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"Self-expression doesn't seem to be one of your problems."

Lieutenant junior grade Saavik was a Vulcan Starfleet officer who, in the mid-2280s, served aboard both the USS Enterprise and the USS Grissom. Of particular note was her involvement with the failed Genesis project.

Service record[]

In March 2285, Saavik was a Starfleet cadet and, while mentored by Spock at Starfleet Academy, she underwent the Kobayashi Maru scenario. Despite an in-depth awareness of Starfleet regulations, she chose – during the test – to violate the Neutral Zone Treaty by venturing across the Klingon Neutral Zone in an attempt to rescue the freighter Kobayashi Maru, an action that resulted in the simulated deaths of all other officers in the bridge simulator. Afterwards, Saavik related to Admiral Kirk that she doubted the non-winnable simulation had been a fair test of her command abilities, though Saavik also conceded that she had not considered how possible such a situation was in reality.

Saavik crying

Standing next to Uhura, Saavik cries at Spock's funeral

Saavik was thereafter assigned aboard the Enterprise as navigator under Admiral Kirk, firstly in a training cruise that was then prematurely terminated so that the ship and crew could respond to the Genesis crisis. During these missions, Saavik was the highest-ranking cadet from a training crew on board the vessel. As such, she occasionally occupied the ship's command chair and was even permitted to supervise the vessel's departure from spacedock, which she had never done before.

Saavik and Spock pon farr

Saavik assisting the regenerated Spock to endure pon farr

Saavik struggled to become acquainted with Human personality traits and was inquisitive as to how Kirk had handled the Kobayashi Maru scenario. At this stage in her career, she often quoted Starfleet regulations and was surprised by the way Kirk occasionally bent those rules, questioning several of the commands he gave her. Saavik's mettle – as a prospective officer-of-the-line – was actually tested when the Enterprise was unexpectedly engaged in a drawn-out battle with the commandeered USS Reliant. Though she acquitted herself well under the stress of battle, she was admonished by Admiral Kirk that knowing regulations by heart was not enough and that she still needed to learn "why things work on a starship." As an away team member on one particular away mission amid the battle, Saavik visited both the Regula I space station and the Genesis cave, the latter of which was beneath the surface of Regula. She concluded that – as Kirk's method of beating the Kobayashi Maru test had been to cheat the system – he had never faced death. Saavik's mentor, Spock, was killed during the closing stages of the battle. Despite her Vulcan stoicism, Saavik wept at Spock's funeral. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Spock, David Marcus, and Saavik on Genesis

Saavik held prisoner by Kruge, along with David Marcus and a young Spock

Later that year, Saavik was transferred to the Grissom, where she further studied the Genesis planet along with Kirk's son, David Marcus. There, they found the body of Captain Spock, who was believed lost. When Saavik and David found him, Spock's regenerated body was physiologically that of a child, but he aged rapidly. Saavik helped Spock through the agonies of pon farr by mating with him. Afterwards, she and her companions were captured by Klingons. Though a d'k tahg-wielding Klingon officer attempted to murder Saavik, her life was saved by David, whose intervention in these circumstances resulted in him being violently killed by the Klingon. Saavik returned to Vulcan with the Enterprise crew, to reintegrate Spock's katra into his body, in 2285. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Saavik and Spock say farewell

Saavik bidding farewell to Spock

In 2286, Saavik explained to Kirk how his son had died bravely saving her as well as Spock from the Klingons. She remained on Vulcan with Spock's mother, Amanda Grayson, when the Enterprise crew – together with Captain Spock – returned home for Earth. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

According to the Star Trek: Picard Logs, Saavik had become a captain by 2290, when she assumed command of the newly launched USS Titan. [1]


In 2401, there was a shuttlecraft Saavik carried aboard the USS Titan-A. (PIC: "The Next Generation", "Disengage")

Memorable quotes[]

"Any suggestions, Admiral?"
"Prayer, Mister Saavik. The Klingons don't take prisoners."

- Saavik and Kirk, after the Kobayashi Maru exercise (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, wouldn't you say?"
"As I indicated, Admiral, that thought did not occur to me."
"Well, now you have something new to think about. Carry on."

- Kirk and Saavik (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

"He's never what I expect, sir."
"What surprises you, lieutenant?"
"He's so… Human."
"Nobody's perfect, Saavik."

- Saavik and Spock, speaking in Vulcan, on James T. Kirk (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Key dates[]



Background information[]

Origins and concept[]

According to Executive Producer Harve Bennett, the character of Saavik was created by Samuel A. Peeples and was the only element from a script he wrote for Star Trek II that was kept in the final film, which was from a story co-written by Bennett and Jack B. Sowards, and a screenplay that was written by Sowards. Recalled Bennett, "I went right back to Jack's script [and] inserted Saavik." (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 266) According to the William Shatner and Chris Kreski book Star Trek Movie Memories (pp. 111 & 112), however, Saavik was absent from Peeples' script draft and was instead introduced in a previous draft wherein the young Vulcan began "a rather steamy relationship" with Kirk's son, David. The book Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before (p. 74) states that Theodore Sturgeon was responsible for contributing the character of Saavik.

According to the book The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (pp. 37, 38 & 221), a conceptual progenitor of Saavik was a Vulcan male science officer with the name Wicks (a name differing from those of all previous male Vulcans seen in the original series, who instead had names beginning with "S"). Wicks, a science officer aboard the Enterprise under Captain Spock as well as an advanced student of Spock's, was introduced in a nineteen-page outline that Jack B. Sowards wrote for the second Star Trek film. In that version of the story, Wicks gave Admiral Kirk a difficult time when the admiral visited the ship after Spock died, Wicks calling Kirk illogical for expecting a Vulcan to have a sense of humor.

It seems clear from The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (pp. 38, 39, and 40) that Mr. Wicks developed into "Savik" in a later, six-page story treatment, in which he was still a male Vulcan aboard the Enterprise, with Spock as his commanding officer. However, the character was now referred to as the ship's first officer. Savik was also, according to the reference book (p. 43), included in a script draft titled Star Trek: The Omega System, in which it was more than implied that Savik had emotional capabilities and tendencies. Although the book (pp. 47, 51, and 52) credits these versions of the character as having been devised by Harve Bennett and Jack Sowards, it states that "an outside writer" was responsible for writing an outline that was dated 18 July 1981 and featured Savik, for the first time, as a half-Romulan, half-Vulcan woman, though she was also referred to as a doctor in the same outline. As can be seen in the book (p. 48), the character's name was changed to its eventual configuration of Saavik by 30 October 1981.

It might be postulated (as it is in Star Trek Magazine issue 155, p. 61) that it is probable Saavik was initially intended to be a successor of Spock – with her manning the Enterprise's science station in the third film – at a time when Spock actor Leonard Nimoy was reluctant to continue appearing in Star Trek, though the reasoning why this option was not taken was likely as a result of Nimoy having a change of heart shortly prior to the making of the third movie. According to Harve Bennett, however, Saavik's future was uncertain during the writing of Star Trek II. "I had no idea what the future of Saavik might be," he said. (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 268)

In the production history of Star Trek, Saavik was the first Vulcan female whose name did not begin with the letter "T," alternate to such characters as T'Pau and T'Pring from TOS: "Amok Time". Names beginning with an "S" sound had previously been the exclusive domain of Vulcan males, including Spock, Sarek, and Surak. (text commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD) (Later, two more female Vulcans did receive names beginning with "S": Dr. Selar in TNG and Sakonna in DS9.)

The script for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan notes that, "Lt. Saavik is young and beautiful. She is half Vulcan and half Romulan. In appearance she is Vulcan with pointed ears, but her skin is fair and she has none of the expressionless facial immobility of a Vulcan." (Star Trek Magazine issue 155, p. 62) Spock had a line where he stated this fact to Kirk in scene 5 after the Kobayashi Maru test, "She's half Romulan, Jim. The admixture makes her more volatile than – me, for example." Spock's actually filmed line was however trimmed from the scene and not included in the theatrical version, the 1985 television version, or the 2002 Director's Edition DVD release, nor on any of their home media formats. The line was included though, in a contemporary (prior to the "Wrath of Khan" moniker addition) promotional short, voiced by William Shatner. [2]

In Star Trek II, Saavik is commonly referred to as "mister," a form of respectful military address. Normally applied to subordinates, the title is said in the film by Admiral Kirk and Captain Spock in reference to Saavik.

The Star Trek Chronology theorizes that Saavik entered the Academy in 2281, believing the Kobayashi Maru test to be something taken by upperclassmen, though neither has been confirmed.

First film appearance[]

Kirstie Alley and Nicholas Meyer

Saavik actress Kirstie Alley with director Nicholas Meyer

In Star Trek II, Saavik was played by Kirstie Alley. Before she was cast in the part, Director Nicholas Meyer had almost made up his mind about another young performer. (The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, p. 207) This alternative actress was Kim Cattrall (who later appeared as Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country); she proved unavailable for the role, which preceded Alley's casting. (Star Trek Movie Memories, pp. 123-124) Nick Meyer said of Alley, "She auditioned for me, along with many others." (audio commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD)

A long-time fan of Star Trek: The Original Series who had spent years of occasionally play-acting that she was Spock's daughter, Kirstie Alley was extremely excited when she was told about the Saavik role. "I went in and acted like Spock," remembered the actress, "then Nick Meyer said, 'Boy, you have him down. Did you know that?'" (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 170) Alley told Meyer about her fixation on Spock. (The View from the Bridge, hardback ed., p. 99) Meyer recalled, "I saw her, and I said, 'This is her. This is Saavik.' And I never thought about it." (audio commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD) According to Alley, she auditioned four times for Star Trek II. She was 117 pounds after her third audition and attended her fourth audition three days after finding out that her mother had just died in a car crash, an experience that had caused the actress' weight to reduce to 113 pounds. Alley stated, "Nicholas Meyer told me on the spot that I had the role. I always thought that was very kind of him." (How to Lose Your Ass and Regain Your Life, pp. 96 & 100) The director particularly liked the way Alley moved and felt that the combination of her together with Leonard Nimoy looked perfect. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 60) Harve Bennett remarked, "Nicholas Meyer saw something in her, and I think he saw it correctly." (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, p. 75)

Kirstie Alley sleeping in makeup chair

Even while sleeping, Kirstie Alley undergoes the physical transformation into Saavik

During the making of Star Trek II, Saavik's pointed ears were often applied to Kirstie Alley in the very early hours of each morning. Noted Uhura actress Nichelle Nichols, "Being Vulcan, she joined Leonard [Nimoy] and me for our predawn makeup calls." (Beyond Uhura, p. 248) In fact, Alley was so fond of Saavik's pointed ears that, allegedly, the actress repeatedly took the ear prosthetics home with her and wore them to sleep at night. Nick Meyer noted, "She wouldn't take them off." (audio commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD) "I always wondered who she slept with, and it turned out it was the ears," jested Meyer. (audio commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (2009 DVD/Blu-ray)) Years later, Meyer theorized that, while this account from Alley may have been true, her reasoning for having told him this might alternatively have been that she had actually wanted a later makeup call. (The View from the Bridge, interior photographs) Despite having pointy Vulcan ears, the actress' eyebrows were not characteristically slanted like other Vulcans seen up to that time.

Nick Meyer made a concerted effort to embody realism and avoid overt sexuality in Kirstie Alley's depiction of Saavik, which was the actress' first film role. "She was getting advice from all sides, and the studio kept trying to make it more of a 'tits and ass' performance," recalled the director. "I said, 'No, no, no. That's real. You're in the Navy. You're a pro. Just do your job. You're good; you're at the top of your class there.'" (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 61)

Kirstie Alley was somewhat uncertain if other fans would accept a Vulcan female and she endeavored not to make the unemotional female character seem too much like "a bitch," by concentrating on the emotionality of Saavik's Romulan heritage, which accounts for her crying on screen at one point. (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 170) Nichelle Nichols said about the performance decision to show Saavik shedding tears, "That was Kirstie's idea, a beautiful touch." (Beyond Uhura, p. 251) However, William Shatner was alarmed by this behavior during filming and asked Meyer if he was going to "let her do that." (The View from the Bridge, hardback ed., p. 118) The director related, "[Shatner] said, 'Well, Vulcans can't cry.' I said, 'Yeah, well, that's why it's going to be so distressing when this one does.'" (audio commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (2009 DVD/Blu-ray))

Nick Meyer believed Kirstie Alley succeeded in channeling the reserved emotionality of Saavik's Vulcan aspect in the film, generally. The director commented, "She gave a very actor performance, because none of her own, sort of, impish humor is present in this. What you see in Cheers and so forth, her comic timing. None of that. She was a Vulcan." (audio commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (The Director's Edition) DVD) Meyer also thought Alley was "very good" at portraying Saavik. (audio commentary, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (2009 DVD/Blu-ray)) He conceded, "My favorite thing about her was that you had the feeling of the staggering, competent Lt. Saavik, and that was important to me. That was what I wanted to get across. I think the performance is much more interesting for that reason." (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 61) Leonard Nimoy was also impressed with Alley's performance as Saavik, believing her inclusion in the production to have been "fortunate." "Her performance – or, perhaps more correctly, presence – was simply amazing," Nimoy raved. He went on to remark that, even though playing Saavik involved the first work Alley did in front of a camera, "she delivered her lines like a seasoned pro." (I Am Spock, hardback ed., pp. 200 & 202) On the other hand, Gene Roddenberry purportedly once said that he thought Alley was "too Beverly Hills" for Star Trek. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 61) When asked if there was any Human in Saavik's apparently Vulcan-Romulan background, Roddenberry stated, "I'm afraid not. I thought it might be nice if there was but that's not their plan. As a matter of fact, my recommendation to them is that they make her even a bit more alien in her dialogue as we did with Mr. Spock. I thought a few times too often she sounded like an American girl who had just laid down her tennis racket, and I think you have to build in those mysteries and those mysterious ways, especially when you have aliens." ("Chapter 8: Trek on the Big Screen", The Man Who Created Star Trek: Gene Roddenberry)

Scenes deleted from Star Trek II included one wherein Spock made note to Kirk of Saavik's half-Romulan heritage and another in which she was introduced to David Marcus, hinting at an unspoken flirtation between them. [3] As scripted in a draft that featured both these scenes and was dated 18 January 1982, an extension to a conversation that, in the movie, Spock and Saavik have in the Vulcan language included Spock telling Saavik, "You must control your prejudices and remember that as a Vulcan as well as a Romulan you are forever a stranger in a strange land." The same script draft also incorporated some more ultimately deleted material concerning Saavik's connection to David Marcus. (The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, pp. 53, 55 & 62)

It was Nick Meyer who removed the idea of Saavik being half-Romulan. He explained, "I didn't see that it made any difference. There was nothing about her that was Romulan, so let her be Vulcan." (Enterprise Incidents, issue #14, p. 62) Still, the notion of her mixed heritage has lingered on into the script of The Search for Spock where a script annotation for scene 229 stated that "[e]ven a half-Vulcan has a breaking point", though it has remained unspoken in the movie.

The excised flirtatious component of Saavik's relationship with David was connected to a fascination that Saavik is implied as having with Kirk in the film, such as a suggestion that she made her appearance less formal for Kirk's benefit. Producer Robert Sallin confirmed that this was an intentional implication, stating, "Yes, it was meant to be subtle. Another branch of a story which, if you'd allowed it to go, would get in the way." Sallin also accounted for the decision to insert the beginnings of a romance between Saavik and David Marcus, rather than between her and Kirk. "As many young women would," proposed Sallin, "she would realize that the older man might not be obtainable, and look who's here as a very reasonable substitute." (The Making of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, pp. 60 & 61) Nick Meyer thought the intrigue involving Saavik was very successful. "The romance was very, very slight," he observed, "and I liked it. I thought it was funny in the movie because here's Saavik, who is half-way in love with Admiral Kirk, and she knows that's completely inappropriate. The moment she finds out that Admiral Kirk has a son–it just makes a heck of a lot of sense to her." Meyer also noted that the scene deletions ultimately effected the depiction of Saavik's connection with David. "She never learned that he was Kirk's son until the end of the movie in the final version, so all that [earlier] stuff didn't make any sense any more." (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 60)

The flirtation was to take place at the start of scene 247, and the meaningful glances Saavik and David exchange are not lost on a fatherly Kirk, who amusingly remarks, "Ah, she's learning by doing," referring to an earlier discussion he had with Saavik in the turbolift on the Human condition in scene 52. This take was slated for replacement with a more businesslike one, with Saavik herself trying her hand at humor, but neither had been included in any of the movie versions (or their home media format derivatives), though the original, actually filmed, take has also been featured in the aforementioned promotional short. [4] That original one went a long way explaining the obvious warm friendly relationship Saavik and David enjoyed in The Search for Spock.

Loss of actress[]

By the time Star Trek III started to be planned, Paramount Pictures had neglected to negotiate a sequel clause as part of Kirstie Alley's contract for the Star Trek films. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 33) Leonard Nimoy (who was assigned to direct the third film) later explained, "Frankly, Paramount's Business Affairs had dropped the ball on her contract for Wrath of Khan. She'd been a total newcomer then, and Paramount had been within its rights to insert an option clause in her contract that required her to perform in a sequel for a predetermined price. But the company had neglected to do it–so Kirstie was now a free agent!" (I Am Spock, hardback ed., pp. 224-225)

With Leonard Nimoy having been highly impressed by Kirstie Alley's portrayal of Saavik in Star Trek II, he and Harve Bennett were eager for the third film to feature the actress making a comeback appearance in the role. "And she was just as eager to return," said Nimoy. "We contacted her while the script was still in the works, and the salary we discussed was reasonable." Much to Nimoy and Bennett's relief, it seemed as though the contract negotiations would work smoothly. (I Am Spock, hardback ed., pp. 224-225)

However, Kirstie Alley's agent thereafter requested a massive salary increase for the actress to reappear as Saavik in the new film. This option was declined – due to the financial demands – by Harve Bennett and Leonard Nimoy. In numerous statements, Bennett publicly claimed that Alley had demanded an enormous fee. The actress herself later dismissed this notion, also relating that she had felt surprised by the rejection of her reprising the role and that Paramount had never presented a counter offer to her. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 61) "They offered me less money than they did for Star Trek II," the actress alleged, "so I figured they weren't very interested in [keeping] me for Saavik." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 45) Nimoy contended, "[Alley's agent] quoted a price that was so far beyond our reach that it left me slack-jawed. I'm sure neither he nor Kirstie realized it, but the salary he wanted for her second Star Trek appearance was higher than what was being paid to De Kelley after seventeen years! We couldn't agree to the price on either budgetary or ethical grounds, but Kirstie and her agent held firm." (I Am Spock, hardback ed., p. 225) Nimoy also claimed, "We just couldn't afford her. She'd been paid a decent sum for Star Trek II for a beginner, and I think the studio was prepared to pay her more than twice that much for III." (Star Trek Movie Memories, pp. 174 & 176)

According to Nimoy, the rise in Kirstie Alley's requested salary was directly influenced by the amount the character is featured in the movie, which the actress' agent referred to upon calling the studio back to ask for the increased figure. (I Am Spock, hardback ed., p. 225) The fact that Nimoy and Harve Bennett were plotting the story for Star Trek III while these financial negotiations were ongoing continued to have an impact on how Saavik was depicted in the film. "There were several things we thought about," said Bennett. "One was that Saavik didn't have to appear at all; she could be on leave. But we needed someone in the crew to replace Vulcan knowledge, and that ultimately decided us that she had to be in the story." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 33) Bennett continued, "We didn't want to cut [her] scenes, so we decided to recast the character and keep the part." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 45) This decision was made rapidly after the negotiations with Alley broke down. Nimoy offered, "I think it was clear to us that we wanted to continue the Saavik idea because of her potential relationship with Spock. I was looking for an actress who could fill this slot [....] I was sorry that we had lost Kirstie Alley [though], she was valuable." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 18) Nimoy also said, "We had no choice but to search for a new Saavik." (I Am Spock, hardback ed., p. 225)

Drafts of second appearance[]

An early story outline that Harve Bennett wrote for Star Trek III featured Saavik returning to the Genesis planet as a member of the Enterprise crew, abandoning the ship for the safety of the planet due to attacking Romulan miners. During a tender moment on the surface of Genesis, Saavik directly confessed to Kirk her love for him. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 30)

The idea of having Saavik bond with a young Spock via pon farr was suggested by Gene Roddenberry. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, 3rd ed., p. 89) Both Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett agreed with the idea, the latter of whom later recounted, "I said [to Nimoy], 'Hey man, you do this. Whatever you think is right.' We knew it had to be simple and restrained." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 33) As it had been during the scripting of Star Trek II, Saavik's ultimate fate was undetermined at the time Star Trek III was written. "I had no idea what the future of Saavik might be," noted Bennett. (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 46) For this reason, it was decided that Saavik would not die, along with David Marcus, in Star Trek III. Bennett stated, "We were passing the knife over Saavik just like the Klingon in the film." (I Am Spock, hardback ed., p. 234)

When Saavik is first introduced in the script of Star Trek III, it is said she is "looking radiant, is wearing her hair down these days, but is as intense and efficient as ever." The same script simply notes that Saavik is "half-Vulcan," rather than specifying her other half as Romulan. [5]

Casting a new actress[]

Saavik was played by Robin Curtis in Star Trek III and Star Trek IV, one of only a few instances where a main character in Star Trek was played by a different performer from the one who originated the role. (text commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD) "It was actually a very gentle process," Curtis noted about how she came to be cast in the part. [6](X) Originally, her connection to Star Trek III was arranged by Elza Bergeron (one of three casting directors on Star Trek III), who had been attempting to find a suitable project for Curtis since the spring of 1982. It was now one year later. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD/Blu-ray) Curtis recalled, "I went in and I met the casting people at Paramount, and I had a very nice, congenial meeting, if you will, with the casting people." [7](X)

The members of the casting department set up a meeting that Robin Curtis had with Leonard Nimoy, a day or so later. [8](X) "This meeting was unusual in many respects, but one in particular was that he met with me one-on-one," said Curtis, "and he engendered a very comfortable meeting, where I felt very forthcoming, you know, and we were able to, I think, accomplish something in the brief time we spent together, and a part of that time was spent reviewing the material. He explained to me who this character was and what the back-story was a little bit, so I would understand what it was I was talking about." With permission from Curtis, Nimoy then taped her audition. "And so there took place a lovely exchange of scenes," the actress continued. "We did the scenes together, he directed me [and] he got it all on tape." The fact that Nimoy recorded the audition saved Curtis from having to return for any further auditions for the role. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD/Blu-ray) For his part, Nimoy reminisced, "I was very pleased to find Robin, who I thought had a sense of containment, but at the same time you could see there was an inner light going on." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 18)

At this point, Robin Curtis' casting as Saavik was imminent. She related, "I don't think I met anyone again until I screen-tested almost, maybe, six to eight weeks later. And that almost felt like just a matter of exercise, like, 'Let's have fun now. Let's see what this character might look like if you were to play her because, you know, we think you're going to play her,' kind of thing, you know, and that's what it felt like, that day. And then I was called, I believe the next day, [with news] that I'd got the part and this was absolutely a very thrilling moment." (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD/Blu-ray) It was early August 1983 by the time Curtis was cast as Saavik. (Star Trek Movie Memories, p. 176)

Debut of second actress[]

Saavik's makeup design was changed, introducing slanted Vulcan eyebrows to the character's facial appearance, when Robin Curtis assumed the role for Star Trek III. She did not find her prosthetic Vulcan ears uncomfortable. "Not at all," she remarked. "You could barely tell they were there, once they were glued to you. No, not at all [...] They were completely... you couldn't feel them at all once they were on. They were just this weightless, nothing bit of latex stuff." [9](X) Unlike Kirstie Alley, Curtis was not permitted to keep wearing her ears after the end of each day's filming. Due to this, Curtis was ultimately slightly envious of Alley, laughing, "I'm sorta jealous she got away with it, but I hope she had fun." (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(Special Edition) DVD) The daily removal of the prosthetic ears, in Curtis' case, required a very strong chemical. She was not only instructed that she couldn't take the ear prosthetics home with her but was also cautioned to rub Neosporin on her own real ears every night, as the danger of a skin infection might have made the daily application of the faux ears extremely problematic. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(Special Edition) DVD; [10](X)) Some of the production crew approached Curtis very stealthily and confessed that they found the ears particularly appealing. "Some of the guys implied that they were a little bit of a turn on," Curtis noted. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(Special Edition) DVD)

Whereas Nick Meyer had permitted Kirstie Alley to be more emotionally expressive, Leonard Nimoy focused Robin Curtis' performance on the Vulcan side of Saavik's ancestry. (Star Trek Magazine issue 155, p. 62) Curtis was eager for such a distinction to be made. She later admitted, "I did want to keep things fairly separate between myself and Kirstie Alley." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 45) To her relief, Curtis found that the transition between Alley and herself was not an awkward changeover, for which she credited Harve Bennett and especially the director. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(Special Edition) DVD) Curtis opined, "I think Leonard set an example that everyone followed and that is to say I was never made to feel like I had to fill someone else's shoes. Never for a moment was I made to feel like that and I think that was really Leonard's approach to the whole thing." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 46)

In fact, not only was Curtis spared having to emulate the earlier performance, she also didn't even need to view it. "[Kirstie Alley's] name was never mentioned once to me," Curtis recalled. "In fact, my sense of it was that we were starting new. No one ever said, 'You see, in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, we established that David and Saavik had a flirtation.'" (Star Trek Monthly issue 6, p. 49) Without broaching the characters' dalliance in the deleted scene from the previous film, the topic of this character dynamic was introduced to Curtis by David Marcus actor Merritt Butrick. Curtis felt that the switch of actress was very important to him, later remarking, "I think of everyone he had the most invested in the fact that another actress had played the character [...] He was very forthcoming and generous about what sort of subtle dynamic they might have established between one another, or the characters if you will, and to let me in on that in case there was anything of which I wanted to partake or carry on. You know, he suggested that their characters had a minor flirtation, that kind of thing." [11]

Adopting the Vulcan role and making it her own was a difficult assignment for Curtis. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 137, p. 49) Even though she was familiar with Leonard Nimoy's depiction of Spock in Star Trek: The Original Series, Curtis felt that her familiarity with Vulcans generally was "not to the extent that I felt remotely like I could play the part." [12](X) "The whole world was a new one for me, and it was odd to step into it as a Vulcan," she clarified. "The kind of person I am is about the farthest thing from a Vulcan you can get. My family were big expressers of love and celebration, so yes it was very strange to step into this world and step into it as a Vulcan." (Star Trek Monthly issue 6, p. 49) Curtis also stated, "It was so hard [...] I was never quite sure if I was doing it right. It always felt very robotic and unnatural and inhuman, if you will, to try to be a Vulcan." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 137, p. 49) Along with the minimalism of emotion, Curtis additionally appropriated the formality of the character's dialogue, another factor that she found to be challenging. [13] She reflected, "I was so anxious about doing a good job that I wanted to be perceived as someone very serious and all that good stuff." [14]

To help accommodate Curtis' transition into the part, some advice was given to the performer from her acting coach at the time, such as instructing her to practice her lines of dialogue in front of a mirror and "don't use any aspect of my facial muscles," Curtis later remembered. "Like the edge of my eyes, the corners of my lips – all the things that we move involuntarily when we talk. Practice keeping still." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 137, p. 49) Curtis heeded this advice. "I would look into the mirror and I would try to even express the simplest thing that my character might say without emoting, without moving my face in any way," she said. ("Captain's Log", Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD/Blu-ray)

Robin Curtis and Leonard Nimoy

Robin Curtis being directed by Leonard Nimoy on the set of Star Trek III

Leonard Nimoy also aided Curtis, for which the actress was thankful. She stated, "He gave me a lot of input [...] He guided me every step of the way." [15](X) For instance, the director gave Curtis some helpful notes that influenced her performance, such as saying that Vulcans exhibit a thousand years of wisdom behind the eyes. ("Captain's Log", Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD/Blu-ray) The actress reckoned, "Those are things that although, you know – I hate to claim that I have that, or achieved that, those are the things I […] strived to do in the project." [16](X) Concerning the director's involvement, Curtis elaborated, "I relied heavily on Leonard Nimoy to guide me through my own discomfort […] I only allowed what [he] allowed me to leak out. He made a promise to me and kept it: he promised to never take me out to the end of a limb and leave me dangling there. Leonard promised to direct me very closely and he did just that. I have always been grateful to him for that." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 137, p. 49) Curtis invested a great deal of faith in Nimoy, taking seriously the suggestions he made to her. She remarked, "I was not one of those actors who came to the set and said, 'Well now, you know, I think this is the way we should play this character, Mister Nimoy.'" ("Captain's Log", Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD/Blu-ray) Consequently, Curtis regarded much of her own portrayal of Saavik as having been a collaboration between Nimoy and herself. (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray)/(Special Edition) DVD)

The scene in which Saavik has a pon farr experience with a young Spock was almost deleted, as Paramount feared that it might draw laughs. However, it remained once Paramount realized that it was not being interpreted as humorous by preview audiences. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, 3rd ed., p. 89)

Ultimately, Curtis was proud of her own debut depiction of Saavik. "I think, somehow, even though I did my best to remain so self-contained," she critiqued, "something was always coming through, anyway. And I think that that's what ultimately worked, in some cases." ("Captain's Log", Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD/Blu-ray) She further declared, "For a gal with ants in her pants, I guess I did pretty well." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 137, p. 49) Leonard Nimoy felt likewise, remarking, "I thought Robin Curtis did it very well […] It worked out quite well." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 18) He also enthused, "[She] delivered a lovely, sensitive performance as Saavik." (I Am Spock, hardback ed., p. 226) Harve Bennett's opinion of the second portrayal of Saavik was more mediocre, rating the production team's attempt to follow Kirstie Alley with Robin Curtis as having been "about even." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 120)

Kirstie Alley witnessed her successor's portrayal of Saavik in Star Trek III and revealed thereafter, "I thought [Robin Curtis] was at a real disadvantage playing a role someone else established, especially with Star Trek, which has an enormous following. I think she did a fine job. I have no problem with what she was doing except that, when I saw the film, I said, 'She isn't Saavik, I am." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 45) Ronald D. Moore, who later worked on several of the Star Trek spin-off series, commented on the contemporaneous fan response to Curtis' first appearance as Saavik and shared his own related opinions; "Kirstie Alley really had owned that role in Wrath of Khan, and I think there was a sort of a universal feeling among the fans of, 'Oh, really? We wanted Kirstie back' […] It's too bad [she didn't do Star Trek III] because the role of Saavik is a pretty important one in this film […] It would have been great if Kirstie had been able to continue that role […] [Robin Curtis] does play a Vulcan very well. I mean, Robin sells, she's got the Vulcan thing down, and not every actor or actress can do that, has sort of been my experience." (audio commentary, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Blu-ray))

Final film appearance[]

One reason why Saavik remains on Vulcan in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is because writing her into the film's Earth-based events proved too difficult. "The mechanics of IV made it impossible to bring Saavik along," asserted Harve Bennett, "because when we finally evolved the story we had enough bodies, and Saavik in the 20th century [Earth setting] would have become yet another ear to hide. That would have become complicated, and if there is anything I like to do in storytelling, I like to keep things simple... Too many movies fail because they are complex." (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 270) Leonard Nimoy elaborated, "I can't honestly tell you that that was a conscious decision, to get her out of the way or anything like that. It just seemed as though she'd be extraneous on this trip." (audio commentary, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Blu-ray)/(Special Edition) DVD)

Detailing another reason why Saavik stays on Vulcan near the start of Star Trek IV, Leonard Nimoy explained that, rather than including her in the majority of the film, it seemed "more interesting to leave her behind with the potential information that she was expecting Spock's child." (audio commentary, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Blu-ray)/(Special Edition) DVD) In fact, the scripts for Star Trek IV included more than an implication that the reason Saavik remains on Vulcan is that, while Spock was undergoing pon farr on the Genesis planet, he had sexual intercourse with Saavik to eliminate its effects, and in doing so had impregnated her. Peter Krikes, who originally co-wrote the film's script with Steve Meerson, offered, "There was a scene with Kirk on the Bridge of the Bird-of-Prey. They cut out five lines where Kirk says to Saavik, 'Have you told him yet?' And she says, 'No. I'm taking a maternity leave' […] All they did was cut out five lines of dialogue, and you lost that whole thing, which, I believe, will turn up in a Harve Bennett script in a couple of years." (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 64)

Indeed, Harve Bennett adopted this idea, prior to its omission. "On the Saavik pregnancy I wrote in two scenes," Bennett stated. (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 270) As written in the revised shooting script, Kirk first assures Saavik, on the Bird-of-Prey's bridge, "Your leave has been granted for good and proper cause," and then asks how she is feeling. After Saavik answers that she is "well," Kirk replies, "You will be in good hands here." [17] Bennett recalled another scripted exchange of dialogue, which does not appear in the revised shooting script; "There's another line. 'Does Spock know?' 'No.'" (The Star Trek Interview Book, pp. 270 & 271) The revised shooting script does, in common with the movie, include a scene where Saavik and Amanda Grayson are standing on Vulcan, watching the Bird-of-Prey leave the planet. [18] "That's the third piece," said Bennett, "and that's interesting […] I said, 'Put it in. Let people talk about it' [...] I threw in everything... and I figured maybe, even if we get just one line in, 'Are you all right? You'll be well cared for here, here's where you belong...' The combination of the whole scene, and then Spock's entrance [which remains in the film], 'Good day to you, sir,' 'Saavik,' 'Live long and prosper,' is powerful because it is Stella Dallas. It is, 'I bravely leave you now, to bear your child, and you don't know it.' And then she goes out and we have the third element, 'Mother and daughter-in-law.'" (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 271)

As foreseen in the revised shooting script of Star Trek IV, Saavik differs from how she is represented in the film in a couple of other ways, too. For instance, Saavik, in the script, is said to be "dressed in Vulcan attire." [19] However, she is shown wearing a Starfleet uniform in the film.

Leonard Nimoy, Jane Wyatt and Robin Curtis

Robin Curtis and Leonard Nimoy on the set of Star Trek IV, with Amanda Grayson actress Jane Wyatt

Robin Curtis thought that returning to the role of Saavik for Star Trek IV was not as tough as the previous film had been. "I think it was a little easier because I was a year and a half older and a little more relaxed with everyone and a little more practiced in that style of acting," Curtis observed. [20]

According to Harve Bennett, the scene in which Saavik discusses her pregnancy with Kirk was filmed but was ultimately deleted because Leonard Nimoy (who returned as director for Star Trek IV) was, in Bennett's words, "always very uncomfortable" about it. Despite agreeing with this deletion for several reasons, Bennett also thought that, without the scene, the footage of Saavik with Amanda, watching the Bird-of-Prey depart, "no longer has the same impact." Additionally, the scene deletion, in Bennett's view, left the question of Saavik's pregnancy open to interpretation. "Those who wish to read it will read it, and those who don't see it, won't," he supposed. (The Star Trek Interview Book, pp. 270 & 271) However, Robin Curtis learned indirectly of this story possibility. "It was never discussed with me, not on any formal or informal basis," she related. "Certainly I was just as much a... I don't know if I can say participant, but a receiver of the rumor and the scuttlebutt at the time. People really seemed to think Saavik's pregnancy was going to be a great idea and I got caught up in it. Not that I expected it to happen, but just that I felt I had so little knowledge of Star Trek and the fans seemed to have so much, I thought they must know what they're talking about and this is obviously where this is leading. However, that clearly isn't where it led and it was a bit of an adjustment for me. Nothing serious in the scheme of life, however I was somewhat disappointed about it." [21] Curtis was also regretful that the sexual aspect of Saavik's relationship with Spock was not firmly established on-screen, saying, "I think it would have been interesting to pursue a relationship between Saavik and Spock, and the possibility to have an offspring. That struck me as an interesting thing to play as an actor." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 137, p. 84)

One version of the script would have revealed that Valeris was Spock's daughter with Saavik, also named Saavik after her mother. [22]


Robin Curtis wished Saavik had reappeared in canon after the on-screen events of Star Trek IV, or that Saavik's role in those events had ended differently. "Saavik could have achieved all kinds of things," Curtis speculated. "It has been very unfortunate that the character just got left in the dust. I wish there would have been a better finality to that character, or at least a more exciting way to leave her." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 137, p. 84)

Early drafts of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country featured Saavik in a traitorous role eventually filled by Valeris. Writer Mark Rosenthal originally wanted Saavik to have a romance with Kirk, leading to them producing a Vulcan-Human hybrid like Spock, a plot point that Rosenthal felt would have brought a satisfying conclusion to the TOS series of films. He reckoned that this dynamic evolved into a romance between Spock and Saavik instead, before their relationship returned to that of mentor and protégée (à la their connection in Star Trek II). (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., p. 106)

Gene Roddenberry expressed concerns about turning Saavik into a traitor in Star Trek VI, feeling that she had become a "too beloved" character in his universe. When informed of this, Nick Meyer (who had no love lost for Roddenberry ever since Meyer came aboard for Star Trek II, which had been obtusely opposed by the former) met his concerns with disdain, derisively remarking, "I wrote the character of Saavik in STAR TREK II. That wasn't a Gene Roddenberry character. If he doesn't like what I'm doing, maybe he should give the money he's [making off my films] back. Then maybe I'll care what he has to say." Without bothering to get back to Roddenberry, Meyer pushed ahead. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 31)

Not having been fond of Robin Curtis' performances as Saavik, Nick Meyer wanted Kirstie Alley to reprise the role in Star Trek VI. (Trek: The Unauthorized Story of the Movies, p. 61) Producers Ralph Winter and Steven-Charles Jaffe, similarly to Meyer, didn't consider Curtis for an encore, so Alley seemed like the only suitable alternative; as Winter has phrased it, "Why try recasting a third time? That's really stretching it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 31) Leonard Nimoy agreed with Meyer on this point, though Alley turned out to be unavailable. "Unfortunately, the price she now commanded was well beyond the realm of Star Trek VI's budgetary possibility," Nimoy remembered. (I Am Spock, hardback ed., p. 319) Once again, Alley declined to appear. Meyer explained, "Absent Kirstie Alley, we decided it would be better to introduce a new character." (The View from the Bridge, pp. 203 & 212) Nimoy recollected, "Once Kirstie proved unavailable, we began to reconsider the plot twist that the heretofore loyal Saavik had betrayed the Federation and engaged in a murder conspiracy. Would Star Trek audiences rebel at the notion that Saavik was a traitor? […] We finally decided that the Saavik we knew wouldn't be capable of making this switch in loyalties." (I Am Spock, hardback ed., p. 319) Hence, the eventual decision to substitute the Saavik character was made for reasons entirely unrelated to Gene Roddenberry's earlier concerns, concerning the alteration of making Saavik a traitor to Starfleet. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 31) Ultimately, Meyer was regretful that Saavik wasn't included in Star Trek VI, romantically connected with Spock. Meyer posited, "[Saavik's] backstory from the other films would have made this especially poignant […] In an ideal world Valeris should have been the stalwart Saavik, a character we had already come to love. And trust. This would have sharpened the pain of her betrayal." (The View from the Bridge, pp. 203 & 212)

Not even being considered for a possible return of Saavik proved to be painful for Robin Curtis. "Paramount led me to believe that Saavik was being groomed for more participation, that they were finally trying to include some younger regular characters in the movies. Many fans were excited about the prospects of a romantic pregnancy storyline," Curtis stated, adding her feelings about the snubbing; "That hurt a little bit. It was a far too emotional situation for me to pursue it, to be aggressive enough to call and question why I wasn't considered for the part." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 3, p. 26)

When she was finally cast for the role of Valeris, Kim Cattrall (ironically, the same actress who had been considered to play Saavik in Star Trek II) initially refused the role as she was under the false impression that she had to portray yet another incarnation of Saavik, but jumped at the opportunity when she learned that that was not to be the case, as she considered Saavik "just a girl," whereas she considered Valeris "a woman." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 31; Star Trek Movie Memories, 1995 ed., pp. 374-375)

Soyuz bridge

Captain Morgan Bateson and the female officer standing beside him

A particular female bridge officer who is shown standing next to Captain Morgan Bateson on the USS Bozeman in TNG: "Cause And Effect" was originally intended to be Saavik but, once again, the scheduling couldn't be worked out. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 195) Bateson was played by Kelsey Grammer, a co-star of Kirstie Alley's while both had been regular actors on the series Cheers.

One of Robin Curtis' Saavik costumes from Star Trek III was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. [23]


Kirstie Alley did play Saavik one other time, in a play set between Star Trek II and Star Trek III – "The Machiavellian Principle", written by Walter Koenig for the ambitious "Ultimate Fantasy" convention (aka "Ultimate Fiasco", aka "The Con of Wrath"). It also starred James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols and George Takei, with a walk-on role by William Shatner as "the Admiral". The script, as published by Creation Conventions in a 1987 booklet called "Through the Looking Glass", misspells the name as "Savik".

Saavik had many non-canon adventures in various licensed comics, novels, and games. She first appeared in novels in the novelization of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. She was picked up as an ongoing character for the DC Comics series, volume 1 from issue #1 ("The Wormhole Connection") until #36 ("The Apocalypse Scenario!"), which was a tie-in to the Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home comic special, where Saavik remained behind after Kirk's departure from Vulcan. Saavik also appeared in the Star Trek III: The Search for Spock comic adaptation, an entry in Who's Who in Star Trek issue #2, and two of the annuals: #1, "All Those Years Ago...", and #3, "Retrospect".

In the second volume DC series, Saavik made a guest appearance in #25 ("Class Reunion") and then joined the cast, as a USS Enterprise-A bridge officer, starting with #35 ("Divide... and Conquer"), for the remainder of the series, including the associated Annuals after that point, as well as Star Trek Specials, including one story where Saavik is at odds with Valeris over the former training the latter to take a bridge position. In Tales of the Dominion War, Saavik and Spock have married and are still together after Spock has left on his covert mission to Romulus. In The Lives of Dax, Saavik assists Tobin Dax in a transwarp experiment, and recommends safety procedures that would have averted his shuttle accident.

Saavik's history before Star Trek II was mentioned in two issues of DC's first comic series, #7 ("Pon Farr") and #8 ("Blood Fever"), and was expanded upon in Marvel Comics' Star Trek: Untold Voyages series, as well as the Pocket Books novels Dwellers in the Crucible and The Pandora Principle. Details like ages, dates and costumes differ between the three companies' versions of her story. In the Star Trek: Titan novel Taking Wing, Tuvok, under the guise of a Romulan, greets Spock and gives him greetings from "his wife," Captain Saavik, indicating her return to Starfleet after her stay on Vulcan as well as their marriage in the Josepha Sherman/Susan Shwartz novel Vulcan's Heart.

In the novelization of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock by Vonda N. McIntyre, Saavik is described as having a sexual relationship with Kirk's son, David Marcus (a carryover from the abandoned relationship planned for Wrath of Khan). McIntyre also wrote further subtext into Saavik's motivations for staying on Vulcan in the Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home novelization.

The events following Saavik's exile on Vulcan in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home are explained in the novel Unspoken Truth by Margaret Wander Bonanno.

Despite the fact that Saavik provided the conceptual basis for Valeris, in the novelization of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, they are two separate characters, having befriended each other on Vulcan. It is said they felt a kinship due to the fact that neither had a "proper" Vulcan name nor had experienced a traditionally Vulcan upbringing, with both having chosen to adopt such Vulcan tradition later in life.

According to the video game Star Trek: Starship Creator, Saavik's parents were named Sivak and T'Pala.

External links[]