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30 Surprising Facts About STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN You Didn't Know

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) - Captain Kirk (William Shatner) screaming "Khaaan!"
How much do you know about Wrath of Khan

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the best Star Trek movie ever, but most people don't know much about how it was made. The film celebrated it's thirtieth anniversary last year. In a (belated) celebration of the classic film, here are 30 things you probably don't know about Wrath of Khan.

1. Some of Khan's (Ricardo Montalbán) men were played by Chippendale's exotic dancers.
Nicholas Meyer and Ricardo Montalbán on set

2. Creator Gene Roddenberry proposed a story where the Enterprise stops the Klingons from saving John F. Kennedy from assassination.
JFK Assassination

3. The studio blamed Roddenberry for the high cost and poor reviews of Star Trek: the Motion Picture. The studio removed him from his role as executive producer and made him "executive consultant." He had little creative input and the title meant nothing.
Gene Roddenberry talking with producer Harve Bennett
 4. Leonard Nimoy didn't want to put the ears on again. They convinced him to come back by saying he would have "the greatest death scene in motion pictures."
Captain Kirk saying goodbye to Spock

5. Originally, Spock was supposed to die early in the film similar to Janet Leigh in Psycho. The script leaked early, and fan backlash forced them to rewrite the death into the final act.

6. Fans angry about the death of Spock sent death threats to members of the production right up until the premiere. Robert Sallin got messages on his answering machine like “You kill Spock and we’ll kill you!
1982 Wall Street Journal article on fan reaction to Spock's death
7. During Spock's death scene, Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) was supposed to say,  "He's dead, Jim.'" Kelley thought people would laugh at the famous catchphrase, so he switched lines with James Doohan who changed it to, "Sir! He's dead already."
Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and Scotty (James Doohan) hold Kirk from entering radiation chamber

8. Other titles considered for Star Trek II were "Star Trek: The Genesis Project," "The War of the Generations," "The Undiscovered Country" and "The Vengeance of Khan." The last name was rejected because Lucasfilm, who did the special effects, didn't want to compete with Star Wars VI, which was then called "Revenge of the Jedi."
One-sheet teaser for Revenge of the Jedi

9. Producer Harve Bennett had never seen an episode of Star Trek and thought the first movie was "boring."
Harve Bennett with the cast of Star Trek II
10. Bennett felt the biggest problem with the first film was the lack of a good villain. He binge-watched the original series and decided Khan from the episode "Space Seed" was the perfect villain.
Khan discusses politics with Kirk in "Space Seed" (1967)

11. One of the original script treatments had a young Vulcan man named Dr. Savik. The character changed to a woman in the final script, but they still referred to her as "Mr. Saavik."
Kirstie Alley asleep in make-up chair

Update: It's been pointed out that Naval officers are often called "Mr." in the military regardless of gender. But the Emily Post Institute on military titles says "Naval officers who rank from lieutenant commander up are called 'Commander.' Officers below that rank are called 'Mr.' in conversation but are introduced and referred to by their titles."

As a Lieutenant JG she should have been referred to as "Lieutenant". Memory Alpha says "Normally applied to subordinates, the title is said in the film by Admiral Kirk and Captain Spock in reference to Saavik." Star Trek doesn't always follow Naval traditions anyway.

12. Saavik's (Kirstie Alley) crying during Spock's funeral wasn't in the script and Shatner was furious since "Vulcans can't cry."
Spock's funeral with an emotional Lt. Saavik

13. Deleted scenes explained that Lt. Saavik is more emotional than other Vulcans because she's half Romulan.
Lt. Saavik angry
14. Nicholas Meyer wrote the shooting script in twelve days.
Director Nicholas Meyer and William Shatner discussing scene
15. Robert Sallin got the idea of the mind-controlling creature, known as a Ceti Eel, from a slug on his morning newspaper.

16. Paramount actually patented the Ceti Eel designs for an "ornamental design for a toy animal." Thankfully they never made stuffed kid's toys.
Patent D275777 (1982)

17. The final scene with Spock's body on the Genesis planet was filmed at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

18. Khan had several books in his shelf that had themes of loss and revenge like Moby Dick, Paradise Lost and King Lear.

19. Originally, the story followed the Federation's development of a doomsday weapon known as the "Omega System." Art director Michael Minor suggested changing it to terraforming device, since they wanted to keep the Enterprise on a mission of peace.
Transporting the "Genesis Device"

20. They used an oversized model of Walter Koenig's ear for the close-ups of the Ceti Eel leaving Chekov. As a joke, the crew put an oversized Q-Tip next to it.

21. The Ceti Eel scene was so revolting to test audiences they had to cut the scene short for the theatrical version. It still made audiences faint in shock.

22. While it's widely rumored that Ricardo Montalbán wore a fake chest, it's his real body. Montalbán was known to be in extremely good shape and the costume was designed to emphasize his physique.

23. Originally Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue), the ship's historian seduced by Khan in the original episode, was supposed to return as Khan's wife. Sadly, Bennett discovered the actress was confined to a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis. Instead of re-casting her, he had her character written out of the story.
Khan and Marla McGivers (Madlyn Rhue)

24. The studio tried hard to make Saavik sexy, but she and Nicholas Meyer resisted to stay true to her military background.

25. Montalbán was still filming Fantasy Island at the time and filmed his scenes at different hours from the rest of the cast. He never met William Shatner on set.

26. As a joke, the crew surprised Montalbán by a small robot with the face of his Fantasy Island co-star, Herve Villechaize.

27. In the scenes where actors Kirstie Alley and Nimoy are speaking in Vulcan, they're actually using English on the set. The sound designers made up Vulcan based on their lip movements and had them dub it back in Vulcan.

28. The Genesis Planet scene in Wrath of Khan is the first computer generated scene (Update: fractal based anyway) in movie history. Lucasfilm Graphics Group later became Pixar, which made the first full length CGI film.

29. Khan's final line, "'From Hell's heart... I stab at thee. For hate's sake I spit my last breath... at thee'." was from Moby Dick.

30. The industry was shocked when Paramount sold the home videotape for $39.95, since most VCR tapes cost twice that much, and they would need to sell a (for the time) astonishing 60,000 copies to break even. They sold over 120,000.

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