The Random Connection Between ‘Star Trek VI’ and ‘Planet of the Apes’

Klingon courtroom scene from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

YouTube Klingon courtroom scene from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

In 1974, the classic Charleston Heston film Planet of the Apes was adapted into a television series of the same name. The show only ran for one short season of 14 episodes. One of the main characters in the series was General Urko, one of the humanoid apes that had taken over Earth. Though the makeup and prosthetics made it hard to see his face, the actor portraying Urko was a familiar one to Star Trek fans — Mark Lenard.

Trek fans know Lenard as Sarek, the Vulcan ambassador, and Spock’s father. Lenard portrayed Sarek in Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS), Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), and four of the TOS movies, including Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

However, Lenard’s appearance in both the TV series and the movie might not be the only connection between Planet of the Apes and The Undiscovered Country. In an exclusive interview with Heavy in February, Eric Stillwell, who played a Klingon extra in The Undiscovered Country revealed another possible connection between the show and the movie.


Does That Klingon Look Familiar?

Mark Lenard as General Urko in the Planet of the Apes television series

YouTubeMark Lenard as General Urko in the Planet of the Apes television series

Stillwell said that the acquisition of the costumes for The Undiscovered Country was haphazard. The costume crew basically went around to all the wardrobe providers in LA and borrowed whatever costumes they could that fit with the Klingon aesthetic. They even borrowed some costumes that were lying around the wardrobe departments at other studios.

The day that they went in for their costume fitting Stillwell and his friends, who had also been cast as Klingon extras, were dressed up in random bits of costumes from other projects until they achieved a Klingon-esque look.

After their fittings, they went to lunch in their costumes. That’s where they ran into Lenard himself. He was also in the studio for a costume fitting. Stillwell and his friends went over to say hello to Lenard, and according to him Lenard was “super nice.”

At one point during the conversation, Lenard told Stillwell, “It looks like you’re wearing a General Urko costume from Planet of the Apes.”

Later, Stillwell was chatting with one of the assistant directors, who told him that they had, in fact, borrowed some costumes from the studio that did Planet of the Apes. So, Stillwell thinks it’s “very possible” that he and Lenard wore the same costume for different projects.


Borrowed Klingon Costumes

Klingon Courtroom scene from Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country

YouTube

In the bonus features on the DVD special edition release of The Undiscovered Country, Michael Okuda, one of the authors of The Star Trek Encyclopedia, revealed why many of the Klingon costumes were borrowed and pieced together. The scenes of the Klingon courtroom where Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy were put on trial, featured more Klingons than there had ever been in a single scene of Star Trek. The rafters of the theater-like set were filled with dozens of extras, all in Klingon costumes.

The costume department had some Klingon costumes leftover from previous Star Trek films, but there weren’t nearly enough to dress all the Klingons in the courtroom scenes. So, the more prominent Klingons in the movie got new costumes designed by Dodie Shepard. The Klingon extras were given the old uniforms and whatever bits of costumes they could put together from other wardrobe providers and studios.

So, that’s how one of the Klingons in the rafters of the courtroom scene ended up looking suspiciously like a character one of his colleagues played in another franchise.

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