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Nichelle Nichols Almost Had ‘Star Trek’ Cameo?

According Nichelle Nichols, the original Uhura, there was talk about her getting a cameo role in the new Star Trek movie. Nichols, who has previously spoken enthusiastically about visiting the movie set and meeting both the new Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and director JJ Abrams, made this new revaluation Saturday at the Supernova Pop Culture Expo in Perth Australia.

Here is what Nichols had to say about her meeting with JJ Abrams on the lot at Paramount:

He was very excited… like a young fan. He was like ‘I can’t believe I am sitting here with Uhura.’ And he said ‘You know, I would really like to find a valid reason for you to be in the movie.’ And, of course, I became – ooh! wow! I would love it. But how? And he says ‘that is the point, I don’t want it to be a gimmick, I don’t want to just be doing that to just do it.’ Leonard [Nimoy] is in it because the whole movie is about him, about Spock. …. He said ‘I’m just thinking’ – and he was telling me about the young actress who got the part to play the young Uhura, the pre-Uhura, Zoe Saldana – and he said ‘I think she could learn a lot from a lovely lady’, and he said: ‘You know what I’d love? I’d love for you to play her mother!’ And I said: ‘You know what I’d really like?…I’d like to play her grandmother!’ And he said ‘You’re too young to play her grandmother!’ and I said: ‘This is what grandmother’s look like !’

Nichols went on to say that Abrams wanted to make it happen, but due to the writers strike, which started soon after the meeting, it was not possible. Regardless, it was clear from her appearance in Perth that Nichols was charmed by Abrams and impressed with her visit to the set. She was also very impressed with the new Uhura, Zoe Saldana.

Nichols also touched on other areas and impressed the crowd of around 300 who came to see her, including a few in Starfleet uniform. One topical note she made was that she felt that the vision of the Star Trek’s IDIC was coming true with the recent American presidential campaign and seeing the candidacies of a woman and an African-American run for President. Nichols got a standing ovation at the end of her talk and had long queues of fans lining up to get photographs with her and autographs. The lines for Nichols were much larger than those for Jewel Staite (Kaylee on Firefly) and Kandyse McClure (Duala on BSG).


Nichols entertaining the crowd in Perth Australia
(photo via Sophie’s LJ blog)

VIDEO: Bonus Nichelle Down Under: Spock’s Bike Story
This weekend is actually the second Supanova weekend for Nichols in Australia – Last weekend she was in Sydney. Below is a video from that event (from YouTuber starrylizard), where Nichols talks about Leonard Nimoy’s bike on the Paramount lot back in the day:

 

TrekMovie.com would like to thank Greg Parker (our new ‘Australian correspondent’) for providing this convention report. If you are ever attending an event that TrekMovie is not at, we are always looking for ‘Trekkie Journalists’ to provide reports from around the world. For more on how you can help, click the tipline (right column) or visit the About page for more contact info.

 

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Camaro 09
June 29, 2008 12:51 pm

That would have been cool.

JeFF
June 29, 2008 12:52 pm

I *LOVE* Nichelle Nichols… what a wonderful lady with class.

Other Clark
June 29, 2008 12:54 pm

Grannie Uhura. lol

Too bad the Writer’s Strike happened and the whole idea was shelved…

…Or was it?! :-o

Thomas
June 29, 2008 1:02 pm

Nichelle mentioned JJ wanting a valid reason for her possible cameo. That statement is pretty consistent with what Bob Orci, JJ, et al. have been saying about Shatner. They don’t want to stick them in there just to be there, that there should be a good reason, simply beyond “Let’s have them because we can.”

Chris Doohan
June 29, 2008 1:06 pm

I’ve known Nichelle most of my life and I can say first hand that she is an incredible lady. She truly loves her fans and doesn’t have a pretentious bone in her body. She’s definitely my favorite TOS star, well, after my dad of course.

Daoud
June 29, 2008 1:08 pm

Nichelle would be great in a non-cameo, really. She doesn’t have to just play Uhura’s grandmother… she could easily play a non-related character, such as portraying a President of The Federation. (Hillary Ubama?).

Her voice is still so…. perfect.

MORN SPEAKS
June 29, 2008 1:31 pm

Part of me would have really liked to see Nichelle in the movie, but another part does not. It would be too gimicky, and she deserves a lot more than that. It makes sense that Nimoy is in it.

It’s like when I see Stan Lee in all these Marvel movies, it takes me out of the story.

david
June 29, 2008 1:35 pm

Nichelle has always come across as a deeply elegant, caring and humanistic lady – and I do mean lady. She exudes a charm and class whenever she speaks, and is always insightful and inspiring. The embodiment of everything star trek was trying to say about humanity

angry but i'll get over it
June 29, 2008 1:36 pm

and yet another reason to add to my reasons for being disgusted with modern hollywood and many (not all) of its writers. nevertheless, as it’s become popular with saying in terms of this movie “it would’ve been nice”….bless you nichelle nichols

The Vulcanista
June 29, 2008 1:43 pm

I just wish they’d give her more to do on “Heroes.”

Peace. Live long and prosper.
The Vulcanista }:-|

Demode
June 29, 2008 1:50 pm

I really don’t want to see her playing her own grandmother . I would rather Spock be shown in a scene with her in the past, or maybe watching a taped message she sent him years before on the computer. Something like that could be rather touching, if done well.

Rhett Coates
June 29, 2008 2:01 pm

The writer’s stike is long since over. Maybe they could whip up an “add-in” sequence with Nichelle and Zoe from “The United States Of Africa” – between now and May 2009…….. If “The Powers That Be” will allow it, if there’s time, if such a scene “WORKS” in the storyline, and/or if those involved have the time to do it.

Gary Seven
June 29, 2008 2:16 pm

In ST: Of Gods and Men, she really acts well. Nothing against Walter Koening, but Nichelle’s acting is impressive. I wish they gave her more to do in the original series, but she was good in the movies as well.

SirMartman
June 29, 2008 2:19 pm

When she first started talking about the “Star Trek” movie, she said that she had “seen the script” ,,so I thought it odd that JJ would show that to her so,,I wouldnt be surprised if she was,

Lord Garth, Formerly of Izar
June 29, 2008 2:27 pm

I almost won the Lottery only 4 numbers off

SirMartman
June 29, 2008 2:30 pm

what numbers,,,,

1 7 0 1 ??

:o )

Spocko
June 29, 2008 3:35 pm

“Deforest and umm…and umm…Kirk, what’s his name?”

Classic, love to hear stories from behind the scenes of TOS.

Vulcan927
June 29, 2008 3:37 pm

would have been an awesome bonus, she has such a great spirit, a very classy lady

CmdrR
June 29, 2008 3:54 pm

Nichelle in the movie would indeed have been a revaluation… or even a revelation.

June 29, 2008 4:01 pm

#4 “They don’t want to stick them in there just to be there, that there should be a good reason, simply beyond “Let’s have them because we can.”

Yes, that’s the great difference between Star Trek fan fiction and serious movie production. Fan fictions tend to throw in all the Trek icons they can get theirs hand on. This, in my opinion, is a big mess.

CmdrR
June 29, 2008 4:33 pm

20- Agreed. As much ‘fun’ as “Of Gods and Men” is, it is a mess of slop-together ‘what ifs’ without a good hard look at the overall product.

Xai
June 29, 2008 4:46 pm

20. Paulaner – June 29, 2008
. This, in my opinion, is a big mess.

Sorry, I don’t follow. How’s this a “big mess”?

Putting actors in just because the fans think they should doesn’t serve the story. That’s just for nostalgia.
I like NN and the rest, but for Trek to come back, it has to work at telling an exciting Trek-type story, not revisit the past.

Xai
June 29, 2008 5:08 pm

Clarifying #22…

“the past” meaning original TOS actors not already cast

GaryS
June 29, 2008 5:13 pm

Well, at least they tried.

BritishStyleGalactica
June 29, 2008 5:42 pm

NN cameo?
Bad idea.
As much as I love her it would be far too gimicky.
Nostalgia is good but lets move forward, eh?
(Even though we are going backwards of course)
Still love you NN.
XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Green-Blooded-Bastard
June 29, 2008 10:17 pm

She is such a well spoken and articulate woman. How hard would have it been to write a small 3-line segment in the movie where she gets to hold her infant granddaughter while the parents reveal to her they named the baby Uhura after her grandmother? Eh, I guess they have their reasons.

DEMODE
June 29, 2008 11:37 pm

One way could be of Uhura sending a message to Spock, that she recorded after Kirk’s death, to inform him of his passing. She, like Spock, wasn’t on the Entrprise-B. It could be that Spock was far away from Earth at the time of Kirk’s death, and Uhura was the one who sent him the news of Kirk’s death via a recorded message. I could see that being one message that Spock wouldn’t get rid of, and I could see him playing the message to himself years later. Definitely the easiest way I can think of getting her in.

If you read this Bob Orci, feel free to use that idea :)

Jordan
June 29, 2008 11:59 pm

I kinda like the idea of her playing a mother/grandmother. But NN is still too recognizable as Uhura…. so it would probably appear to be gimmicky. Abrams instincts are totally right — avoid all gimmicks. The film needs to stand on its own.

Admiral_Bumblebee
June 30, 2008 12:31 am

In the next movie, the crew of the Enterprise could age rapidly and the young actors are replaced by the olds. So we would have Nimoy, Shatner, Nichols, Koenig and Takei again. The only ones not affected by the aging are Scotty and Bones and they frantically try to find a way to cure their friends before they die…
Ok, we had this in a TOS-episode, but it would be cool nonetheless ;)

Iowagirl
June 30, 2008 12:40 am

Poor JJ – he’s been desperately trying to figure out how to put all these wonderful original actors in, and he just can’t make it happen. Botheration! Seems like he’s contending against himself – one man pitting himself against the forces of himself; Abrams against Abrams; the eternal conflict – a fight to the finish… Must be a really disconcerting, back-braking time for him. Don’t give in, JJ – if you pip yourself, you can always make up with paying for a nice dinner, a showy tour of the set, or maybe, if you’re really lucky, there will be another strike in the nick of time. There are always possibilities…

Mark Anton
June 30, 2008 8:15 am
As much as I admire and appreciate someone like Nichelle Nichols, I’m glad she won’t be appearing in the new movie. I don’t want Star Trek to end up looking like the Lost in Space Movie, where they had most of the original-show cast members appearing on screen, practically winking at the audience. It takes you away from what they supposed to be trying to do: convince you that the new actors really are the characters. I am ready to buy into this new Trek, and I am really looking forward to being convinced that this is real TOS Trek. At the same time, I am glad that Leonard Nimoy is in the film because it sounds like, from what I’ve read here and elsewhere, that is presence in the film will greatly enhance the story; in fact, it sounds like they would have had to shelve this script if he hadn’t agreed to do it. Now that’s the kind of casting I can appreciate: someone who has to be in the movie. Personally, I hope to see Nichelle and the rest of the original actors seated in an honored place at the movie’s premiere. And then we all can appreciate what’s happening on the screen from the audience’s perspective. Thank-you, J.J. Abrams, for resisting emotional impulses, and for making every effort to make the new Trek as believable as possible.It’s the new crew that is going to have to sell this story to the audience. Save nostalgia for the… Read more »
June 30, 2008 8:47 am
Whenever I start a comment with an apology, I realize that maybe my perspective is a bit skewed and I think of delicate ways to politely say what I need to. But I have to be honest. When I was a kid, watching TOS, the character of Uhura meant absolutely nothing to me. In fact in every episode I kind of hoped that something bad would happen to the character just to get her out of the way. She just seemed cluttery, and unnecessary. I think that Nichelle should have quit the show back in the day and I do not think it was wise for her to take Martin Luther Kennedy’s advice and whatnot. The dude was wrong. She called that one perfect – the character served no purpose. AS for Nichelle herself, I had the opportunity to meet her and Doohan in Fort Collins at the Foothills Fashion Mall in 1986. I found them both to be very nice and accomodating to us geeks who came out to see them. So please keep in mind I speak negatively only about the character of Uhura. Not of Nichelle Nichols. Chris Doohan, are you really 49? Did I read that right the other day? Time is creeping up on us, man. When you’re a kid, time seems to go on forever. Why can’t it be like that anymore? You’ve got 10 years on me, but dont feel bad… it’s hitting us all the same. Anyway, my overall thing is it’s… Read more »
Tom
June 30, 2008 9:01 am

I wonder if there was any thought of including all the remaining TOS actors. Figuring out the difficulties with the Shatner situation probably put a damper on that anyway.

Closettrekker
June 30, 2008 9:15 am

#28 and #31 hit it right on the head. Look, it’s enough that Abrams is directing a film which pays direct homage to the past work of these actors, or in Nichelle’s case–actress. It’s nice that he wishes there were a way to include some of them, but his instincts tell him that it would be distracting and gimmicky. Above all else, he wants to make a good movie that established fans and more importantly, more casual moviegoers, will buy into and enjoy. Leonard Nimoy’s Spock is important to the story, obviously, and I am thankful that the film will have such a direct link to the original cast. His is the only presence which makes any sense. I don’t care for the idea of having Nichelle Nichols appear as someone else. What’s the point? It’s nice that JJ was somewhat reverant in talking to all the original actors, but I’m glad he made the right decision in the end to limit their involvement to behind-the-scenes stuff.

June 30, 2008 9:41 am

I love the idea of cameos, paying respect to the original, but if you do this too much you’re just cluttering up the movie with fodder for us geeks. Better to tell a solid story with fewer nods to the hardcore fans.

'Beach
June 30, 2008 9:57 am

35
Hitch

It’s Dr. Martin Luther KING, not KENNEDY. You needn’t necessarily apologize for having an opinion, but at least check your facts first…

'Beach
June 30, 2008 9:58 am

34
It’s like he’s getting their blessing for recasting their iconic roles, Closet. But to just shoehorn them in because we fabid ranboys want them there is just bad filmmaking and poor storytelling…

Closettrekker
June 30, 2008 10:25 am

#37—Agreed.

June 30, 2008 10:37 am

Well Son of a ‘Beach™! You’re right-o. Me thinks that was a grate typo on my part. Me gets confused with the King and the Kennedy. Both was great racialists… both start with K, both got a bullet in the mullet. Too many things in common, the 60s and whatnot. I was thinking one thing and typed another.

I can spell and I can type, but I will work on the facts thing better. I am pretty sure it was 1986, the Foothills Fashion Mall in Fort Collins. I remember it vividly because Nichelle and Doohan were asked about TNG, which was in the early stages. They were polite but said that they didn’t support it. I remember very clearly that those were Doohan’s words. They were very honest that the reason was because they weren’t in it. I thought it was pretty classy and for that time, anyway, had decided that I would avoid TNG and be loyal to them.

Some lady in the crowd told them that she had named her daughter Nichelle because of the Uhura character. I think even she and Doohan thought that was a little batty. But of course they played very nice and congratulated her. Personally I was about ready to throw up. Then again, I was only 16 and drinking massive amouints of beer was fairly new to me.

Those are the facts.

=h=

Closettrekker
June 30, 2008 12:00 pm

#40—-“Both was great racialists”

Nevermind the Don King-esque vocabulary, but what exactly did Kennedy accomplish?

The truth is, he is one of the most overrated and least successful Presidents in the 20th Century. Let us not forget that, historically speaking, particularly when it came to Civil Rights legislation, Kennedy was far too weak to get anything done. It took the hard-nosed Washington bully, Lyndon Johnson, to coerce a somewhat reluctant Congress into passing that legislation. Even Kennedy’s most “triumphant” hour — the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba–is extremly overrated, particularly when you consider that the withdrawal and the return from the brink of nuclear war was only agreed upon after significant concessions to the Soviets on Kennedy’s part. Those concessions were, of course, kept secret for decades in order for the US—and Kennedy— to save face.

I’m sorry, but it just bugs me when people waive the JFK flag as if he was the second coming of Abe Lincoln (“Savage Curtain” shout out), just because the man was assasinated. The sad truth is, he was a poor to mediocre President, and an even worse naval officer.

Harry Ballz
June 30, 2008 12:20 pm

Let’s not start praising Lyndon Johnson………he was guilty of many terrible things!

June 30, 2008 12:26 pm

yo, Closettrekker. You know dem rules EAR, aiiight? The way that AP kicks it. IxNay on the OliticsPay, ArtnerPay. There are other places to speak of those things.

I wasn’t trying to stir politico. Me was just tellin why me used the wrong names. And Uhura always talks about dem blokes telling her to stay on the Star Trek season 2 when she wanted to quit. Like John Fitzgerald callin her up and saying, “yo! you is setting the example for the races so stay on dat lot” and all dat.

Speaking of names, I really have to be honest here again and tell you guys how many times as a child that I wanted to take the N in Nichelle and make that thing an M. It should be Michelle. That always really bothered me. It could have something to do with my overall distaste for the character of Uhura.;

I think I just learned something about myself. And you know, it’s never too late for her to get the *proper* spelling of her first name.

sean
June 30, 2008 12:28 pm

#40

Closettrekker, while I agree that history has turned Kennedy into something of a legend beyond his real abilities, what problem do you have with his military service? He fought to serve, despite being initially turned down, and earned numerous commendations and medals, not to mention saving the lives of his crew despite considerable injury to himself. In what way was he a poor naval officer?

June 30, 2008 12:40 pm

Look – everyone. Talking dem politics and dem politicians is against the rules and totally off-topic. And if an idiot like me knows that, you can be sure that AP himself is going to say da same.

Who’s with me on the changing the N to an M thing? aaiiiight?

sean
June 30, 2008 1:17 pm

Hitch,

I don’t think this is really politics, per se, I’m just curious what Closettrekker meant. I won’t be offended either way. It’s more a discussion of history than anything else.

Closettrekker
June 30, 2008 1:19 pm

#41—No argument there, but he IS the one who “extorted” the votes necessary to pass monumental civil rights legislation which Kennedy could not come close to getting passed. I’m only giving him credit for what casual history often forgets. LBJ was many things, and not all of them good, but he was responsible for that bit of good, and that much is indisputable. LBJ used the Kennedy assasination as well as “information’ about certain leading members of Congress to get that bill passed.

#43—His experience aboard the PT Boat very nearly ended in court-martial for his crew ending up in that situation to begin with. It was extensive influence on the part of his affluent father which turned a near disaster into commendation and the medals you spoke of. This was extensively covered in one of Chester Nimitz’ biographies, and that particular bit of insight comes from one of Admiral Nimitz’ aides whose name unfortunately escapes me. Nimitz was apparently somewhat resentful of the pressure to make Kennedy a hero, according to his aid, and himself deemed Kennedy to have been derilict as a commanding officer aboard the PT109.

Closettrekker
June 30, 2008 1:28 pm

BTW, when I say that LBJ “used the Kennedy assasination”, I am not referring to any “conspiracy theory”. I am simply saying that he publicly put Congress on the spot in a speech subsequent to the unfortunate events in Dallas, challenging them to pass the Civil Rights Act.

Harry Ballz
June 30, 2008 1:47 pm

Closettrekker, that’s too bad you corrected your previous post, I thought you had it right the first time!

Closettrekker
June 30, 2008 2:01 pm

Oh, Harry, you old scotch-drinkin’ conspiracy-theorist you!

Daoud
June 30, 2008 2:05 pm

Here I thought he was conflating MLK and *R*FK, not JFK.

#something Uhura is her last name, not her first name. That’s Nyota. So her parents would have been telling her grandmother (Nichelle in a cameo) that they named her Nyota after her.

Oh well… Roddenberry didn’t really check with a linguist, since ‘uhuru’ means freedom, and “Uhura” is GR’s feminization attempt. He should have left it at Uhuru….

In any event… Nyota “enn-yoh-tuh” starts with N, just like Nichelle.

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