Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Star Trek the Mo Pic

I thought it would be fun to see where some of the bit players in the first Star Trek movie are today.  Star Trek: The Motion Picture was made in 1979.  A look at the cast shows something about how the Star Trek franchise works.

When "Star Trek" the original TV series was proposed, Gene Roddenberry had a lot of trouble selling it to any major studio.  Desilu finally agreed to accept the project.  My guess is that Roddenberry had to scale back production quite a bit to make it profitable for Desilu.  The flimsy sets used in the first series show that economy.

That sort of cost savings probably stayed with the production of "Star Trek" and future endeavors in the very popular S.T. line.  Most of the cast for all things Star Trek did not include big name stars.  I think Roddenberry may have been concerned that any star would be compared to other roles they had played, to the distraction of the sci-fi story.

When you run a star ship with a huge crew, you will inevitably have many people on board who will not have much to say.  That certainly happened in the Star Trek movies.

Of course, we have the eight usual "Star Trek" stars appearing in the first movie, and two other major roles with Persis Khambatta as a lieutenant who is take over by the invader, and Stephen Collins as Cmdr. Decker.  Only Collins has any real acting credits. 

Khambatta was Miss India in 1965, and as an actress has only 20 listings on IMDb over 30 years.  She died of a heart attack at age 47.  It was said that she had to shave her head if she wanted the role as the bald Lt. Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture

We also have Mark Lenard as a Klingon in this movie.  Lenard started on "Star Trek" in 1966 as a Romulan commander.  The next year he was on again as Sarek, the Vulcan father of Mr. Spock, a role he reprised several times in later years on TV and in S.T. movies.  I guess that didn't deter him from temporarily becoming Klingon in 1979.

There is not much else to talk about as far as bit actors.  Almost everyone else in the cast could be called an extra.  Many did no other acting on screen and quite a few were seen in single TV shows and small film parts.  I guess that is one way to save money for special effects.

One extra did catch my eye.  Junero Jennings last film was Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)!


  1. You left out that Mark Lenard was evil gorilla (Urko?) in TV series of Planet of the Apes. Sadly, was such a trekkie in my teens that even gorilla suit Lenard was something I had to watch weekly.

    There's a rather sweet fan story of Lenard being sent a fan-sewn vulcan type robe, and it arriving on-set where he was working with David Soul (who'd been a tiny Trek role as a badly madeup tribesman being ruled by a computer in ep: the apple) and DS hamming it up, crawling across to Lenard in vulcan robes crying Forgive me! Forgive me! until ML raised a hand and in Heston voice said, Yes My Son But Sin No More. DS stared at him. "What? And give up Acting?"

  2. Great story, Ness. I always liked Mark Lenard. He wasn't afraid to take whatever they gave him, and I love his voice. After seeing the first Apes movie, I simply couldn't get into the TV series, but I bet it was a treasure trove of Bit Actors!


Please add your thoughts, but they will be monitored so keep it on topic.