Kirstie Alley made her convention debut Thursday afternoon, walking out to thunderous applause.
The Emmy-winning actress spoke about growing up in Kansas, breaking into show business, working with Woody Allen and John Travolta, her time on Cheers, and of course, her debut as Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
She revealed that Nicolas Meyer played a very key role in launching her career:
You’re very fortunate in your life if you have someone who champions you, and he is probably the most significant champion of my career. Before Star Trek II I had done nothing, I had faked my resume. He knew that I was brand new. He just kept auditioning me…and in the final hour he gave me the role.
He also stuck with her after she suffered a personal tragedy while she was auditioning:
My parents were in a car wreck and my mother was killed. My father was injured badly and I flew back home and I called my agent and said “my parents have been in this car accident and I can’t leave my Dad until I know he’s ok, so you have to tell them I can’t come on Monday”. So he told them “she can’t come back until her father is out of intensive care”. And Nick said, “Ok, we’ll wait for her”. It still makes me almost start crying.
The mentor-student relationship between Spock and Saavik carried over into real life:
I felt he tried to mentor me into being more responsible. He would sorta of look at me more in the viewpoint of Spock than Leonard Nimoy. You know, “what is wrong with you?”. I felt like that worked because he was sort of looking at me like that in real life and it sort of worked for Saavik, because she was his protege, she took whatever he thought or said very seriously. So, I was always a little nervous around Leonard.
There’s a very memorable moment near the end of the film when Saavik cries at Spock’s funeral. Alley says that reaction was very real:
I just started crying because I thought it was sad that Spock died and we were shooting the scene. It was so surreal and so sad. I just started crying and they used it. It wasn’t some big dramatic coup. I was really sad.
She also spoke on working with William Shatner and the rest of the cast:
I think we got on pretty well. I think he thought I was a bit of a doofus, which I was. He was a professional, and that whole cast was a well oiled machine, they were all very professional. And he could tell I wasn’t always prepared as I should be, because as much as I was grateful for getting a role in a movie, I was also a bit of an irresponsible twit. They always knew their lines perfectly, and sometimes I knew them and sometimes I didn’t.
On why she didn’t reprise her role in Star Trek III:
I don’t know the answer to that. I was offered the third one, but…it was a half-assed offer. It was ‘the character was going to be a lot bigger and she’s going to be a more important character in the movie and we’d like to pay her less than we did for the first one.’ It made me think they don’t want me in the third one. I have heard Leonard Nimoy say ‘no we wanted her in it’, but that sorta didn’t make sense, so it’s still a mystery to me.
Alley clearly was having a good time throughout, and indicated that she might be back in the future:
It’s cooler than I thought it would be. Each person I’ve talked to is really nice and easy to talk to. I look forward to doing another one!