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Robin Curtis Talks Spock Love Child & Romulan Saavik January 5, 2012

by TrekMovie.com Staff , Filed under: Feature Films (TMP-NEM),History , trackback

The Vulcan character of Saavik from the 1980s Star Trek movies has been the subject much fan discussion over the years. And in a new interview Robin Curtis, the second actress to play the part, discusses some of these issues including the never-fulfilled Spock/Saavik love child storyline and the potential Romulan heritage of the character.

 

Robin Curtis talks about  Saavik pregnancy cut from Star Trek IV 

After Kirstie Alley declined to return to the role of the Vulcan Saavik for Star Trek III, director Leonard Nimoy picked Robin Curtis to fill the role. Curtis was also brought back as Saavik for Star Trek IV, but just a brief cameo. In a new interview with the official Star Trek site, the actress talks about coming back and what might have been:

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.

Specifically on the issue of Saavik being pregnant (with Spock’s child), Curtis added:

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.


Curtis as Saavik with Leonard Nimoy’s Spock in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home"

In past interviews producer Harve Bennett says it was director Leonard Nimoy’s decision to remove discussion of Saavik’s pregnency because he was "very uncomfortable" with it. Nimoy has also said that the decision to limit Saavik’s role in the film (by leaving her on Vulcan) was to simplify the film as she would be "extraneous on this trip."

Curtis also weighed in on the often-discussed topic that Saavik was actually half-Romulan, saying:

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.

Ironically, Curtis did get a chance to play a Romulan in the two-part Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Gambit" in 1993. 


Curtis as Romulan Tellera with Patrick Stewart as Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation"

Read more from Curtis in the full interview: Part 1 & Part 2.

 

Comments

1. allister gourlay - January 5, 2012

Met her in 1990 at a UK convention what lovely lady!

2. rm10019 - January 5, 2012

I agree, great lady and a welcome addition to Trek

3. Buzz Cagney - January 5, 2012

A Spock romance with another crew member would have been such a bad idea. And yes I do get the irony of what i’m sayong there.

I really liked Robin as Saavik. In fact I also like Kirstie as Saavik. Do I have a favourite in the role? Thats a tough choice. I can’t decide.

4. Buzz Cagney - January 5, 2012

Yes I can, its Robin. The scene’s she played with a rapidly aging youth Spock were excellent.

5. DP McGuire - January 5, 2012

Robin was great but I like Kirstie better.

6. John from Cincinnati - January 5, 2012

I don’t know about a Spock/Saavik romance.

But I sure would love to have a romance with Robin Curtis!

7. Caesar - January 5, 2012

If Nimoy was uncomfortable with it, I’m fine with them removing it. Nobody’s ever had a better handle on Spock than he did.

8. crazydaystrom - January 5, 2012

#1-
I met and spoke with her in the early 90′s as well, here in South Carolina. I made a joke about her Eggo commercial. She gave me (what seemed to be) a sincere laugh in response and immediately fell in love with me……or vice versa; hard to remember which, that was a long time ago.

But seriously, she’s a sweet, smart and talented lady.

9. Basement Blogger - January 5, 2012

Hey are we sure she’s a real Romulan in “The Gambit?” She’s able to use the Vulcan weapon and according to Wikipedia, she’s a Vulcan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gambit_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)

10. Basement Blogger - January 5, 2012

I agree that Robin is a lovely woman. I’ve always liked the Saavik character. Could we put the Saavik character in the next Star Trek movie? How about as Kirk’s love interest? I vote Olivia Wilde (Cowboys and Aliens),

11. VZX - January 5, 2012

I liked the Curtis Savvik better than the Alley one, but was never a fan of her curly hair. Not a big deal, I know, but it didn’t look Vulcan enough for me.

12. Jack - January 5, 2012

Well, the critics talked about her wooden, lackluster performance as Saavik — it would be intriguing if she”d actually been directed to play it that way. She was a Vulcan (a Vulcan terrorist, whose cover was being Romulan) in the Gambit, no? Don”t remember it well.

13. Jack - January 5, 2012

in Gambit. Not in the Gambit.

Wow, would have been interesting to see her as Alexander’s mom.

14. SciFiGuy - January 5, 2012

Sorry, no offense to Robin, but Kirstie Alley owned that role. Plus, back then — Kirstie Alley was ssssssmokin HOT!! I got within a few feet of her at The Ultimate Fantasy in Houston in 1982. I’m sure I was drooling…lol!!

15. Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire - January 5, 2012

Robin Curtis did a great job in trek 3. But Kirsty Alley was just Smoking Hot. I wish she would have been there for Trek 3 and 4 and 5 and 6. been great for her in Trek 6. She could have kicked Valeris A$$. Lol.

16. Keachick - rose pinenut - January 5, 2012

I preferred Robin Curtis as Saavik. Kirstey Alley was good, but Robin Curtis nailed the Saavik character.

#10 – At this point, Saavik would have been too young to be a Kirk love interest, that is, if she survived Vulcan’s destruction. Hope she did.

Re: Olivia Wilde playing Kirk’s love interest – well, that could be a little deja vu for Olivia and Chris Pine. Olivia Wilde plays Hanna in Welcome to People and she is the girlfriend of Sam (Chris Pine).

17. DavidJ - January 5, 2012

I have to agree with Nimoy on that one– the Spock/Saavik love child thing always seemed like a REALLY stupid and bizarre idea to me.

As for Curtis vs Alley, I think Curtis was technically the better Saavik… but Alley originated the role and should have been the one to continue it (even if she doesn’t really do much in TWOK except pout and look sexy).

18. N - January 5, 2012

Okay so, that was cut, season 5 of ENT would have the Romulan War prelude, Future Guy being a Romulan and T’Pol being half-Romulan but that was cancelled, then JJ goes and destroys Romulus…

Nobody loves Romulans.

19. They call me Stasiu - January 5, 2012

I thought I was the only one, but I’m sure I was among the many fans at the con mentioned at the interview’s start who stated that Miss Curtis was their first Saavik.
And darned proud of it!

20. Matthew M - January 5, 2012

I have always been a Robin Curtis/Saavik fan.
VZX –
“I liked the Curtis Savvik better than the Alley one, but was never a fan of her curly hair. Not a big deal, I know, but it didn’t look Vulcan enough for me.”
Did you even notice that Kirstie Alley’s Saavik had big round human eye brows not the up-swept Vulcan/Romulan ones? Never liked her portrayal because of that – just looked like a human with deformed ears.
Obviously a child did happen whether it was Spock/Saavik or Spock/someone else as referenced by Sarek’s wife ‘Perrin’ in STNG “Unification”. It goes by so fast but indicates Spock put his affairs in order providing for his ‘family’(Saavik and child?) upon leaving for Romulus. I always accepted that as the case. Little hints like this and in ST4TVH, Saavik stands close to Spock’s mother Amanda as the Bird of prey lifts off.
Just my own personal opinion. Don’t really know what the non-canon novels say but I have heard that different authors tell different stories. That’s why they can’t be considered ‘canon’ in the Star Trek universe. My version is as good as anyones.

21. N - January 5, 2012

#20 That’s what I like about Trek, anyone can write a fanfic based off the shows/films and it’s as canon as any other story out there.

22. MJ - January 5, 2012

I preferred her interpretation of Savvik to Kritie Alley’s. Curtis portrayed to real Vulcan, not a sex-upped hyper-Vulcan. And she nailed the role in Trek 3.

Thanks Robin! Time has shown that it is better to be the best versus winning a popularity contest with morons voting.

23. TrekMadeMeWonder - January 5, 2012

“Specifically on the issue of Saavik being pregnant (with Spock’s child), Curtis added”

Are you sure that this is correct? Perhaps it was David’s and Saavik’s love child.

24. Jonboc - January 5, 2012

Always thought she was a bad actress until I saw her in other things. I have to lay all the blame on Leonard’s direction. Curtis’ delivery was stereotypically Vulcan, played broadly and very robotic….not with the subtle touches given by others such as Mark Lenard and, of course, Nimoy himself. Funny that Nimoy himself is to blame. Oh well, Can’t win ‘em all. I much prefer Kirstie Alley’s interpretation of the character.

25. TrekMadeMeWonder - January 5, 2012

Except that Kirstie had no idea what she was doing as far as the character goes. Kirstie played it more like a Romulan.

26. MikeTen - January 5, 2012

TNG episode Gambit should have had the Robin Curtis character be Saavik instead of Tellera since Vulcans have long lives and Spock was still around. It would have been a nice tie in to TOS.

27. Jack - January 5, 2012

22. Whoa, preferring Alley’s performance automatically makes one a moron?

I didn’t think it was sexed up at all. Okay, not that much. Of the Alley, Curtis and Cattrall interpretations (heck, Valeris was, arguably, a Saavik stand-in), I still like Alley. (Catrall comes in second). Even without the Romulan backstory (the line was cut, alas), I like Alley’s unsteadiness and confusion as a very, very young Vulcan surrounded by alien humans. I’d argue that it kind of paved the way for the writing of the very young Spock in Trek 09.

Curtis’ Saavik was written as, or at least directed to be, a completely different character. She wasn’t a brand-new cadet and, heck, there wasn’t much there there except for a few recycled “so human” lines. Same goes with David in the flick. The Grissom/Genesis planet stuff was the weakest in the film. They were all, with Kruge, given the, “oh yeah, we have these charcters who have nothing to do with our heroes and gotta give them something to do” treatment. The movie bought back the late-TOS, slightly campy feel and that’s both a strength and a weakness. The characters aren’t quite adults wih complex personal lives in his thing — which you could still buy in Trek II.

It’s a movie of moments. And, don’t get me wrong, it did a fantastic job of portraying the Trek universe… but it also started feeling a lot more comic-book/cartooney here…

28. Jack - January 5, 2012

23. Of course. Spock was in heat and Saavik, er, helped him out. Bonding taken quite literally.

I wasn’t a fan of this and I think t was wise to keep it entirely speculative.

29. MC1 Doug - January 5, 2012

I preferred Ms. Curtis’ performance as well. Her interpretation was far more Vulcan that Alley’s. I know that Mr. Meyers preferred Kirstie, but in my eyes, Curtis was Saavik.

I met her at her first “Star Trek” convention appearance. She was fun. As she stood facing the audience she told us she was knowledge of TREK was rather limited, and then threatened anyone in the audience with a rolled up tube sock if they asked her a “Star Trek question” since she was relatively new to the franchise. Naturally, the very first fan took her up on that one and asked her a Vulcan question. She lobbed the sock at him, hitting him and it bounced off of him. The audience roared with laughter!

She also endeared us in audience, especially me, with the fact that she said she never forgets a person and their name. Two days after I had asked her a question, she saw me as we both were wandering the dealers room. She saw me and said, “hi Doug, how are you doing today?”

I certainly felt special that day!

30. The Unknown Poster - January 5, 2012

If I recall, Valeris was, at one point, meant to be Saavik. While I can see people getting angry at that especially with her being a traitor. But I liked the idea. Would have made it far more emotional.

31. Red Dead Ryan - January 5, 2012

I too, thought Robin Curtis was better than Kirstie Alley. I’ve never been impressed with Alley’s “acting”. I’ve seen a bunch of movies she was in, as well as “Cheers” and she’s acted like herself everytime.

Also, in TNG, Robin Curtis played a Vulcan disguised as a Romulan. She was good in that episode too.

32. Odkin - January 5, 2012

Nice enough lady, but her singsong “Admiral, David is dead” was the worst line reading in the whole movie series.

It would have been SO much better had Saavik been in ST6 instead of the disposable Valeris. What happened with the original plan?

33. sean - January 5, 2012

I’m absolutely baffled that anyone could prefer Curtis to Alley. Her version of Saavik was so bland and uninteresting compared to Kirstie. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nimoy cut her out of Star Trek IV more for her performance in III than story issues.

As far as anyone confused about the pregnancy, I think it was pretty obvious Spock and Saavik have sex in Trek III. How else did she ‘assist’ Spock in his Pon Farr? We know it’s either fight or f**k, so to speak, and they sure didn’t look like they were getting ready to fight.

34. Locke for President - January 5, 2012

- In the TNG episode, it was revealed at the end that she was a Vulcan pretending to be a Romulan.

- Her long, curly hair in ST III kind of threw me, as Kirstie Alley had her hair up in ST II. Keep in mind that back then you saw the movies years apart in the movie theater. If they hadn’t changed the hair, I might not have even noticed that it was a different actress at first. It wasn’t until later viewing on video where I noticed that Saavik had her hair down in the funeral scene at the end of ST II. It probably would have been a better choice to keep the hairstyle the same between the movies.

- I’m not going to fault her acting in ST III, because she was playing a Vulcan for darned sake! How can you call someone’s acting wooden, playing a character who is Vulcan and is supposed to be wooden?? Wouldn’t that actually be considered GOOD acting?

- She’s aged better than Kirstie Alley has.

– Kirstie’s big break was Cheers. Without that gig, who knows if her career would have gone anywhere or not.

– I agree that there wouldn’t have been anything for the Saavik character to do in ST IV. It was a wise choice to ditch her like they did, for story purposes. What would she have done if she had gone with them? Stare at screens on the ship and give a couple of lines here and there? All it would have done is take lines away from Sulu, Uhura and Chekov. Plus she had nothing to do with stealing the ship and had no reason to go back to stand trial.

- In hindsight, it might have been better if she had also died on the Planet Genesis at the end of III. Maybe she could have saved Spock from falling into a pit, but ending up falling in herself.

35. Anny - January 5, 2012

I prefer Curtis/Saavik and fully Vulcan. I wouldn’t like to see a child between Spock and Saavik either!

Live long and Prosper!

36. Drake1701 - January 5, 2012

I disagree- to have Saavik in ST6 would have betrayed her character.
As for Robin she is such a nice person- truly appreciates the fans- met her at a con once.

37. BeatleJWOL - January 5, 2012

Anybody else a fan of the idea of useng “Kirstey Alley’d” to refer to an actor or actress that bails on reprising a role because of money “concerns”?

I know I am. :D

38. Khan was Framed! - January 5, 2012

Would have been cooler if Saavik had David’s baby; Kirk’s half-Vulcan grandson.
Then in part 5, Sybok could have taken Saavik & her son hostage & it would have been way more meaningful.
And then finally in part 6, we have Saavik instead of Valeris, so when she betrays Spock & the Federation, it could have led to a much bigger emotional impact.
Ah, what could have been.

39. Vultan - January 5, 2012

It’s interesting that Alley bailed on the Savvik role, then ended up getting her big break in “Cheers” because of… Shelley Long bailing from that show.

40. Harry Ballz - January 5, 2012

Robin Curtis is now a realtor in ( I think) New York state.

Funny how many ex-actors go into real estate sales!

41. Jack - January 6, 2012

34. But that’s just it — I don’t think Vulcans need to be wooden. Nimoy, Lenard, heck, even Celia Lovsky (sp?) (and, arguably, T’Pring and Stonn) weren’t wooden. Neither was Alley.

Nimoy’s Spock was never a monotone robot. By TNG and after (until Quinto), all Vulcans had that bad wig and that souless delivery. The Enterprise Vulcans may be a partial exception.

Striving not to be governed by emotion doesn’t have to mean boring and flat.

Trek 09 got the Vulcans right, I’d argue.

38. That was Meyer’s original plan for Trek VI — Saavik as the conspirator. Somebody (Roddenberry?) was against it? I do not recall.

42. Jack - January 6, 2012

30. Oh, sorry. You’d already said the Saavik/Valeris thing.

Wasn’t Cattrall originally wanted (by Meyer) to play Saavik in Trek II?

43. Captain Gorn - January 6, 2012

I always preferred Robin Curtis. Never liked Kirstie Alley as Saavik.

44. Father Robert Lyons - January 6, 2012

Robin Curtis has always been my preferred Saavik. Curly hair aside, which I agree is a bit odd for a Vulcan, I always saw her (and will continue to see her) as a Vulcan/Romulan hybrid who was striving to reflect her mentor. This accounts, at least for me, to what a previous poster called her ‘sing song’ delivery at the time of David’s death in Trek III.

The novelization of Trek III certinaly puts out there that Saavik and David had a relationship after they left the Enterprise, so Saavik carrying David’s child could have been a great concept… I do tend to agree that carrying Spock’s pon-faar child would have done a degree of disservice to the dignity of the Spock character from a Vulcan perspective, perhaps turning him into much more of an outcast. Of course, I was always a bit suprised that he didn’t become something of an outcast among Vulcans in the wake of the unorthodox rejoining of his katra to his body at the end of TSFS.

All that being said, I can’t point to any consistent feel for the Vulcans over the course of the Star Trek saga… they have varied, from arrogant to isolated to, at times, in your face. I do agree that nuTrek seems (on the basis of 2 hours of screen time – admittedly not much of a sample) to have a strong feel for Vulcans that I appreciate.

Rob+

45. Richard Eckman - January 6, 2012

It’s my understanding that the primary reason Alley didn’t return as Saavik was because after the success of TWOK, when she was asked to reprise the role, she demanded a salary equal to or greater than DeForest Kelley’s! Considering that Harve Bennett and Nick Meyer had delivered ST II for such a small budget (and considering Paramount’s trepidation on taking a chance on Nimoy as a first-time director and handing him a production budget that was no bigger than the previous film’s), the decision was made to look for a different actress to play Saavik.

As to Curtis’ allegedly lackluster acting, I think the “blame” (if you want to call it that) must go to Nimoy as the director. I specfically recall reading an interview with Curtis not long after the film’s release in which she said she wanted to in some way reflect Saavik’s Romulan side (the deleted snippet in which Spock and Kirk discuss Saavik’s Romulan heritage in TWOK can be found on YouTube). However, she said that Nimoy kept instructing her to play the part “…drier, more Vulcan.”

And, lastly, the Valeris character in ST VI really was intended to be Saavik! Nick Meyer’s original story had a much more tragic element in it, in that Saavik also harbored bitter feelings toward the Klingons (having some form of survivor’s guilt at David sacrificing himself to save her in ST III), as well as a form of hero worship of Kirk to the point of taking his hatred of Klingons misinterpreting it. It made her betrayal much more of a blow to Kirk and Spock – for Spock, feeling betrayed that Saavik would take such a dark path, feeling a failure as her mentor, and for Kirk, massive guilt at having failed as a role model for the formerly promising young officer and seeing the possible negative effects of his own leadership. It was meant to be an emotional punch to the gut for the crew. But it was Roddenberry who ultimately vetoed the idea, declaring that Saavik had achieved “beloved character status” among Trek fandom. It infuriated Meyer, who said, “I created the character of Saavik, not Roddenberry!”. But in the end, Roddenberry won out and thus we got Valeris.

46. Do You Wanna Dance - January 6, 2012

In my opinion, Robin Curtis played Saavik like a true Vulcan, so her performance is spot on and how I expected it to be: devoid of emotion.

When I saw Kirstie show emotion, especially during the funeral of Spock, I was taken back a bit.

To me, Robin was the hottest Vulcan to appear on screen before T’Pol showed up in Enterprise.

47. Jonboc - January 6, 2012

#41. “Striving not to be governed by emotion doesn’t have to mean boring and flat.”

Exactly. Contrary to what many actors, including Curtis, post TOS, have delivered, Vulcans are not one- note robots.

48. Rykerw1701 - January 6, 2012

While I have a fondness for Robin Curtis, as she and I both went to the same small college, I also know I once heard Nimoy say at a convention that they didn’t think she would be right as Saavik in ST 6, so rather than recast the role again, they made it a new character. Nimoy’s comment was memorable because it was pretty straight forward and honest, which often isn’t the case in Hollywood. The feeling I had, based on what he said and how he said it, is that he just wasn’t crazy about her portrayal of the character.

49. Damian - January 6, 2012

Re; Alley vs Curtis, I always felt they both contributed something to the character and I really don’t have a preference. Yes, the novels did latch on to a dual Vulcan-Romulan heritage and in the Vulcan’s Soul Trilogy her and Spock were married (the later books involving Spock–while not contradicting it outright, seemed to have dropped it-though the Watraii incident has been brought up from time to time).

45–It was interesting the Roddenberry vetoed an idea about a character he had not created. I do tend to agree with Roddenberry in this case though. Saavik, while intense at times, would not betray Kirk and Spock, IMHO.

This was one area Roddenberry seemed to have control over in Star Trek (even in his reduced role as Executive Consultant). While he had no real story or production control, he did seem to have veto power over character development until the end.

50. Horatio - January 6, 2012

I always thought the Spock/Saavik love child was a missed opportunity. Having thought it over through the years and reading now that Nimoy was uncomfortable with it I can see why. Saavik relieving teen Spock of his Pon Far needs – though possibly biologically necessary – could come across a bit, um, pedophilic. Good call by Leonard Nimoy.

51. Richard Eckman - January 6, 2012

I always felt ambivalent at best about Spock’s marriage to Saavik in the novels. While they handled it very nicely (and treated both characters with respect and dignity), I think it might’ve been best to have Spock marry a different person.

I recall really enjoying the novel “The Pandora Principle”. It details in flashbacks how Spock resuced Saavik from Hellguard as a little girl, brought her to Vulcan, and essentially raised has a sort of surrogate father/uncle figure. It added tremendous depth and poignance to their relationship. So, to have them marry later, given their previous history, seems rather… Creepy? Don’t get me wrong – I LOVED “Vulcan’s Heart”, thought it was a great book. It’s just difficult for me to reconcile the two different facets of their relationship.

Personally, I would have loved to have seen Saavik hook up with David (as she did in the ST III novelization). That would have been a love child that I think would have added some very interesting twists to the TREK universe.

52. Locke for President - January 6, 2012

#41

- Keep in mind that Spock is half human, so it isn’t a fair comparison if Saavik was supposed to be fully Vulcan (the half-Romulan angle wasn’t on screen, so I consider that speculative). Spock being half human, having a human mother, working with humans — he would of course not be as wooden as a stereotypical Vulcan. His human side would on occasion show through.

- How many pure Vulcans had we seen prior to the motion pictures? Umm, the only one I can think of was Sarek in one TV episode. It’s not fair to compare the portrayal of this character with the hindsight of seeing countless other Vulcans AFTER those movies. At the time this movie was made, there weren’t too many Vulcan performances to compare to, right? Was there a Vulcan-Actiing Bible out there in 1984 on how to play a Vulcan, lol?

- Furthermore, Spock in TMP was very wooden and flat. Bad acting? Or Nimoy playing a Vulcan who was trying to purge all emotion? That’s open to interpretation.

- Lastly, Saavik’s time on screen is not large, she’s a minor character in that movie, and I wouldn’t criticize the performance based on a few lines of dialog in a sci-fi movie made in the early 80′s on a cheap budget. From a television producer (watch the acting in the Six Million Dollar Man) and a first-time director who narrated In Search Of prior to this project. We’re not talking a project of Shakespearean levels here!

53. Horatio - January 6, 2012

#52 Re: Furthermore, Spock in TMP was very wooden and flat. Bad acting? Or Nimoy playing a Vulcan who was trying to purge all emotion? That’s open to interpretation

Spock was suppose to be very wooden and flat. That was basically the whole point of the movie. He was trying to rid himself of every shred of emotion and wasn’t able to do it. His answers didn’t lie in the Kohlinar but with V’ger. Spock and V’ger were the whole point of the movie…. knowledge and logic are not enough. They both learned to embrace – the human part of them both.

Vulcans were turned into cardboard caricatures from TNG onward (somewhat redeemed in Enterprise and I remember a great performance by an actor in a Voyager Tuvok flashback episode) however Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock in TMP doesn’t deserve to be included in the reasons why Vulcans were screwed up during the Berman era.

54. Jonboc - January 6, 2012

#52. ” At the time this movie was made, there weren’t too many Vulcan performances to compare to, right?”

Which is more the pity. The only benchmark WAS Nimoy and Mark Lenard. That is exactly what should have been strived for…moreso, the representations of Mark Lenard and the actress who portrayed T’pau. These were the blueprints to be followed…yet they have been abandoned by so many…including, yes, even Nimoy in The first movie as well as parts of the second…which give much credence to the idea that Curtis’ wooden robotic performance was at the behest of the director.

55. The Unknown Poster - January 6, 2012

The more its discussed the more I wish they had gone with Saavik in VI. The fast she would “never betray Kirk & Spock” is exactly why they should have done it. What an emotional punch to the groin that would have been.

Spock knocking the phaser out of her hand would have been that much more powerful had it been Saavik.

And it would have made all the “racial” remarks by the Enterprise crew mean more to the story when you consider the character arc was they all realised their own prejudices and opened themselves up to peace with the Klingons whereas Saavic (or Valeris is it turned out to be) was the same way except never came around to accept them.

And it makes sense. Using logic and influenced by the two people she idolized, plus her own hatred for those that killed David, it made perfect sense for her to conspire against peace.

Wish they had done it. She would have been a great character to have re-visited in TNG also.

56. sean - January 6, 2012

I think Curtis’ portrayal laid the unfortunate foundation for future Vulcans, where they were portrayed as either blank slates or permanently irritated. Nimoy & Lenard knew that Vulcans weren’t devoid of emotions, but rather that their emotions were simply repressed, bubbling just under the surface. It wasn’t about acting ‘wooden’ or ‘stiff’. Re-watch TOS and you’ll see what I’m referring to. Even Stonn, T’Pau and T’Pring are emotional; it’s just very subtle. Even Doctor Selar from TNG was closer to the original depiction of Vulcans than subsequent attempts (Tuvok, T’pol).

57. Keachick - rose pinenut - January 6, 2012

Robin Curtis played Saavik with what I see as being calm, detached and appearing somewhat inscrutable at times. I thought her line, “David is dead” and the delivery of it made Kirk’s reaction to the enormity of what she had just told him even more poignant. Her delivery of “David is dead” was in juxtaposition to what had happened.

The scenes dealing with David’s attempt to save Saavik, his death, the way Saavik told Kirk and how Kirk reacted to the news were some of the most powerful scenes in the Star Trek franchise. It was not an occasion for her to “fall apart”. It was just her and the young Spock from then on…

58. Pauln6 - January 6, 2012

Saavik being an angry half Romulan per the novels and comics has such a huge amount of character potential. I wonder to what extent her character was neutered to avoid overshadowing the other establishd characters.

I prefer Alley’s Saavik because she was allowed to bring in the additional emotional element. Having seen Curtis’ other performances, she would have been more than capable of carrying seething emotions while playing a Vulcan. It would have made her a more popular character too. Her performance would have been more like T’Pol I think. I feel for the actress to have such a potentially great role nixed by narrow-minded writers and directors who preferred the status quo.

59. Mike Poteet - January 6, 2012

I love this discussion! Shameless plug alert, this abandoned plotline was the genesis (ha!) of my short story in “Strange New Worlds II,” still available as an ebook — http://www.amazon.com/Strange-New-Worlds-II-ebook/dp/B003YCOSGS/ref=kinw_dp_ke?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2 — makes a great gift!

Have to say, though, even though the plot strand came from Robin Curtis’ tenure in the role, I had Kirstie Alley’s look and voice in mind all the time as I wrote!

60. Lore-ie - January 6, 2012

Curtis had the Vulcan eyebrows. Why did Alleys Saavik have human arched eyebrows? She is the only Vulcan to not have the Vulcan brow.

61. Robofuzz - January 6, 2012

Kirstie Alley will always be Saavik for me. I never ever liked Robin in the role and she felt like a poor replacement. Her performance was just not convincing. My understanding is that Saavik was supposed to be one of the conspirators in Star Trek VI and that it was changed to be Valeris. I thought it would have been much more interesting to have Saavik betray the Federation and Spock.

62. rm10019 - January 6, 2012

Both actresses were great in the role. Two different directors and interpretations. Not sure why Kirstie had human looking eyebrows, always was odd, but she was great too.

I wish the Valeris character had stayed Saavik but what can ya do. I think this was the very last act Rodenberry did. In his now infamous meeting with Meyer, that Meyer admits to not handling well. The one concession he gave was to change Saavik to Valeris as to not taint the original character.

63. Robogeek - January 6, 2012

Fascinating.

64. Demode - January 6, 2012

I know why Kristie Alley didn’t come back, but I never understood why they recast the role of Saavik with another actress. Instead of the character being Saavik 2.0, why didn’t they just have Robin Curtis play a new female Vulcan character, who was serving onboard the USS Grissom? She didn’t have to be Saavik. In fact, it would have made more sense to the story if she wasn’t Saavik, because Saavik was an Enterprise officer. They could have just said she was working on another part of the ship.

65. Jack - January 6, 2012

52. The half-Romulan line was cut from the scene when Kirk and Spock walk from the simulator. But, yeah. Sure, it can be speculative. But nobody called her a Vulcan, either. Personally, I found her backstory, as told in the novelization, fascinating.

No “real” Vulcans before TMP: Well, we saw Spock for three years (and, yep, Sarek, T’Pau, T’Pring, Stonn). Okay, there was Sonak (?) in TMP, who had, I think, two mildly-imperious-sounding lines (and sort of looked like he was in Vulcan Halloween make-up)… so, yeah, not much to go on there.

I don’t think Spock was flat or wooden in TMP — he was damaged. Yep, he was trying to purge all emotions and all connections, but Nimoy didn’t play him as a robot. There was still a lot going on under the surface, I’d argue.

Personally, I think (speculative, yes) that the half-human thing gets misread (by Trek characters and by some of us) — the whole point is that it doesn’t have to mean he’s any more emotional (say, genetically — God, there’d be some godawful Voyager scene that would show them analyzing Spocks DNA compared to pure Vulcan DNA and blabbering about his dopamine levels and midichlorian count), but it means he has a lot of social/racist baggage to deal with (his own and everyone else’s). It’s about perception — he’s always believed he had to compensate for this human handicap. I also like to think the differences are as much cultural as they are biological (he grew up in a house with a wacky Alien mom).

Again. Stoic doesn’t have to be boring, And Lenard was more expressive, while remaining Vulcan, I’d argue, than even Spock at times (although Nimoy’s Spock varied a lot over the course of the series). Okay, maybe not, but he was very public in showing affection for his human wife. No shame there (of course, it was his choice and not something he was born into).

I thought Curtis was miscast. Maybe wiser than trying to get someone who looked and acted like Alley, She also seemed too old for a cadet at the time (I know, I know… Alley was older). And, regarding the direction, well, this is an actor’s version of the story. Did he say “be a robot?” So maybe he did say the character’s Vulcan, which she is. She also said he whispered in her ear before her final scene with Spock something along the lines of, imagine you ran into an old lover on the streets of New York and he didn’t recognize you…” So, he wasn’t having her be emotionless. Heck, Alley’s Saavik was pretty darned Vulcan (measured, calm, but confused and mildly frustrated when appropriate). She certainly wasn’t a crazy ball of sex and emotion. Alley’s performance worked even without the Romulan stuff — she’s a green cadet, out of her element, and really doesn’t understand why humans behave the way they do. She played it well — it wasn’t just that standard, condescending “humans are so emotional” stuff played with the clarinet of humor at the end of most episodes — she was truly baffled. And Alley’s Saavik had screen presence… so did Cattrall’s Valeris.

But a lot of it’s due to the script — Saavik and David could be anybody, really — their function is to find Spock, provide exposition, get in trouble and get semi-rescued. There seemed to be a lot more going on for each in the previous film, even though each probably had less screen time.

Heck, Data’s an android incapable of emotion, and he certainly was never played as wooden.

But, yeah, I agree with everybody here who wasn’t thrilled with the TNG and beyond Vulcans (heck, or, even, Romulans). They were either cartoony and one-note, or else just plain boring. But the same could be said for the bulk of the characters in the later series.

I guess it’s personal — I always thought her Saavik really seemed like an entirely different character.

And, yeah. Saavik instead of Valeris would have been interesting. I always felt like Valeris came off like a villain rather than as a character trying to do the right thing — that it wasn’t really clear, except for a line or two of dialogue, that she really believed that this alliance would destroy the federation. Of course, she also killed a couple of guys, so that”s pretty villainous. The racism-elements were kind of over-emphasized (Cartright was pretty racist for a Starfleet officer), I thought, and that made it pretty black-and-white instead of a real moral dilemma (plus, we knew the TNG-era outcome). But, whatever, it was good for the allegory.

66. MJ - January 6, 2012

If you just want to talk about pleasurable entertainment experiences in a Trek movie, then sure, Alley and Katrell played ‘entertaining” Vulcans — basically hot actresses putting on pointed ears, and showing more emotion than we ever generally saw in the half-human Spock.

However, if we are to consider a performance of what a real alien, logical, emotionless Vulcan would be, then Curtiss’s performance wins, hands down. This is the best performance of a Vulcan since Nimoy. When she said, “David is dead,” I got shivers and thought to myself: “damn, that is how a real Vulcan would respond…a real alien response.”

67. Red Dead Ryan - January 6, 2012

#60.

For the first two seasons of “Enterprise”, T’Pol had human eyebrows. It wasn’t until the third that she had Vulcan ones.

#66.

Yes, I liked how Robin Curtis delivered the “David is dead” line. Stoic, but with a tiny hint of shock that she obviously couldn’t entirely conceal.

68. sean - January 6, 2012

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I think what it comes down to is the fact that Leonard Nimoy, Kirstie Alley, and even Kim Catrall felt like they were portraying a unique *character*. Curtis felt like she was trying to portray *a Vulcan*. There’s a stilted nature to her performance that just sits uncomfortably with me. It’s almost a pantomime of a Vulcan. Some of that might very well have been the direction she was given, but as I mentioned above, it’s interesting to note that Nimoy essentially wrote her out of Trek IV. It’s entirely possible he didn’t like her performance much, either.

69. Red Shirt Diaries - January 6, 2012

Kristie Alley and Kim Catrall played emotive and “hot” female Vulcans. These are the type of Vulcans George Lucas would want in his Star Trek movie, were he ever given the helm (uck!).

By contrast, Robin Curtis gave us the most accurate full blooded Vulcan we have ever seen in Trek. She was hard-ass logical to a fault. That is what most Vulcans are like.

70. Don - January 7, 2012

Well, the way I see it the characters were meant to be replacements for Spock. The Vulcan in TMP was a replacement for Spock on the Bridge. Saavik was there as a transition to replace Spock. If Spock was dead a Vulcan needed to replace him. When Nimoy decided to continue playing Spock the replacement had to go. It was better to leave Saavik on Vulcan than to kill her off.

71. Spock/Uhura Fan - January 7, 2012

All I know is that if Spock has a child in THIS timeline, it had better be with Uhura! ;-)

72. MJ - January 7, 2012

I think the issue here is that a lot of Trek fans find cute partially human-acting portrayals of Vulcan females more entertaining versus more realistic portrayals of classic female Vulcan’s who are not as emotive or sexy. Some posters here used words like “screen presence,” but what I really think this comes down to is that were entertained more by Savvik portrayed by Alley.

I’ll take realism and credible alien Vulcan female portrayals over entertainment — substance over soap opera — and Curtis delivered a great performance in this regard.

73. Mel - January 7, 2012

Robin Curtis was boring. I really didn’t like her portrayal of Saavik. Kirstie Alley was so much better in this role!

74. sean - January 7, 2012

#72

Lots of false equivalencies there, MJ. Entertainment is hardly limited to ‘soap opera’. I’m sure most people that watch Star Trek are doing so to be entertained, first and foremost. And let’s be honest, there is no ‘realistic’ portrayal of a Vulcan. They’re imaginary. All we have is what’s on the screen, and going by that measurement, Curtis’ portrayal stands out as odd, not Alley’s.

I do wish you could express your opinions without insulting everyone that disagrees with you.

75. Jack - January 7, 2012

72. Nonsense. What soap opera? Watched both movies on netflix this morning. Alley’s Saavik works. Yes, she’s apparently tearing up in the funeral scene (which I’d never noticed until reading one of the making of books) — but, heck, who says a Vulcan has never shed a tear before? Is it mastery of emotion or supression of emotion? She didn’t throw herself on to the coffin. And, again, what female Vulcans? I’d say both Lovsky and Martell had presence/charisma/a personality (and none of those words is code for anything, they mean what they mean), as did the male Vulcans we’d previously seen.

73. Agreed. MJ, you like Curtis, it seems. Fair enough. Why can’t I prefer Alley in the role without being an idiot? This is getting into Sarah Palin “anyone who criticizes me is a hater” territory.

Although, I’m thrilled you haven”t hauled out the Alley fat jokes.

68. Agreed.

76. MJ - January 7, 2012

@ “73. Agreed. MJ, you like Curtis, it seems. Fair enough. Why can’t I prefer Alley in the role without being an idiot? This is getting into Sarah Palin “anyone who criticizes me is a hater” territory.”

Well I think you know by now that I tend to get a bit carried away in my posts from time to time. Sorry about that, Jack

PS: I save all my fat jokes for Shat. LOL

77. MJ - January 7, 2012

@74. Sean — you make some good points, and I apologize for getting a bit carried away and unintentionally insulting folks.

I don’t agree though they we should give Alley’s and Catrall’s portrayals of rather emotive sexy female Vulcans a free pass though just because Vulcan is imaginary and Trek is fiction. There should still be some sf standards of making 100% Vulcan’s more logical and less emotional the the 50% Vulcan Spock. I find it unconvincing when 100% Vulcans on Trek are more emotional than Spock ever was — and these almost always tend to be Vulcan women, unfortunately (and that is kind of sexist when you think about it).

78. Red Dead Ryan - January 7, 2012

#76.

“PS: I save all my fat jokes for Shat. LOL”

Well, seeing as how Shatner appears to have dropped some pounds, you’ll have to settle for someone else.

79. Jack - January 8, 2012

77. Might a 50% Vulcan overcompensate a little? ;)

80. MJ - January 8, 2012

@79. He might, but that seems a rather thin argument to me.

81. DS9 IN PRIME TIME - January 8, 2012

@7 couldn’t have said it better

82. Jerry Modene - January 8, 2012

The theory I came up with way back when to explain the differences in Saavik’s emotional state is that Saavik had undergone some preliminary Kohlinahr training between the events of STII and STIII – perhaps out of embarrassment at being caught crying during Spock’s memorial service.

It did seem, though, during the year-plus between STII and STIII that we were being prepped for a possible series with David and Saavik as the stars – sort of a literal “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, what with David being Kirk’s son and Saavik being Spock’s protege/successor.

83. Jack - January 8, 2012

And how does a 100% Dutchman behave compared to a 50% Dutchman? What if they’re from different parts of Holland? If Alley was playing a buddhist, should she be playing it like all the other buddhists we’ve seen before?

homogeneity nearly killed Trek, I like me some variety.

And, actually, I don’t think Spock overcompensating is a stretch at all. He repeatedly says he can’t love — but his dad seems to have no problems showing love to a human. Other Vulcans seem to bond.

homogeneity nearly killed Trek, I like me some variety.

Heck, two people sharing one or more of the same descriptors (Irish, gay, female, rugby player, ginger, mulatto, doctor, captain, American, werewolf) might have some elements in common, but they may have more differences than similarities.

We’re shaped by all sorts of things.

Yep, I know it’s fiction… but “Saavik, a Vulcan… period.” would not be a very interesting character.

84. MJ - January 9, 2012

@83 “homogeneity nearly killed Trek, I like me some variety.”

Cool, so then you should be with me on Curtis’s performance, since her super-cold emotionless Vulcan portrayal was different from Nimoy’s. Agreed — the departure with here performance was refreshing from the Alley Spock-like performance. Glad we are in agreement!

85. Jack - January 9, 2012

Yeah, but she was playing the SAME character.

Heck, maybe that’s the problem. Replacing an actor who was pretty significant in the previous movie. Maybe nobody could have done it well. But, you raise a good question. Would I have liked Curtis’s performance if she was a brand new Vulcan character? Dunno.

I also don’t think she was super-cold and emotionless at all — even the David is dead line (she had plenty of facial expression). For me the problem was that she seemed so wooden. I saw an actress struggling, not a character struggling.

86. MJ - January 9, 2012

Well Jack, we will just have to agree to disagree on this one I guess. :-)

87. Jerry Modene - April 29, 2012

BTW, I’ve also read that they tried to have Kirstie as Saavik as the officer standing behind Captain Bateson in TNG’s “Cause and Effect” – but, again, she asked for too much money.

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