1. The day after Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan opened in US cinemas Paramount instructed Harve Bennett to set to work on the sequel. Completing the task in just 6 weeks, his original draft was entitled Star Trek III: Return To Genesis. Bennett felt it was one of the easiest scripts he'd ever worked on, as he started with Spock's line near the end "Your name is Jim" and just worked backwards.
2. Paramount also really wanted Nicholas Meyer to return as director for Star Trek III, but after he read the script Meyer passed. His reason being is that he felt Spock's death should have been final, and to resurrect him so soon was underselling the franchise. Clearly he got over this quite quickly as he co-wrote the screenplay for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and returned to the director's chair for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
3. Leonard Nimoy had taken issue against the rumours that it was his insistence that Spock be killed off in The Wrath of Khan (something featured in 10 things you might not know about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). That belief was so wide spread that even Paramount chief Michael Eisner thought it to be true. So when Nimoy said he wanted to direct the third movie, Eisner objected, feeling that anyone who clearly disliked the franchise would do a terrible job behind the camera. Nimoy met with Eisner personally to persuade him that that just wasn't the case. After the news broke that Nimoy was officially hired as director Gene Roddenberry's first reaction was that they'd "hired a director you can't fire!"
4. Although he remained uncredited, Nimoy rewrote and added to the script. In Harve Bennett's original draft the Romulans were the main villains, but Nimoy preferred the Klingon race as he felt them to be more "theatrical", and the audience would connect better with them thanks to the previous movie. When Nimoy came on board the title was changed to Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, and being aware that the world would 'know' the ending of the movie (as he stated there was no way that they could put a movie out with that title and end it with Kirk proclaiming, "Well, we looked but we couldn't find him...") he felt the film would need some huge surprises to take place on the journey there....
...and the destruction of the USS Enterprise was meant to be that big surprise. Only problem was Paramount thought the footage would be a great advance promotional tool and raise anticipation for the movie, so unbeknown to the filmmakers they instructed the PR department to include it in the trailer!
5. Before Christopher Lloyd was cast, Leonard Nimoy wanted Edward James Olmos as Commander Kruge, but Harve Bennett wasn't so keen on the future Admiral Adama.
6. During filming Leonard Nimoy's name never appeared on any of the call sheets, and Spock was referred to in the script as "Nacluv" (Vulcan spelled backwards) as played by 'Frank Force'. Nimoy also provided the voice of the Excelsior's turbolift, and again this was credited to 'Frank Force'.
7. Kirstie Alley had played Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but the character was recast for The Search For Spock with Robin Curtis wearing the pointy ears. There were mixed accounts as to why Alley did not return, for many years it was believed that she didn't want to be typecast but she later revealed that she loved the role and wanted to return. Apparently Alley had failed to communicate her desire strongly enough to her agent, who had overplayed his hand and demanded a higher fee than Paramount was willing to pay.
8. In Harve Bennett's original script he'd planned on Saavik being the one killed by the Klingons (actually, by the Romulans as it was before the antagonists were changed), but there was much debate over this between Bennett, Nimoy and the producers. Kirstie Alley's non-return may have possibly swung the decision to change this scene, as it was decided that Kirk's son, David Marcus, should die as punishment for experimenting with protomatter in the Genesis matrix. Nimoy also strongly felt this change would add a much more emotional response to the movie.
9. Nimoy encouraged William Shatner to improvise his reaction to Kirk's son's death. Shatner has given different accounts of the scene over the years, originally stating that when stumbling backwards he meant to miss the chair and slip to the ground, as we saw on screen. Later he changed his story to say he had meant to simply hit the seat hard but accidentally missed it. Either way, he stayed in character and Nimoy felt that single take was perfect.
10. Production on Star Trek III: The Search For Spock was shut down after a fire destroyed several sound stages, and caused damage to the set of the Genesis planet. Amongst the people who helped fight the blaze until fire and rescue arrived was William Shatner, who in full Kirk uniform manned a hose and passed buckets to keep the flames back.
Shatner later revealed (most probably tongue in cheek) that his act was not at all heroic, but entirely self-motivated. He was due to resume filming a new season of TJ Hooker as soon as The Search For Spock wrapped, and with the production already over schedule he was in danger of not turning up for the first day of shooting on his hit TV show - and losing an additional income!
Other Star Trek Trivia Articles
15 Things You Might Not Know About Star Trek: The Motion Picture
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek: Generations
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek: First Contact
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek: Insurrection
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek: Nemesis
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek (2009)
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek Into Darkness
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek: TOS
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek: The Next Generation
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
10 Things You Might Not know About Star Trek: Voyager
10 Things You Might Not Know About William Shatner
10 Things You Might Not Know About Leonard Nimoy
10 More Things You Might Not Know About Leonard Nimoy
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