"Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" : Behind the Scenes Info

Harve Bennett famously screened all seventy nine episodes of the television series in order to familiarize himself with "Star Trek." "Space Seed", he felt, was the best candidate from a number of episodes to base a sequel on. Similarly, Ricardo Montalban (Khan) re-watched the episode in order to re-familiarize himself with the character.
After reading an early version of the script, William Shatner (Kirk) told Nicholas Meyer that he didn't like certain aspects of it. As a result, Meyer rewrote some of the script and sent it to Shatner. Shatner loved the changes and left an ecstatic message on Meyer's answering machine praising Meyer's talent. Nicholas kept the message and played it on the set any time Shatner didn't like the way he was shooting something.
While this film was Kirstie Alley's (Saavik) first film role, she had actually appeared as a contestant on "Match Game '79" before becoming an actress. From here, she would gain notoriety for portraying the character Rebecca Howe on "Cheers" (alongside future Trek guest stars Bebe Neuwirth and Kelsey Grammer).
Kirstie Alley (Saavik) was so fond of the Vulcan ears that she slept with them on.
In the movie "Look Who's Talking Now", Kirstie Alley's character, while working as an elf in a shopping mall, claims she's not an elf, but rather a Vulcan, a reference to her role as Saavik.
The background noise for the Enterprise was recorded from a heating/air conditioning duct beside a screening room on the Paramount lot.
Original titles for the film included "The Undiscovered Country" (which would later be used for "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country") and "The Vengeance of Khan." The latter was the set title for the film for a short time, until it was learned that the sequel to "Star Wars" was to be titled "Revenge of the Jedi" (it was later renamed "The Empire Strikes Back"). To avoid confusion, the title of the film was finally changed to "The Wrath of Khan."
Due to the budget for "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" spiraling severely out of control, this film was given a much lower budget (the lowest to date of all the "Star Trek" films)
As part of the budget constraints, director Nicholas Meyer had to rely on stock footage from the previous film in several scenes, including:
  • The Kobayashi Maru scene - the Klingon ships were recycled.
  • The shuttlecraft scene - the approach of Kirk's shuttle was recycled.
  • The drydock scene - the shots of the Enterprise lighting up and exiting the drydock were recycled.
  • "So much for the little training cruise" - when the Enterprise jumps to warp, the warp effect is recycled

Additionally, many props and models from the first film were reused as well. The Enterprise bridge is the same set, slightly altered and rearranged, the Reliant bridge is a redress of the Enterprise bridge with brown upholstery on the chairs and the Regula I model is the orbital office model from the previous film, turned upside down. The environmental suits used by Chekov and Terrell are the thruster suits from the previous film. The phaser weapons were retained from the previous film, though the communicators were redesigned to appear more like they did in the television series.

The cast demanded that if they were to return for another "Star Trek" film, that the monochromatic uniforms from the previous film would have to be replaced.
In the opening scene, there is a "NO SMOKING" sign visible on the bridge of the Enterprise mock-up. Gene Roddenberry, reassigned as "Executive Consultant", demanded that it be removed, claiming that smoking would not exist in the 23rd century. The sign was removed, however, several instances of smoking would crop up in later productions, such as TNG: "The Big Good-bye", "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier", and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country."
The Genesis Effect shown in Dr. Marcus' proposal was the first all-digital CG sequence to appear in a film.
When Mr. Spock and Saavik speak to each other in Vulcan, the actors are actually saying the lines in English, with similarly pronounced Vulcan words being dubbed in later.
Judson Scott (Joachim) goes uncredited in the film due to his agent, who believed he could get a bigger salary and higher billing if he held out. He proved mistaken and the agent was summarily dismissed. Scott would guest star in TNG: "Symbiosis" (alongside Merritt Butrick [David Marcus]) and VOY: "Message in a Bottle", being credited both times.
Paul Winfield (Captain Terrell) would later guest star as Captain Dathon in TNG: "Darmok."
The tank used by the special effects team to create the Mutara Nebula was also used to create the illusion of a nuclear mushroom cloud in the chilling ABC television movie "The Day After" (also directed by Nicholas Meyer and featuring Bibi Besch [Carol Marcus]).
The Reliant is the first non-Constitution class Federation ship to be seen in a live-production of "Star Trek." It was designed with the impression in mind that audiences would believe the Enterprise and the Reliant were part of the same fleet, yet, clearly different in appearance.
Leonard Nimoy agreed to appear as Mr. Spock after producer Harve Bennett asked him "How would you like to have a terrific death scene?" There was much speculation at the time that Nimoy hated "Star Trek" and did not want to play Mr. Spock anymore (Nimoy's biography "I Am Not Spock" only fuelled such speculation). However, by Nimoy's own account in later years, that was not the case and fully embraces what "Star Trek" and Mr. Spock had done for both his career and life.
In the original cut of the film, Mr. Spock died on a note of finality. However, it was perceived to be too much of a downer. As a result, the "Remember" scene was inserted as was the shot of Mr. Spock's casket laying on the surface of Genesis as it was believed those two elements were vague enough for any number of possible sequels to stem from them.
Gene Roddenberry was furious when he learned that Mr. Spock would perish in the film. As a result, he leaked the plot twist to the media before the film's release, in the hopes that it would enrage "Star Trek" fans to the point that they would boycott the film. To combat this, Mr. Spock was scripted to "die" along with the rest of the Enterprise crew in the opening of the film in the Kobayashi Maru scenario in order to throw off audiences.
Visible in Admiral Kirk's apartment in a Commodore computer, for which William Shatner was an endorser of at the time.
Dr. McCoy was originally scripted to say "He's dead, Jim" in the Engine Room after Kirk rushes in, but, DeForest Kelley refused to say the line as he felt it would be perceived as funny to the audience and ruin the moment.
Filmed and cut from the film was a line explaining that Saavik was half-Romulan, which explains why she is seen shedding tears at Mr. Spock's funeral. Also cut was a brief scene on the bridge of the Enterprise in the coda which hints at a relationship between Saavik and David. Neither scene was restored in the 2002 Director's Edition DVD.
Long since lost from the lore of the film is the notion of Khan's baby, which was filmed, but ultimately cut from the movie. Two photos that were taken were publicized in several magazines of the day depict the baby; one which shows the small child looking out a window of the Botany Bay on Ceti Alpha V which catches Chekov's attention, but the child quickly scurries away. In the other, after Khan activates the Genesis Device, the baby is seen walking towards it in the transporter room, mesmerized by the flashing colours and whatnot.