StarTrek.com interview with Robin Curtis (2012)
Robin talks about auditioning for the role of Saavik, Saavik being half Romulan or not, and her part in ST IV being cut down so much to leave only a cameo appearance for her. (more/close)
Let’s go back to Star Trek III. How many times did you audition for the role of Saavik?
Curtis: I remember the process very, very, very clearly. I interviewed with the casting people. That really wasn’t an audition, because there was nothing to read. Almost a day to two days later I met Leonard Nimoy one on one. That was first time I read any sides, as it were, from the script. I did not audition again until the screen test. So it was the gentlest experience. I’d never experienced anything quite like that and I think Leonard had a lot to do with that. Here was an actor stepping out from in front of the character to behind the camera, and I think he had a special empathy with how crazy-making and how anxiety-making that process is for an actor. So he took all the craziness out of it. He videotaped my audition, so I didn’t have to go back and recreate that for Harve Bennett at the producers’ audition or for Gary Nardino at the executive vice-president of Paramount audition. New people always come into each subsequent audition when you go back for callbacks. That never happened on Star Trek III, and it was lovely.
Did Nimoy ever say why, specifically, he chose you?
Curtis: At the end of my first meeting with him he shook my hand. I’ll never forget it. He shook my hand at the door of the office and he said, “I have no doubt that you can do this role. Now it’s up to the powers that be.” Honestly, and I’m not being coy or insincerely modest, but I don’t know why he thought that. I didn’t feel like I was a slam dunk for the role at all. I was so unlike Saavik. I wasn’t self-contained or controlled. There are so many actresses who have that demeanor already, that stoic demeanor. That’s not me at all, then or now. I don’t know how I managed to contain myself, but I guess Leonard felt I succeeded enough to think I could do the role. I remember that one of the phrases that he used to give me a key into the character was “1000 years of wisdom behind the eyes.” Now, who deigns to presume they can exude 1000 years of wisdom behind their own eyes? But that was the term Leonard used to try to get across the depth of Saavik’s intelligence.
Read more here.
Your appearance in Star Trek IV ended up being a cameo. You were surely hoping for more. What happened?
Curtis: That was just such a weird left curve, to be honest. Given what had happened with Kirstie Alley, they negotiated for each film after the third, for the fourth, the fifth and the sixth. For somebody who’s 28 years old and had never made than a few bucks a year, that’s quite an event, to have a contract that provided for three films in years to come. Then, weeks and weeks before the filming (on Star Trek IV) was to begin – and the contract would then be void, because it had a timeframe on it – my people were reaching out to Paramount, saying, “What’s going on?” They wouldn’t say anything. They wouldn’t reveal. They kept putting us off. That, of course, raised a flag. “Something’s not right. This character isn’t being groomed. They will not be following the storyline that we had been led to think they would,” which was that Saavik would be pregnant and there’d be this whole connection between her and Spock. Lo and behold, all this hope that there might be greater involvement for the character turned into those few lines.
Was there more, even just on paper?
Curtis: It was just slightly more than that and then it got ratcheted down to even less when the shooting actually occurred. I do think there were a couple of lines that might have hinted that something was going on with her, and those were eliminated. So I handed over the disk and simply wished him a journey free of incident, and that was it. That was such a comedown from where they had led me to think it would go. The band-aid for me at the time was I thought the film was fabulous. I thought they’d returned to the winning recipe for Star Trek, a really simple message about the preservation of life, great use of the ensemble and giving each of the actors their own little moments, and I thought the humor came back tenfold. I thought that was all good stuff.
OK, now do us a big favor and settle an issue. Some fans argue that Saavik was Vulcan-Romulan and not just Vulcan. It's an important distinction because there are people who compare your performance to Kirstie Alley's and describe yours, for better or worse, as far more Vulcan-esque. Then there's the whole matter of the Trek novels at the time, including between Khan and Search for Spock, which stated that Saavik was half-Vulcan and half-Romulan. So, what was your understanding about all this?
Curtis: I am so glad you asked this question, and there's a lot of room for discussion on both sides of it. My understanding was that Kirstie Alley and (Khan writer-director) Nicholas Meyer wanted Saavik to be Vulcan and Romulan and he directed her to include elements of both. And the books may have elaborated on that. I'm aware of the argument about the books, in general: Are they or aren't they official, or canon? But in the case of Star Trek III and Saavik, it really didn't matter. Leonard felt that Saavik was Vulcan. That was his choice, and his choice was my choice. I played Saavik the way he asked me to play her. My job as the actress is to do what my director wants, and that's what I did.
Read more here.
StarTrek.com Interview "Doomsday" & More With Norman Spinrad (2012)
Spinrad remembers seeing William Shatner crossing out Leonard Nimoy's lines in the script when he visited the set. (more/close)
Going back to you being on set, did Shatner or Nimoy ever say anything to you about this script you’d penned for them?
Spinrad: Sure, but the funniest thing is there’s a sequence in there, dialogue, that goes Spock, Kirk, Spock, Kirk. While I’m on the set I see that William Shatner, in between takes, is sitting somewhere. He’s got the script and penciling out Spock lines, because he had something in contract saying that he had to have the most lines, that Nimoy couldn’t have more lines than he did. So, Marc Daniels, who was the director, starts to shoot this. Five blown takes. I’m there. It’s really an usual honor. You’re not really supposed to stick your nose into this. But I can’t stand it finally. I know what’s wrong. There’s a reaction line from Spock that’s missing. It just can’t work (without it). So I call Marc Daniels over into the corner. I said, “Listen, Marc, the reason you’re having trouble with this is because of the missing Spock line that Shatner took out. I know the whole reason why that is. We can’t put it back in, but maybe you just tell Leonard to grunt. Can you get away with a grunt?” And that’s the way they shot it.
Catherine Hicks on the 25th Anniversary of 'Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home'
Hicks talks about the movies appeal to general audiences, the first meeting with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. (more/close)
Catherine Hicks on the 25th Anniversary of 'Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home'
My dad hated science fiction movies, but not only did he agree to take me to see 'Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,' I remember him really enjoying it. It's so different than any other 'Star Trek' movie.
It is. I mean, we got mainline great reviews as a legitimate film. And Leonard Nimoy got legitimate directorial complements and he got subsequent mainline feature films. I think because it took place on Earth and it's accessible to people. It was in San Francisco and it was a real cause about the whales. It was less outer space and more down to Earth, literally. And it was emotional and it was human. It just was normal.
Where you familiar with the series at all before you got the role?
No. Not at all. I think it charmed [Nimoy] that I was like the character, utterly naïve of the genre and the history of it.
And you had to meet with Shatner?
Well, I auditioned a couple of times and then Leonard wanted to show me to Shatner. And he had to go to Bill's horse ranch in Burbank. And I grew up in Arizona, but I am not a horse person. And I thought, Oh my gosh, if the horse doesn't like me, Bill will influence Leonard decision. So I was pretty nervous. Then I remember Bill saying to Leonard, "Hell, Leonard, she's worked with Coppola and Sidney Lumet. She's worked with better people than we have. Hire her."
There's a rumor that Shatner demanded a love interest in this film. Have you heard that?
No, I didn't know. I know it was my idea to kiss him at the end. So I played it as a romance. But, again, I didn't know any of the history -- that Shatner was a playboy. I took it all at face value.
How do you do that? Just tell Leonard that this is what you want to do?
It wasn't really ... I just leaned forward and chose to kiss him and whispered, "See you around the galaxy." I wanted a little bit of breathiness there.
Was Shatner the big man on campus?
He's like a mischievous brother. He tried to, maybe, just a little bit, undermine -- but always in a playful way -- Leonard's confidence. Like, "Are you really going to do the shot that way, Leonard? Really?" And Leonard would be, "What do you mean?" And I had to fight for a couple of close-ups. I'd say, "No, no, no. I'm fighting for my whales. It's a single shot. Don't let him be in my shots." Bill wanted it to be a two shot. But then Leonard just said, "Don't worry Cat, I know Bill. We go back a long way." And Leonard was very supportive and very smart about acting. He's so calm; he's such a nice person.
George Takei (2011)
George Takei talks about his new series on Nickelodeon, Supah Ninjas, and Leonard Nimoy also gets a mention. (more/close)
Takei would love to see some of his old Trek cast mates guesting as the bad guys.
“Oh, I certainly can. I think Leonard [Nimoy] would make a wonderful villain. Although Leonard has announced that he is moving onto a different phase of his life. His current passion is photography. And he is very good. He does everything well. He is meticulous. He is detail oriented. And his photographs are works of art. So he’s announced that he won’t be doing any more Star Trek conventions, or considering any acting again. I’m hoping we may be able to entice him away from that with a juicy villain role.
“I know Bill [Shatner] will be available. Bill will do anything and everything.”
Do you still see Leonard Nimoy (Spock) at all?
“Yes, I see him fairly regularly and we are political compatriots. As a matter of fact, when the human rights campaign decided to give me the equality award for my campaign for equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, Leonard was the one who gave me the award and then he said some glowing, laudatory lies about me! [Laughs] So yeah, he’s a very good friend.”
StarTrek.com Interview with A.C. Crispin (2011)
A.C. Crispin, author of Yesterday's Son, Time for Yesterday and Sarek, to mention only a few, talked about her thoughts about the new movie and what the TOS actors had to say about her treatment of their characters in the novels she wrote for Pocket Books. (more/close)
How were you first brought into the Star Trek fold? How much did you know about Trek in advance of your first book? How much research did you do?
Crispin: I was a Star Trek fan from the early days of the show. I’d watched all of the episodes many times. I had read many of the novels and all of the James Blish novelizations. So I knew Star Trek inside and out when I wrote Yesterday’s Son on a whim. I did some research to write the book, mostly about arctic terrain and survival in arctic regions. But since I used established settings, mostly I only wrote about what I already knew from watching the show for all those years.
In your Trek books -- and the comic book you co-wrote -- you really explored the inner lives of Spock and Sarek. What intrigued you most about the characters? And what do you think you added to the lore of Vulcans in general and to Spock, Sarek and Zar specifically?
Crispin: From the beginning I was fascinated -- pardon the pun -- by Mr. Spock and Vulcan. As a child of the 60’s, the idea that Vulcans were strong, and capable, anything but wimps, yet their entire planet embraced pacifism, really inspired me. Also, Mr. Spock was smart, and I identified with his intelligence, yet (also) his “apartness.” He was a character pulled between worlds… this is a characterization a writer can really sink her teeth into! So I worked very hard at being able to set inside the skin of my Vulcan characters, and write them in a way that was true to their nature, yet made them understandable and allowed readers to empathize with them. I also loved Mr. Roddenberry’s optimistic vision of the future. I wanted to go live in that future, and I was able to, at least for as long as it took to write my novels. As for Zar, it seemed to me when I watched “All Our Yesterdays” that the episode cried out for a sequel… so I sat down and wrote it. Regarding adding Trek “lore”… I suppose I was able to add a bit. I recall inventing a rather nasty weapon from the time of Surak that Romulans still used for Sarek… a senapa, I believe it was called. That was fun.
Let's be cruel here and ask you to do the following: please give us two sentences summing up your thoughts -- what you felt worked best, what readers responded to most, etc. -- in each of your Trek stories.
Crispin: Yesterday’s Son; I think readers were hungry in that era for stories that explored the inner lives of the Trek characters, and my book did that. Especially in the case of Mr. Spock. Time for Yesterday; I’m proudest of that book, out of all four of my Trek novels, because it was a prequel to Wrath of Khan, my favorite Trek film. Also, it was fun to write a love story for Zar. The Eyes of the Beholders; When The Next Generation aired, I decided to do something I’d never pursued before, and submitted a treatment for a teleplay about an ancient artifact that was causing a certain area of space to become a sort of outer-space Sargasso Sea. Then the Pocket editors put out a call to all their writers begging them to write a Next Gen story, and I figured a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, as they say, and converted my teleplay treatment into a novel. Sarek; I met Mark Lenard many times at Star Trek conventions over the years, and was always fascinated by the character he portrayed. We were talking about Sarek’s character at one point, and he said, “Why don’t you write a novel that tells Sarek’s story?” I felt so honored that Mark would say that, that I pitched it to my editor, and that’s how I came to write the novel.
How cool was it that Leonard Nimoy and Jimmy Doohan did the dramatic readings for a couple of your stories? And what feedback did you get from Leonard about your treatment of Spock and Sarek?
Crispin: I’ve met Mr. Nimoy a number of times over the years, and he was always polite and gracious, but the only time he ever commented on the reading he’d done for Yesterday’s Son and Time for Yesterday was to ask me once at a party whether I’d gotten my royalties from the audio department yet that year. And yes, they were running a bit late, which wasn’t all that unusual. Jimmy Doohan did read Yesterday’s Son, and told me he liked it very much, even before he was tapped to do the reading on the audio tape. MarkLenard told me he really liked Sarek. As you say, hearing that was pretty cool.
Source: Star Trek.com
StarTrek.com Interview with Mariette Hartley (2011)
Mariette Hartley talked about All Our Yesterdays, kissing Spock and learning all about sex from Star Trek... (more/close)
Take us back to December, 1968, and the shooting of your episode.
Hartley: When I did my episode, I just loved the script, loved the idea that this strange man (Spock) was finally going to be schtupped and I was going to be the one to do it, and that I was going to be the one to teach him how to not be a vegetarian. So I loved the idea. Then, when they showed me the costume, I thought I was going to die. But I sensed that it was a very special thing when I was doing it. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was because of the script or the costume or the makeup, but there was a special-ness to it. I mean, who had any idea that it’d become what it has? I don’t think Leonard (Nimoy) or Bill (Shatner) had any idea, either.
What else do you recall of the actual production?
Hartley: I’m surprised how many memories I have of it, really. But when you kiss Spock, I mean, come on! I remember De Kelley. I remember the whole thing vividly. I remember taking off that huge coat, the fur coat, and people going, “Oh, wow.” I had no idea that I had a figure. I come from Connecticut. I had no idea what sexuality was. I was doing Shakespeare.
Everything you learned about sex, you learned from Star Trek?
Hartley: Absolutely (laughs). Absolutely. And Leonard, too, quite clearly. But I do remember it vividly. I remember being in the cave. I remember the lighting in the cave. Marvin Chomsky was a terrific director, very caring, and Jerry Finnerman, who unfortunately recently passed away, was a wonderful director of photography. He came in with this kind of magic, and I was fascinated with that, too, because the only things I’d done up until then were black and white, except for Ride the High Country, the Peckinpah film. I remember that the cave was lit with red and green. I remember that De was asleep and ill, and one time I was thinking, “Well, we’re going to be making a lot of noise, Mr. Nimoy and I. Aren’t we going to wake up De in the middle of all this?” And there was the whole thing about getting back into the time (portal). I just loved the brilliance of the imagination. I’ve been lucky, because I’d also worked on The Twilight Zone with Rod Serling. So I’ve been at the peak of these shows.
Source: Star Trek.com
StarTrek.com Interview with Rick Berman (2011)
Rick Berman talked to StarTrek.com about producing Star Trek series TNG to Enterprise and why Leonard Nimoy gave Generations a pass. (more/close)
Berman: It was kind of naïve for myself and Brannon (Braga) and Ron (Moore) to jump into the movie business with really very little experience on how it worked. We had a bit of a falling out with (potential Generations director) Leonard Nimoy, in retrospect, over the procedural elements of how the development, writing, production, and direction of a feature film are different from television.
Source: Star Trek.com
Ralph Senensky Talks About Directing TOS (2011)
Get a behind the scenes scoop on This Side of Paradise and more at his blog from the director of the episode himself, Ralph Senensky, featuring also a thank you letter from Mr. Nimoy to him. (more/close)
STAR TREK was a phenomenon. I directed six and a half episodes of the original series, working a total of ninety days. I worked many more days than that on just the pilot of DYNASTY. I directed twice as many episodes of THE WALTONS and two and half times as many episodes of THE FBI; I directed more episodes of THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY and more episodes of THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER than I did of STAR TREK. And yet today if you google-search my name on the internet, you will think I spent most of my career directing STAR TREK. So although STAR TREK was five years after I began my journey in film, let’s begin our trek into the past there.
Television scenes at that time rarely ran longer than three minutes. The first conversation between the Enterprise trio and the two Romans [Bread And Circuses] was more than twice that. The page count for the sequence was eight and one-eighth pages. The scene was cerebral exposition and did not call for any movement once the five people entered and were seated. (Plus which any movement would have required additional camera setups and time to light them.) It was on days like this that I was appreciative of the five talented actors who comprised the cast. I must put in a word here about leading actors in episodic television. Bill Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley, after a long twelve hour day such as the one including this sequence (and there were three additional short scenes in this same set that only involved Shatner and guest stars), they would then go home with the requirement to memorize the scenes for the following day. To do it at all was an accomplishment. To do it with such skill — I bow my head in admiration.
The role of Spock was both a starmaker and potential cage for Leonard Nimoy. The unemotional character was an unusual creation that added substance, even comedy, to the series. But most of the time, for an actor with Leonard’s capabilities, it was limiting. Whenever there was a way to release him from these strictures (as in THIS SIDE OF PARADISE) it was edifying and entertaining. I’m not sure which Gene was responsible for the jail cell scene between Spock and Doc after the arena (although I have my suspicions), but I felt it gave Leonard (and DeForest too) a chance to break away from the usual comic bickering relationship of their characters.
Our first day of filming [Is There In Truth No Beauty?], Tuesday, July 16th, arrived, and I was greeted with a mutiny on the Enterprise. Bill Shatner and Leonard Nimoy had very strong objections to a portion of the scene we were scheduled to do that day and were refusing to film. Since the objection was to dialogue involving a piece of jewelry that Gene Roddenberry had designed, he was summoned to the set. (I have since learned that Leonard Nimoy first phoned producer Fred Freiberger to tell him of the problem. When Freiberger refused to take any action, Leonard called Roddenberry.) The morning was spent in a round table war with the six characters involved in the scene plus Gene and me. But the battle was strictly Bill and Leonard vs Gene. Bill and Leonard felt Gene was using the scene as a promotional commercial for a pin he had designed; the pin was part of Leonard’s costume. Gene vehemently denied these accusations, but the guys were adamant in their refusal to be a part of something they considered to be commercially oriented. The final result of the long morning’s angry combat was that Gene agreed to rewrite the scene. That meant it could not be filmed that day. The balance of work on that first day’s schedule was four short sequences (that totaled a page and a half) in the Enterprise corridor. I did not want my first day’s work to be limited to a page and a half of what I called “bread and butter” scenes, so I suggested we do a dramatic three page scene between Diana Muldaur and David Frankham.
Gene Roddenberry, in his conception of the character of Spock, and Leonard Nimoy, in his total realization of that character, had boxed in an enormously versatile actor. Earlier in THIS SIDE OF PARADISE Spock was freed emotionally by the spores, and Leonard was able to use his talent far beyond the constraints of Spock’s character. The mind link was another route to that same freedom.
If I don’t remember much about the prep week [The Tholian Web], the same cannot be said about the filming week, which began on Monday, August 5th. When I reported at 7:30 that Monday morning, the set (the bridge of the Defiant) was ready, the crew was assembled, I was prepared. But there were no actors. The four of them were in wardrobe, having their final fittings for their silver space-suits. I was told they had been at the studio the day before (Sunday) for their FIRST fittings. As of the end of the day on Friday, since construction of the wardrobe for the first sequence Monday morning had not even begun, a change in the schedule should have been made; but nothing had been done by the production department to adjust for this predicament. My friend, Max Hodge, who was on a writing assignment for MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, was at the studio and dropped by my set. Since there was nothing I could do until wardrobe was completed, the two of us went to the set next door to visit the current MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE in production, which was guest starring my friend (from ROUTE 66), Ruth Roman.
Finally Bill Shatner’s suit was completed, so I filmed some isolated closeups of Captain Kirk. There weren’t many, and it meant filming the closeups before we had staged and rehearsed the scenes in which they occurred. Just before noon the other three skin-tight silver space-suits were ready, and we could begin.
There was an additional wrinkle in the day’s work. Well actually it was caused by not wanting any wrinkles. The costumes were skin-tight with no zippers; they would have shown. They had no buttons or snaps. The guys were SEWN into the space-suits. That meant when any of them needed to make a visit to the restroom, they had to be unsewn; when they were ready to return to the set, they had to be resewn into the suits. Zippers are faster!
Original Series Producer Herb Solow Comments on J.J. Abrams Star Trek Movie (2009)
For the BBC he sat down to let us know what he thought of the film and the performances of the two Spocks. (more/close)
I've saved my Spock reaction for the final comment. The Mr Spock character was 20% created by Gene Roddenberry, 20% created by me and 60% created by Leonard Nimoy.
The young Mr Spock was certainly commendable. But I missed the depth of Leonard's Spock, and the centuries of knowledge that always lurked in his eyes.
The single most emblematic phrase of our original series is 'Live Long and Prosper'.
I hope the new series of movies will have that long life, and that Star Trek will continue to prosper.
Miguel Ferrer - ST III (2009)
Miguel Ferrer, probably best known for his role as the title character's boss in Crossing Jordan, remembers filming The Search for Spock, playing the Excelsior's first officer. (more/close)
George Takei Thinks Mr. Nimoy is Quite the Diplomat (2006)
NPR did an interview with George Takei. The subject was gay rights and in the interview it was mentioned that Leonard Nimoy came to see Takei in Equus. (more/close)
Mr. TAKEI: I did a run in Equus here in Los Angeles. And Leonard came to see me. Leonard Nimoy.
Mr. TAKEI: ...who had done the play in New York. And he came back stage, and grinned his wry and very diplomatic grin at me, and said, You were better.
SIMON: Aw. Yeah.
Mr. TAKEI: I mean, what else could he have said?
SIMON: Well, what a compliment.
Mr. TAKEI: He is such a great diplomat.
DeForest Kelley (2005)
Mr. Nimoy certainly acted on his principles carrying weight as a producer on Star Trek VI when he made sure DeForest Kelley didn't need to worry about financial security once their era was over with the last film starring the original crew. (more/close)
Certainly, the actors had not reaped the huge rewards that the franchise and Paramount did. Kelley fully supported Shatner five years before, when he kicked until he was paid $1 million for Star Trek IV. For V Kelley himself dug in and insisted on some recognition of his value. What a minuscule percentage that was, considering the benefits his labors returned. For Star Trek VI, Kelley gleefully rhymed, "For I never thought that I'd see the day—When Spock would control my movie pay—Even so, I'll never get rich—Because of that green-blooded son of a bitch!" Really, with Nimoy as executive producer on Star Trek VI, it was agreed in 1990 that Kelley was to be paid $1 million, a stunning amount of money for two elderly folks on Greenleaf. Under Nimoy's reign, Kelley was assured a comfortable old age come hell or high water.
Source: From Sawdust to Stardust. The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. McCoy. Terry Lee Rioux. Pocket Books, 2005, p. 297-298.
Mr. Nimoy also remembered DeForest Kelley in a recent tweet in the wake of announcing the last conventions he is going to do. "De Kelley. Another steadfast friend. Warmly remembered in our hearts. LLAP"
Robin Curtis - ST III (2000)
Robin talks about audioning for Saavik and how she felt welcome from the first meeting with Mr. Nimoy on. (more/close)
Robin Curtis - ST III
When Robin first auditioned for the movie, she had no idea what was in store for her. In fact, she didn't even know she was being considered for the role of Saavik.
"I went out on an audition — and I did many at that time — for the casting people at Paramount. And, lo and behold, it seems that meeting went so well they felt I ought to meet Leonard Nimoy. I went back to Paramount and I had a lovely one-on-one meeting with Leonard, which is a rare thing.
"It was very relaxed. Normally these kind of meetings are very pressured and tense, and anxiety-ridden, and you feel like your whole life is riding an whatever you do or say. This was quite the opposite; it was very warm, and Leonard was an easy person to talk to. He suggested that we read a little bit from the script, and that went well. At that point, he shook my hand and said he didn't have any doubt I could play the part, but now it was up to the big machinery It was one of those meetings where someone gave you a nod as you were going, versus how you normally leave, which is not knowing how the heck you did or what impression you made."
"I think what was loveliest about all of that was that no one made me feel like I was filling her [[Kirsty Alley's]] shoes. No one, not any of the actors, not Harve Bennett [producer], not Nimoy, no one. The perspective at the time was that this was the beginning; this was new and fresh, and Saavik was starting all over again. That was really lovely and very generous of them, and I think it was a very smart choice to make. I don't know that any actor is going to do half as well trying to repeat what someone else has done, rather than starting on their own and seeing what kind of stab they take at it."
Robin feels that this new beginning was particularly appropriate because STAR TREK III was being directed by Leonard Nimoy himself, the world expert on Vulcans. It was clear to her that he had very strong ideas about the character, and that accordingly this Saavik would be subtly different to the one portrayed in the previous film.
"It seems to me that Leonard had a much stricter, Vulcan view of the character. He guided me very carefully, very cautiously, almost to the minutiae of where I breathed; and any kind of emotion that was inflected was immediately excised. He was pretty determined that it was to be a Vulcan portrayal, which was fine with me. I thought, `Who better to guide me?'
Robin was signed up to play Saavik in several movies, but in the end she only appeared in STAR TREK III and IV.
"I had no previous knowledge of STAR TREK; certainly not to the extent that I was even remotely equipped to teLl him what I thought Saavik ought to be doing. I just put myself in his hands. I like to think of myself as a blank sheet of paper upon which he wrote. That was my goal. I don't know that I achieved that necessarily, but that's what I was trying desperately to do."
Source: Star Trek The Magazine 2000.
Mark Lenard - Father Knows Best (1991)
Mark Lenard remembers working with Mr. Nimoy as a director and a conversation with Jane Wyatt about "sonny boy" in this Starlog interview. (more/close)
"You always need directing," Lenard asserts. "A director is sometimes called the Third Eye, another eye looking at you, and every actor needs that."
"Leonard certainly didn't have to tell me about the role. In Star Trek III, he didn't say anything at all. I thought I would be starting my scenes with something simple, but I started where Sarek comes to Kirk's place and performs the mindmeld. The only things Leonard said were during that mindmeld. When they were doing a close-up of Bill Shatner's eye, Leonard stopped. It had been going very well. Bill is very good to work with and play off of; He gets down to business and works very hard, which is fun. But Leonard stopped us because I had my finger pulling away the skin from the eye and you just saw the white of Bill's eye.
"Then, the other time, he did say, 'Speak my lines - the ones about the needs of the many - once, the ways Spock said it in Star Trek II.' I did it one time as if it were Leonard's voice coming out of me, low and throaty. It was an interesting idea. We did it three or four different ways."
"One good thing about Leonard Nimoy, after every take he would say, 'Good. That was good. Once more.' He was always encouraging, and actors need that. They're Particularly sensitive and vulnerable beings. No matter how good they feel they are, you get some little jerk out there who says, 'I didn't like it.' You begin to wonder. It doesn't take much.
"When Leonard and I did our scene together in Star Trek IV - we play well together - we did the master shot and people applauded and it went very well. Then we started doing close-ups. That got a little tricky. We got to Leonard's close-up and he was wearing two different shoes - actor and director. When the concentration wavers, it doesn't feel as good as it should, and in the middle there, he says something, then finishes and announces, 'Cut, let's pick up.' The pick-up is when Spock says, 'They are my friends.' He said it in a way that was uncharacteristic of Spock so he redid it and censored himself, directed himself and did it in a way that was more in keeping with Spock."
Sometime after we finished shooting the movie [ST IV], I was at the airport and who should I run into but Jane Wyatt. She said, 'Hi Dad!' Leonard Nimoy greets me as 'Pop' - I'm becoming everyone's father. Anyway, she said, ''What did you think of sonny boy? She asked me that question because in her scene with him, she thought his eyes were darting around a little bit when the camera was on her. It was a little distracting. When the camera was on Leonard for his close-ups, he was very concentrated. I said, 'All things considered, it went very well.''
"I asked Leonard how it felt keeping the two jobs separate. He said, 'Before the camera rolls, I am the director and taking charge of production. When I step in front of the camera, there's Dad and we work.' He is blessed for having such a good concentration."
"We had a reading of the script at Leonard's house. In the last scene, there is the meeting with T'Lar to perform the ancient ritual of Fal-tor-pan. T'Lar says to Sarek that this is not logical. In the original script, Sarek says, 'Forgive me, T'Lar. My logic fails me where my son is concerned.'
'Bill Shatner thought that line was not consistent with Vulcan philosophy, and I agreed with him. Harve Bennett, who wrote it, and Leonard Nimoy thought it was fine. We had this discussion where it was Harve and Leonard against Bill and me. Leonard said, 'I do know a little something about the Vulcans.' I said, 'Yes, but who taught you everything you know?'
"Harve, who is the great compromiser, came up with, 'My logic is uncertain where my son is concerned.' Both Bill and I could live with that, so that's what we shot."
Source: Starlog Yearbook Vol. 8, 1991.
Some Vulcan "family" pictures are here.
Jane Wyatt - Mother Knows Best (1991)
As she tells us in this Starlog interview, she only did a handful of conventions ever and also remarks on her cameo in Star Trek IV. (more/close)
Of course, the TV guest shot for which she's most frequently remembered was as Amanda, wife of Vulcan ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard) and mother to Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in the classic Star Trek episode "Journey to Babel." "My agent called up and said. 'Do you want to be on Star Trek and I said, 'What is it?' I had a look and they sent a script, and I thought it would be fun. I went there the first time thinking. 'Well. we'll all have a good laugh over this,' but not at all. Everybody in makeup, having their ears put on and everything else, was so serious. That's what made it so good—they were dead serious."
Although that serious attitude was maintained on the set, Wyatt enjoyed the Star Trek experience and liked working with other members of the cast. "Oh, it was great fun. Mark Lenard [Sarek] was very good—I see he's in the new TV series [The Next Generation], he's now over 200 years old, but they've killed Amanda off - she was human. Mark is so good looking when he gets his Star Trek clothes on, and his ears are so good! And I think my 'son' [Nimoy] is better looking with his ears, too—I think all men ought to wear pointed ears, they're very becoming. aren't they?"
Wyatt is no Trek fan: She hasn't seen "Journey to Babel" since it was first aired, she couldn't tell you the first thing about the current state of Vulcan-Klingon race relations, and she didn't even know that her name was Amanda in the show until fans started yelling it at her at a Trek convention. "No. I'm no Trekker, but I have a grandson who is, so if I ever have any doubt about anything I call him up and he tells me over the phone."
She enjoyed working with series regulars Nimoy and William Shatner. "Shatner, I had seen in New York in several plays, and he was a very nice, light comedian, and very good. I don't know how good he is now in it, but he was a very good actor on the stage and he had been trained in classical things. He did light comedy very well—it was the time of the drawing room comedy, and he was really entertaining. I had great fun with him on the set. My 'son'—he was more dour. I've gotten to know Leonard since then and like him very much, but at that time, he didn't really talk much. He was always busy on the telephone with a new deal!"
Wyatt reprised her role in 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. "[Producer] Harve Bennett called me up to ask me to do Star Trek IV—they called it a cameo and I called it a bit, but never mind. I said, 'Oh, I would love to.' But then, it turned out they wanted me to do it at the time that I was going with my husband fishing at Christmas Island in the Pacific, and I said. 'I'm sorry, I couldn't.' Harve said, 'Oh, no, no, we can rearrange it'—which they did. And when I walked on the set after coming back from Christmas Island, Harve Bennett wasn't there, but I had a telegram from him that said, 'Welcome Home, Mommie Dearest!'"
(...) Her cameo in Star Trek IV reunited Wyatt with Nimoy, who was directing the film as well as co-starring. "I liked Leonard very much on that, he was an extremely good director and I thought the picture was good. But I don't really like acting with somebody who's also directing, because you're talking to them and in your close-up, he's looking to make sure the lights are all right, etc., and he's not concentrated. When he did his close
shots, he did it with so much more intensity; if I had known he was going to do it like that, I would have done mine a little differently. But he was thinking about other things. I think that's always true if you're directing and acting in the darn thing, unless you have a stand-in who acts for you." Wyatt worked only two days on Star Trek IV: the first day on the scene in which Amanda is reunited with Spock and the second, a silent shot of Amanda and Saavik (Robin Curtis) waving goodbye as the Enterprise crew heads back toward Earth.
More recently, Wyatt has attended a pair of Star Trek conventions; not being a Trek buff, one has to wonder if she really enjoyed the offbeat experience. "Not very much," she smiles apologetically. "I did them because the young fellow who runs these things was so nice on the telephone. I've only been associated with Star Trek twice and I honestly don't understand what's going on! Leonard was with me at one out here, and when we stood up together, the place went wild, absolutely wild. He has a whole script—he reads his script and he reads his poems, and he has a whole routine that has been written for him to do. I just get out there and the fans ask these questions and so forth. The question they asked me in New York really threw me for a loop: 'What is it like making love to a Vulcan?' Oh, I just didn't know what I was going to say, and then suddenly, I heard myself answering, 'Well, I'm not the kind of girl that kisses and tells!' They know everything, those people! The convention was jam-packed, it was really extraordinary! But I doubt that I would ever do another one."
Source: Starlog Yearbook Vol. 8, 1991.
John Schuck - ST III (1989)
"I don't think this is going to work," is not the first thing an actor wants to hear when going to see the director of the movie for an audition. (more/close)
John Schuck - ST III
Partly thanks to his ex-wife, a friend of Leonard Nimoy's, Schuck was called in to read for the part of the Klingon Ambassador. "Leonard Nimoy took the interview with me, and the first thing he said when I walked into the office was, 'I don't think this is going to work.' That always makes one feel very much at ease. When I asked him why not, he said it was because I was too young.
"I said, 'Well, I played Daddy Warbucks in Annie on Broadway without anything except straight makeup, and he was in his 60s and I was 39 at the time.' I happened to notice a drawing on the desk. 'That's a beautiful rendering,' I said. 'Who did it?' He said it was Bob Fletcher, the costume designer."
Schuck grins broadly, something the good-natured actor does often. "I told him I had worked with Fletcher at ACT, and asked to see it. Leonard said that it was, in fact, the part I was up for. Bob had shown an awful lot of facial hair; the Ambassador had a beard that was white with grey. My immediate response was, 'Leonard, my sixyear-old boy could get dressed up in this and look the right age. I would really like to try it.' I ended up reading—and I ended up getting the part. Now that was very, very nice."
"I used a very vocal approach to the Ambassador, and felt that I did do him as a very stentorian orator, extremely skilled andshrewd in how he chose his words, and he loved doing it. There was that sense of being on stage about the character," says Schuck. "I don't know whether I took the scene—I wasn't trying to—but I certainly felt that I commanded attention as someone of stature, and that was primarily all I wanted to do for that small amount of time. And Leonard went along with all that. As a director, he was very, very supportive.
Source: Starlog January 1989
Inside Star Trek (1976)
Gene's Journal at Roddenberry.com had an excerpt of Gene Roddenberry interviewing William Shatner from the 1976 LP Inside Star Trek. One of the things they talk about is how Shatner and Nimoy got along. (more/close)
Transcript: Roddenberry breaks the subject by saying he's going to ask a tough question. Fans were talking about rumors of there being trouble on stage, leading to the two lead actors not being on speaking terms with each other.
Shatner: "Well, ah..."
(Roddenberry offers to cut this part out, if Shatner is uncomfortable with the question.)
Shatner: "(Laughs) No. I really love Leonard. I really care for him a great deal. He is a very fine human being. He stays behind what he says with his total character. When he says something he really means it. I mean, you can take him at his word. He is slyly humorous, and very affectionate in his own way that is remarkable. And to address myself to the elements of friction on the stage - I would put it in a way that two children in the same family might squabble over something. Loving each other, but squabbling. I mean, any member of a family would know what I mean and that means all of us. If you can say 'No, I don't think that's right' in that querulous tone and be angry at the moment and then forget it the following [morning?] because you care for that person."
For the entire interview go here. (The audio file sadly is no longer available)
Gene Roddenberry's Original Pitch for Star Trek, 1964
In this document Gene Roddenberry outlines what Star Trek is, who the characters are, and what possible strories can be told. The captain, then, was Robert April and the ship named the Yorktown. Spock is not quite the man we've come to know, but the seeds are there. (Submitted by Grace. Many thanks.) (more/close)
The First Lieutenant
The captain's right-hand man, the working level commander of all the ship's functions from manning the bridge to supervising the lowliest scrub detail. His name is "Mr. Spock." And the first view of him can be almost frightening – a face so heavy-lidded and satanic you might almost expect him to have a forked tail. Probably half Martian, he has a slightly reddish complexion and semi-pointed ears. But strangely – Mr- Spock's quiet temperament is in dramatic contrast to his satanic look. Of all the crew aboard, he is the nearest to Captain April's equal, physically and emotionally, as a commander of men. His primary weakness is an almost cat-like curiosity over anything the slightes "alien".
Source: Gene's Outline (pdf)