The greatest Trek movies of them all — The Wrath of Khan — featured an unknown actress’s first appearance in the role of a Starfleet trainee. She was strong and smart, and she even corrected Admiral James T. Kirk. The character, a half-Vulcan, half-Romulan, was named Saavik. She played a pivotal role in the “Genesis Trilogy” of films.
When we met Saavik for the first time, she was portrayed by actress Kirstie Alley. Director Nicholas Meyer famously plucked Alley out of obscurity and put her in the center of the Star Trek Universe. As well as she performed, and as much as fans loved Alley in the role, she did not return for the sequel to Wrath — The Search for Spock.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Alley left the franchise due to a salary negotiation gone wrong. This forced Star Trek III director Leonard Nimoy to choose a new actress for the role of Saavik. Her name was Robin Curtis. She played Saavik in Star Trek III and IV. She returned to the franchise in The Next Generation as a full-blooded Romulan.
“A lot of the work that I did on the Star Trek film… I felt that I was under a lot of pressure,” Curtis told fans at a Trek fan event in 2008. She described how Nimoy walked her through each scene and each line to make her utterly comfortable as Saavik.
Since her time with the franchise, Curtis became a staple at conventions and was recognized as a fan favorite. She appeared on Night Court, the original MacGyver, and Babylon 5, among other shows. Trek site Memory Alpha says that she retired from acting in 1999 but returned briefly for her one-woman show, Not My Bra, You Don’t! – The Sexual Odyssey of a Forty-Nine Year Old Woman, in 2005.
Where’s Robin today?
If you’re looking for property or a home in Upstate New York, give Curtis a call. She’s a real estate agent and is still active with the Star Trek fan community. Recently, she appeared on the Inglorious Trexperts podcast, talking about her time as Saavik.
Curtis recounted her first convention experience, which was right after she’d been cast in Star Trek III in 1983. She told the Treksperts that she felt unworthy to stand before the fans.
“But once I was out there — I jumped in,” said Curtis. “I would do a Klingon peace conference… I would step in and do whatever the fans wanted!”
Curtis also told the Treksperts that when she met Star Trek: Strange New Worlds actor Ethan Peck for the first time, she did not know who he was. She said that she had been such a fan of Peck’s grandfather, the late Gregory Peck, that she felt embarrassed to not know who the young actor was.
A Curtis Comeback?
We should never rule out a return of the character, especially on Star Trek: Picard. As the first season leaned heavily into the story of Romulan refugees. As Vulcans are very long-lived, Saavik could still be alive. Since she is half-Romulan, could there be a spot for her on the show?
But, as Curtis noted in her Treksperts show appearance, the fans in the 1980s were confident that producers Harv Bennett and Nimoy would not let the fact that Saavik and Spock enjoyed pon farr on the Genesis Planet slip past.
“The fans really sort of impressed upon me,” remembered Curtis. “They [talked about the] storyline. She’ll be pregnant, and it’ll be so cool! It was a very provocative thing to imagine playing.”
That being said, Bennett and Nimoy did not mention that Saavik could have been pregnant with Spock’s baby in Star Trek IV. Perhaps if Picard does not meet Saavik on some new adventures, maybe he will run into her child — the son of Spock!