The original Saavik has spoken! And she wants everyone to know that she’s a Vulcan, not a Deltan! On Thursday, actress Kirstie Alley dunked a few confused Trekkies on Twitter who had conflated her iconic Trek character Saavik with a totally different Trek alien altogether.
The late actress Persis Khambatta played the famously bald Lt. Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, and did, in fact, shave her all her hair off for the role. The character was an alien called a Deltan, known for emitting sexual pheromones that were irresistible to humans. However, though Ilia was the navigator of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, she has nothing to do with Saavik, the half-Vulcan, half-Romulan character played by Kirstie Alley in The Wrath of Khan. Sure, they were both sitting next to Sulu and helping fly the ship, but they’re two totally different characters.
However, a few Trekkies on Twitter were confused. Specifically, radio host Lisa Stanley who asked Alley if she shaved her head for her role in Star Trek.
Alley’s response was swift and perfect. Noting that not only was that not the correct Star Trek character, but that she had “TONS of hair” in Star Trek II. This is funny for the obvious reason that she and Khambatta are not the same person, but also because there’s a famous scene in Star Trek II in which both Kirk and Bones wonder if Saavik has changed her hairstyle.
After Star Trek II, the role of Saavik was not played by Alley in Star Trek III. Instead, Robin Curtis took over the role, which she also played in Star Trek IV. Some sources insist that Nicholas Meyer wanted Saavik to return for Star Trek VI and be played by Kirstie Alley again. However, eventually, a new Vulcan character was created instead — Lt. Valeris — played by Kim Cattrall.
So, to keep things straight for everyone: Kirstie Alley played Saavik first in 1982, then Robin Curtis did in 1984, and again in 1986. Before that, Persis Khambatta played Ilia in 1979. And then Kim Cattrall played Valeris in 1991. That’s four actresses and three different characters. Two of the characters are Vulcans, and neither of those two are bald. Only the Deltan, Ilia, is bald.