Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, even three-plus decades after its release, remains a pivotal adventure for Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the rest of the Star Trek: The Original Series crew. Given the Spock-centric events of Star Trek: Discovery, we re-watched it recently, and it holds up -- holds up as Star Trek, holds up as a bridge between the heartbreak of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the pure joy of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and holds up as a movie in its own right. The film, of course, marked the directorial debut of Leonard Nimoy, and he made the most of a fairly low-key story that in large part centered on finding Spock and bringing the Vulcan back to life. Please join StarTrek.com as we look back at some of our favorite Search for Spock-related lines, moments and anecdotes.
Just a few days -- or even a day, depending on the source -- after Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan opened in theaters, writer-producer Harve Bennett started tapping out what would become The Search for Spock. The title of his initial 20-page treatment/outline was Return to Genesis.
Best Line #1
"To absent friends..."
Nimoy selected an array of veteran actors and newcomers for key ST III roles. On the veteran spectrum, Mark Lenard returned to reprise his TOS role as Spock's father, Sarek, and Nimoy convinced the revered, Oscar-nominated Dame Judith Anderson to play the pivotal role of the Vulcan High Priestess T'Lar. Meanwhile, Robin Curtis was just in her mid-20s and a relative rookie when she took over the role of Saavik from Kirstie Alley, and Merritt Butrick was a year or two younger than Curtis -- and best known for the short-lived, but cult-favorite series Square Pegs -- when he reprised the role of Kirk's doomed son, David.
Anyone who'd ever seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or The Lady in Red knew full well that Christopher Lloyd possessed major acting chops, but when tapped to play the Kruge, the Klingon commander, he was in the midst of generating laughs as Rev. Jim on the comedy series, Taxi. According to Memory Alpha, Nimoy's first choice to play Kruge was actually Edward James Olmos, who later went on to star in Battlestar Galactica, but Paramount said no. On a side note, Lloyd and William Shatner reunited not too long ago to shoot an upcoming film comedy, Senior Moment, in which they portray... are you ready?... Best friends.
Star Trek III commenced production on August 15, 1983. According to Memory Alpha, "the opening scene on the Enterprise bridge was the first to be filmed." The shoot concluded on October 20, 1983 after wrapping a scene on the Excelsior bridge.
Best Line #2
"And Enterprise feels like a house with all the children gone. No, more empty even than that. The death of Spock is like an open wound."
Nimoy in Charge
Back in a 2011 interview, StarTrek.com asked Nimoy the following about making his feature film directing debut with ST III: How at home were you behind the camera? Did you feel like you had training wheels on? And how satisfied were you with the finished film? He replied, "I was very comfortable shooting the movie. I did feel that I was being quite controlled, I guess is the word. I was made to justify everything that I did and explain everything that I was doing, which took a lot of energy. And I resented it. It bothered me that I was being so carefully monitored because I really felt that I knew what I was doing. I thought the script was workable and did what it had to do, which was to find Spock and get him back on his feet. I thought it was an interesting idea, the whole idea of the Genesis planet evolving and Spock’s remains evolving with the planet. It may not have been as much fun as some would like, but I thought it did the job. It did it what it set out to do. Maybe, in retrospect, we might have found a better story or construct, to get that job done. But we got the job done and the film was OK. At the box office, it did what was becoming the pattern for Star Trek films. It did about the same as was expected, so it was OK. It was not a gigantic runaway hit, but it was not considered a failure. And it was strong enough that they decided to go ahead and make another one after that."
All Hail the Tribbles
There, in the bar scene, aren't those... Tribbles? They are indeed, making their first live-action appearance since TOS.
Best Line #3 and #3 -- Yup, It's a Tie!
"Don't call me Tiny!" and, of course, "This isn't reality. This is fantasy! You wanted adventure, how's this? The old adrenaline going, huh? Good boy. Now get in the closet!"
Checks and Balances
The Search for Spock cost $16 million to produce. It grossed $76.5 million at the North American box office. That figure was just south of the North American gross of Star Trek II, which beamed up $78.9 million on a budget of $11.2 million.
Best Line #4
"Jim. Your name is Jim."
What stands out most for YOU about Star Trek III: The Search for Spock?