris.

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24. And then there’s Christopher Lloyd. Beneath the make-up and prosthesis to create Commander Kruge, Doc Brown’s eyes and voice shine through, even when speaking the langage of Qo’noS.

25. One more? Dame Judith Anderson’s last on-screen film performance was as the Vulcan High Priestess, T’lar, the character who returned Spock’s Katra to his regenerated form.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

26. The captain of the Miranda Class U.S.S Saratoga (NCC-1887) is played by Madge Sinclair. This is actually quite a massive statement, as she was not only the first female Starfleet captain seen on screen, but she isn’t white either. Fortunately, that’s not the rarity now that it was in 1986.

Sinclair is known for her role in Roots, and went on to be Queen to James Earl Jones’ King in both Coming To America and The Lion King. Her next foray into Star Trekreunited her with a fellow Roots cast member, as she played Captain LaForge, mother to LeVar Burton’s Geordi LaForge, in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “Interface.”

27. Anyone for tennis? Captain Joel Randolph of the refitted USS Yorktown NCC-1717 is played by Indian tennis star, Vijay Amritraj. Hopefully that makeshift solar sail kept them all alive, because the ship got a further refit and was rechristened by the end of the film…

28. The slingshot around the star or sun maneuvre to take a vessel into “time warp” was something the crew had indeed done before in the original Star Trek TV series. It was in the episodes “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” and “Assignment: Earth.” 

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29. During the slingshot time travel sequence, there are several samples of speech played, all processed, and they’re actually snippets from later on in the film. Wibbly, wobbly, timey, wimey, indeed!

30. You remember the scene with Scotty, Bones and Sulu by the building with the Yellow Pages advert daubed across it? A little boy was supposed to come running out, and was to be one of Hikaru’s ancestors (great great grandfather, according to the script), also named Hikaru. However, the scene was cut down due to the young boy who was hired having problems on the day.

31. Hello computer?!? The Apple Mac wasn’t supposed to be in the factory, and the original Commodore Amiga model was originally supposed to be in its place. Commodore Business Machines refused to send a sample machine for filming and simply told the film crew that they had to buy one. Apple just sent a machine and a member of staff to help out.

Commodore also stated it didn’t want to be associated with Star Trek. Facepalm…

32. The Constitution class refit vessel shown at the end of the film with its new name and registry USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A is a re-christened older vessel (which explains a little of Star Trek VI). It was suggested by Gene Roddenberry and actually stated in the Star Trek: The Next Generationseries bible that the USS Yorktown NCC-1717 – as mentioned at the beginning of the film – became the replacement Enterprise to honor Kirk and his crew for saving Earth from the whale probe.

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A similar gesture was made in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when the Defiant class USS Sao Paulo was re-christened as the second Defiant class USS Defiant (this also was supposed to have the same registry as the destroyed Defiant with a -A added, but the model was never updated).

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

33. Rear Admiral Robert ‘Bob’ Bennett is actually Harve Bennett, executive Producer on Star Trek II through to V. It was the poor performance of Star Trek V that saw him step down from Paramount.

34. The Yeoman who hands Captain Kirk the Captain’s log device is played by William Shatner’s daughter, Melanie, who also appeared in the original series episode “Miri.”

35. The original actor cast to play Sybok was Sean Connery, but due to scheduling conflicts, the role went to Laurence Lukinbill. Sean Connery made Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade instead.

36. The Terran ambassador, St John Talbot, in Star Trek V is David Warner. At the time, he was a Shakespearean actor who was known for The Omen and Tron – his career expanded somewhat later on…

37. The Klingon ambassador, General Koord, is played by the prolific television actor Charles Cooper. His next Star Trek role would see a huge jump in rank as he led the Klingon High Council in Star Trek: The Next Generation as K’mpec.

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38. The planet Sha Ka Ree’s resident entity that masquerades as God is played by George Murdock, who is eminently more recognisable in two other roles. Those would be Dr. Salik in the original Battlestar Galactica and Admiral J P Hanson in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes “The Best Of Both Worlds” parts one and two, the character not making it out of the battle of Wolf 359.

39. The early effects shot in the film of Earth Spacedock and the camera panning over USS Excelsior to the Enterprise-A are re-used shots from Star Trek IV produced by Industrial Light & Magic. The rest of the special effect shots are not close to the same standard, as ILM was not able to work on the film and the budget for effects was continually cut as filming proceeded, resulting in questionable quality.

40. Most of the internal corridor shots aboard the Enterprise are actually of the corridors from the Galaxy Class USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D, as the film used some of the Next Generation sets given that both productions were being filmed simultaneously.

41. The film did so poorly in domestic and early international box office returns that it was the first and remains the only Star Trek film to go direct to video in further afield worldwide territories.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

42. Boom! Cue the ‘Praxis Wave’ (aka the ‘Praxis Effect’)! Not only an ear splitting and audience awakening moment, but one that resulted in an iconic special effect being created by Industrial Light & Magic, which would be re-used in other future productions, most notably for the destruction of the Death Star in the special edition of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

43. The Undiscovered Country was meant to be the title of the second Star Trek film and was the title of the final screenplay for that film, by Nicholas Meyer. 

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44. David Warner turns up in his second Star Trek role as Chancellor Gorkon, leader of the Klingon High Council. He would go on to also play Gul Madred, the torturer of Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s sixth season two parter “Chain Of Command.”

There are four lights!

45. Yep that’s Kim Catrall, who you probably first noticed in Porky‘s or the first Police Academy, playing Lt. Valeris. She, of course, went on to play Samantha in Sex In The City

Her character was a replacement for Saavik, whom Gene Roddenberry objected to as the traitor in the storyline. There was also a practical issue in that Kirstie Alley was not available and Nicholas Meyer was not a fan of Robin Curtis’ version of Saavik, and they were not about to recast the character again. Interestingly Kim Catrall auditioned for Saavik originally for the second Star Trek film.

46. A little way into the film you’ll notice that the President of the United Federation of Planets seems awfully familiar… it’s Clarence Boddicker! Kurtwood Smith’s first Star Trek appearance is as the Efrosian President in the film, and was followed up by an appearance in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a Cardassian called Thrax. He then landed another Star Trek role as Annorax in the Star Trek: Voyager two parter, “Year Of Hell.”

47. Michael Dorn appears as Kirk and McCoy’s lawyer during the trial sequence, playing his Star Trek: The Next Generation character’s grandfather – Colonel Worf, father of Mogh. This means Michael Dorn has appeared as one Worf or another in five Star Trek films, seven seasons of “The Next Generation” and three seasons of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

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48. Brock Peters is the fourth actor in the film to end up in Deep Space Nine. He reprises his role from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as Admiral Cartwright, but also went on to play the brilliant chef, Joseph Sisko – Captain Sisko’s father.

49. The hills are alive with the sound of Klingon Opera. General Chang is Christopher Plummer, best known for his role as Captain Georg von Trapp  in The Sound Of Music.

It is less well known that in a 1950s production of Henry V at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Christopher fell ill and his understudy had to take his place on stage. That understudy was a certain William Shatner…

50. The purple blood in the film was simply to avoid a much higher age rating, and is completely at odds with every other depiction of Klingon blood in other films and all the television episodes.

51. The Blu-ray pressing of the film is the only time the theatrical version of the film has been released on home formats. Missing key scenes included those featuring Colonel West, played by Rene Auberjonois, who would go on to take the role of Constable Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

52. The late Merrick Butrick as David appears in a photo in Captain Kirk’s quarters, even though the actor had passed away from an AIDS/HIV-complicated toxoplasmosis in 1989, after appearing in the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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53. Both Nichelle Nichols (Commander Uhura) and Brock Peters (Admiral Cartwright) had severe difficulties with the script. Nichelle refused point blank to say one line with nasty racial overtones, while “guess who’s coming to dinner” was also changed to a line from Commander Uhura to Commander Chekov. 

The whole scene involving Admiral Cartwright saying “bring them to their knees” in reference to the Klingons, is a nod to another film in which it was used in relation to African Americans. Hugely unpleasant for both actors.

54. As with Star Trek VStar Trek: The Next Generation sets were borrowed for the Enterprise-A, the engineering set being the most blatant (they literally painted a couple of things and switched ship graphics!) This suggests that the ship had a major upgrade compared to its near exterior-identical predecessor.

55. General Chang’s Eyepatch appears to be fastened by nails into the character’s face – each of these have tiny Klingon symbols that are just about visible on the Blu-ray.

56. Linguist Marc Okrand based the Klingon language on a few phrases from Star Trek: The Motion Picture which were made up by James Doohan. Some scenes had already been filmed in English for Star Trek III when he started work creating the expanded language and thus some phrases look to use similar lip movements to English to match.

During the creation of the language, Marc decided to not have the verb ‘to be’ as part of the language. As he said himself on camera, this worked out fine until Star Trek VI came along and he was asked to translate a certain line from Hamlet

57. After a brief cameo as Communications Officer Rand in Star Trek IV during the power outage, Grace Lee Witney returns as Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Janice Rand, now the Communications Officer on the USS Excelsior in Star Trek VI, and then again in the Star Trek: Voyager episode, “Flashback.”