Nobody knew when Star Trek first premiered in September of 1966 that it would be the genesis of a massive franchise that would still be going strong 52 years later.
Now, it’s 2018: the second season of Star Trek: Discovery is currently being filmed, and there are at least two different new movies in the works, one of them based around an idea by Quentin Tarantino and the other getting the franchise’s first female director.
Along with every Trek TV show and movie come the endless debates about canon. Some people trash the J.J. Abrams movies, others shake their fists at the sky every time someone mentions that Discovery‘s Michael Burnham is Spock’s sister.
What’s fun about the behind-the-scenes photos on this list is that they — in their own silly way — challenge all of our assumptions about Star Trek, no matter which show or movie set they’re taken from.
All Star Treks are famous for the hours their actors spend in the makeup chair, the complex visual effects, the clowning around that goes on when the cameras are down (usually involving singing), and their gag reels, and these photos are pulled from all of those and more.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, these are worth millions, as they show everything from a guitar-playing Spock to a smoothie-drinking Klingon.
Here are 20 Behind-the-Scenes Photos That Completely Change Star Trek.
It’s hard to resist a parody of your own show.
It’s likely that William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are on the set of what might be “Friday’s Child” here, although it’s hard to be 100% sure based on the background and the timing. (It could also have been “A Private Little War” — both episodes were filmed in 1967 at Vasquez Rocks.)
The issue they’re reading together was #115, dated December 1967, and contained the Star Trek satire “Star Blechh,” from the “Waste of Space Dept.”
It was the first of many Trek parodies, all of which began with the same two words. Examples include “Star Blecch III The Search for Plot,” “Star Blecch The Next Degradation,” “Star Blecch Voyeur,” and “Star Blecch Worst Contact.”
The magazine contacted the show’s producers before creating it, asking for “approbation” as well as photos of the cast. Gene Roddenberry’s positive response included “Incidentally, what is ‘approbation’? Anything around here with more than two syllables we use on the show.”
The characters? Captain Kook, Mr. Spook, Dr. BeCoy. The Enterprise was renamed “the star-ship Booby Prize,” and true to the tone of humor at the time, the story had Mr. Spook suggesting that the ship visit “the planet Phi Epsilon nudist colony for women.”
Leonard Nimoy played Mr. Spock for three years on TV and then again in multiple movies, but the actor had many other artistic talents and was frequently exploring them.
In addition to being an excellent photographer, he was also a musician. He released five albums during the 1960s, featuring both songs and spoken word pieces–and none using the Vulcan lyre.
His first album was on Dot Records, and bore the marketing-friendly-but-didn’t-age-well title of Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space.
Gene Roddenberry got involved, of course, stating in a business memo that he expected to receive a “lyric royalty” since he assumed the Star Trek title theme would make an appearance on the album. He also wanted “some voice in the nature and direction of this album” because he created Mr. Spock in the first place, and a share of the profits as well.
The album came out in 1967, with Variety describing the vocals as “pleasantly rugged.”
Always an extremely hard worker — he used to have multiple jobs to support his family before he made it as an actor — he performed at state fairs and amusement parks and on local TV shows to promote the album.
Titles on it included “Music To Watch Space Girls By”, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Earth”, and “A Visit To A Sad Planet”.
While there were a handful of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes in which Data had a red uniform instead of his traditional gold one — “Chain of Command” and “Future Imperfect” are both good examples — this isn’t from an aired show.
The shot comes from the special features section of the TNG season three Blu-ray. It’s from costume tests Brent Spiner did of a prototype command uniform, and if you look closely, you’ll see that it doesn’t quite match what was seen on air.
The background, in case you’re curious, is from the episode “The Ensigns of Command”.
That particular Blu-ray set contained other gems for Star Trek fans, including documentaries about specific episodes, Denise Crosby’s thoughts on revisiting the franchise in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”, Gates McFadden talking about her return to the series after being gone for an entire season, and a nice batch of outtakes.
There was also a 70-minute special called “Inside the Writers’s Room”, which reunited Trek writers Brannon Braga, Ronald D. Moore, Naren Shankar, and René Echevarria in a discussion with Seth MacFarlane.
MacFarlane, a longtime fan who would later appear on Enterprise and then create the show The Orville, came prepared with mountains of notes and enough probing questions to get some great stories out of the group.
While TNG was a pretty staid show for the most part (with some exceptions here and there), things on the set were a lot more fun.
While production started out a little rocky, everyone eventually settled in, and the cast became so close that now, decades later, they are still in frequent contact and love hanging around together.
Patrick Stewart had been classically trained, and was initially concerned about the silliness displayed by his castmates.
Anyone who’s seen this crew on the convention circuit knows what he’s talking about. At Missions New York in 2016, the cast admitted that one director even refused to work with them again because he couldn’t control them.
Stewart learned to loosen up, though, and became just as silly as the rest of the cast, all of whom were also known for bursting into song during breaks.
At a Comic Con NY panel, moderator William Shatner was astonished when the TNG cast told him that they’d be singing show tunes right up until the time the director yelled, “Action!”
Stewart also told O’Brien that these days, no matter what he’s working on, he’s the “silliest one on the set.”
Remember when Worf reunited with a lost love and then they had a kid and then she passed away and then he brought his son onto the ship? His lover was named K’Ehleyr, and played by Suzie Plakson. There she is standing next to him, but looking mysteriously un-Klingon like.
Star Trek is famous for creating new characters for guest stars they liked, and Suzie Plakson ended up playing four different roles across three Trek series.
Dr. Selar, seen above, was her first one. She’d been doing a one-woman show and the TNG casting agent saw it and asked her to audition to play a doctor. She didn’t know she’d be playing a Vulcan until her agent told her, “They want you to come in next week and get measured for your ears.”
After playing Selar in “The Schizoid Man”, she came back later that same season to play K’Ehleyr, returning as the same character in the fourth season only to get cut off.
After that, she played a Q on Voyager and an Andorian on Enterprise.
Plakson and Dorn had great chemistry, which is what made her appearances as K’Ehleyr so memorable and their relationship so believable and beloved by fans — and you can see these two actors were connecting even when she was still a Vulcan.
Was Odo a Trill?
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine viewers will remember this episode just by the spots. In the third season episode “Facets”, Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) gets to meet all of her previous hosts as her friends each lend their bodies to them for the Trill rite of closure, zhian’tara.
She asked Odo to be Curzon Dax, former bestie of Benjamin Sisko, and since Odo’s a shapeshifter, he took on some of Curzon’s facial characteristics, including his distinctive Trill spots.
Actor René Auberjonois would spend two and a half hours getting his face put on as Odo, and then he’d have to wear it for what were often very long shoot days.
He was always eager to remove it when the day was done, telling a fan on Twitter, “I pulled the face off as soon as they called a wrap. Loved the makeup… not so crazy about wearing it for 14 hours.”
The effect when he removed his mask was pretty terrifying, as you can see above.
In 2014, he auctioned off some of his Odo masks to raise money for the charity Doctors Without Borders, which is what led to the Twitter Q&A in which he also told fans, “I think all Changelings wore a version of my mask.The different faces underneath made the difference.”
Hey, that’s Bill Mumy. Mumy was first known to TV audiences as a child star, terrifying audiences when he sent people to the cornfield on The Twilight Zone and charming them as young Will Robinson on the original Lost in Space.
In the 1960s, when Star Trek was pitched to CBS (which is now the home of Star Trek: Discovery and the owner of the rights to the TV franchise) the network rejected it, feeling that Lost in Space was all they needed in terms of sci-fi.
When Mumy got the chance to guest star on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he asked if he could play a human, since he’d already spent five seasons of Babylon 5 in full alien makeup as Lennier, a Minbari.
As a friend of executive producer Ira Steven Behr, he scored the role of Crewman Kellin in the show’s final season in the episode “The Siege of AR-558”, taking the role without even reading the script first.
When his character met his early demise, Behr announced on a megaphone to cast and crew that “Star Trek just [destroyed] Will Robinson.”
As a true fan, even before his DS9 appearance, Mumy had co-written three issues of the DC TOS volume 2 series of comics.
Jason Alexander is a major league Star Trek fan, and has been from the get-go: he says it was William Shatner’s portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk that made him get into acting in the first place.
He was very vocal about being a fan and when TNG and then Deep Space Nine aired, producers knew it and would offer him guest roles.
The problem: as much as he wanted to be a part of the franchise, all the parts they offered were humans, and true nerd that he is, he wanted to be an alien, so he turned them down.
Then Star Trek: Voyager came calling, with a role in the fifth season episode “Think Tank”. Their pitch: “How would you like to be the smartest guy in the galaxy?”
Alexander played Kurros, a member of an unspecified race with a slightly Klingon-like forehead who was the spokesperson for a group of intellectuals who traded their problem-solving skills for goods and services.
He spent three hours in the makeup chair for his role, and thought his kids would enjoy seeing their dad as an alien, so he invited them to the studio to see him.
His son told him he looked “like snot.” Nevertheless, Alexander says he loved every minute of being on the show, and on the ship.
In the fourth season of Star Trek: Voyager, a new main character was introduced: Seven of Nine, played by Jeri Ryan. Two weeks after she was cast, she was already famous to Trekkies, with web pages springing up about her and information already out about what she’d be wearing.
Intitially, the costume was so tight that it made her black out, so they fixed it up, but she still reported that “comfort is a relative term in Star Trek,” and the outfit was “rather snug,” “a feat of engineering,” “not very forgiving,” and more like “body paint.”
“I’ve basically kissed food goodbye,” she also said.
For a behind-the-scenes video, she tried to explain what her Borg prosthetics were, describing her eyepiece as “residual” from the “little laser” that had been on her eye as a full Borg and admitting that she had no idea what the piece on her cheek was for.
“There used to be some plate over my head and this is what was left after that,” she speculated.
Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway) thought Seven of Nine was a brilliantly written character and praised Ryan’s performance, but also had thoughts about the outfit, describing it as a “Vegas silver suit” and saying that she knew the ratings would go up as soon as she saw it.
Despite the happy look on actress Jolene Blalock’s face, this wasn’t one of Star Trek: Enterprise‘s happier storylines. T’Pol did not have many joyful moments with her child, and certainly never broke out into the smile seen in the photo above.
The baby was actually the product of T’Pol and Trip Tucker, after their bio-samples were “obtained” by a Terra Prime agent. This all went down in a two-part episode (“Demons” and “Terra Prime”) that were the last regular shows to air before the series finale, “These Are The Voyages…”, which took place long after the rest of the events seen in the show.
Writers and producers said that while the episode “Terra Prime” was in development, they weren’t sure if the baby would live or not, and decided to base the outcome on the show itself: if it went to a fifth season, the baby would live.
The show was canceled, however, and poor Elizabeth didn’t make it either.
Her parents gave her the full name Elizabeth T’Les Tucker, named after Trip’s sister and T’Pol’s mother, and mourned her loss together. Connor Trinneer (Tucker) said that final scene was especially emotional for him, as he’d just learned that his wife was pregnant.
Fans of Scott Bakula (Captain Jonathan Archer on Star Trek: Enterprise) know that the actor is a big hockey fan. He played it as a kid on the pond behind his house, when it was frozen enough, and has been a huge St. Louis Blues fan his entire life.
Once he became a celebrity, he not only played with other actors, but also got the chance to play with NHL players.
“I played in L.A. a lot with a lot of the guys from the Kings. I used to go to the ice and play all the time. I played celebrity games with Steve Duchesne and I played celebrity games with him and Luc Robitaille and guys like Chris Chelios and Marty McSorley. I know all those guys and I’m a big, big fan of hockey players who are great, great guys.” he told Hockey News.
One of the players he used to hang out with was Luc Robitalle, who signed with the Detroit Red Wings beginning in the 2001-2002 season.
Robitalle had been offered more money by other teams, but he figured the Red Wings had the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup. He was right. They won the season, and his old buddy Bakula got his chance to hold the Stanley Cup… while in his Enterprise uniform.
After Enterprise was canceled in 2005, there was no Star Trek on TV anymore for the first time since 1987. Then, in 2017, along came a brand new series, Star Trek: Discovery.
Fans argued about whether it adhered to canon, freaked out when they saw the new look for the Klingons (forgetting all the new looks that had come before), and whether they were thrilled with it or furious about it, they watched it, taking their battles to forums and social media.
A lot of the show’s first season was about the Klingon-Federation war, and one of the more intense moments of the season came in the episode “Into The Forest I Go”.
Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Tyler (Shazad Latif) sneak aboard a Klingon ship and find the barely-alive Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) and a hopeless L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) abandoned in a Klingon graveyard chamber. With them in the chamber? A pile of corpses from House T’Kuvma.
The scene required a lot of bodies, and so the production crew made up a series of Klingon body dummies.
They needed to keep them in proper condition when they weren’t in use, so they were put on this rack, where they hung creepily. Writer and executive story editor Bo Yeon Kim just couldn’t resist snapping this photo.
What do Klingons and Kelpiens have in common? Major league prosthetics that make it impossible for them to eat real food during shoot days.
Mary Chieffo (L’Rell) and Kenneth Mitchell (Kol) told After Trek that there’s someone on set with the job title “Klingon Nutritionist” who made special smoothies that kept all the Klingons hydrated and full of the nutrients they needed to get through the day.
There’s one thing about Discovery that is just like The Next Generation: the way the cast adores each other.
Each week, when the show hit CBS All Access, the cast would gather and watch it together, either in Toronto when they were still filming or in New York or LA, wherever they were based.
So while Klingons and Kelpiens were enemies on the show, the actors who played them got along beautifully behind the scenes.
Mary Chieffo tweeted the photo above, with the caption, “‘Kelpien/Klingon Smoothie Break’ Having admired
@actordougjones from afar, getting to work on such challenging scenes with him was an absolute thrill. Thank you, Dougie, for your generosity of spirit and talent.”
Kelpien makeup is no less challenging than Klingon, and even though Doug Jones has had years of experience with them (The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Hocus Pocus, Falling Skies), he still needs to eat — and be loved — just like everybody else.
Star Trek (starting with The Next Generation) is known for having little Easter eggs and jokes sprinkled all over the set.
“Okudagrams,” as they were known (named for Michael Okuda), were the displays seen all over the 24th century starships and often had references to characters and places both real and fictional. There’s one, for example, that’s a M*A*S*H tribute, with Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce transporting personnel to Captain B.J. Hunnicutt.
The Discovery production team is having fun as well, naming characters and objects after their own familiar icons and friends. Mudd’s little prison pal/pet Stuart, for example, was named by writer Ted Sullivan as a tribute to Stuart Bloom from The Big Bang Theory.
On the USS Shenzhou, the first ship we really get to know in the Discovery pilot, Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) has a stack of books in her ready room.
You never get a close look at them onscreen, but this set photo reveals that the title of every single one is also the name of a Star Trek original series episode.
This fun easter egg messes up not just the timeline, since Kirk’s adventures on the Enterprise don’t begin for another ten years, but also the line between fiction and non-fiction.
Remember that great scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home when Kirk and Spock are on a bus and there’s some punk playing loud music that annoys everyone? Kirk tells him to turn it off, the punk gives Kirk the finger, so Spock neck pinches him.
That punk was played by Kirk Thatcher, and he was director Leonard Nimoy’s assistant on the movie. When he showed up on set with a punk-themed outfit and an orange mohawk, the first person he ran into in his new garb was DeForest Kelley (McCoy), who looked him up and down and said in his familiar drawl, “Nice shoes.”
Thatcher himself co-wrote the terrible song (called “I Hate You”), which appears on the movie soundtrack. He’s a writer (Emmy-winning), and remembers his days as Nimoy’s assistant on The Voyage Home fondly.
“He was like an uncle to me,” he said. “He was a very calming presence. He had his big office overlooking Paramount, and at the end of the day, he’d pour himself a big gin-and-tonic with a lot of ice, and we’d sit there and chat. It was one of the highlights of my life and career.”
Also, Thatcher reprised his role in Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017, lugging around a boombox. Producer Kevin Feige was a fan.
They played enemies on screen, but obviously got along well between takes. Pictured above are Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan), director of photography John A. Alonzo, and Malcolm McDowell (Soran), all on the set of Star Trek Generations.
It was this movie in which Captain Kirk came to his end, at the hand of the Nexus-craving Dr. Soran.
McDowell, an uncle of Deep Space Nine‘s Alexander Siddig (Bashir), was thrilled to get the part. “when I read the script I thought Soran was an interesting and wonderful character, and obviously he would ultimately be given the honor of pulling the trigger that kills the good Captain Kirk. I’d immediately become a trivia question at Star Trek conventions all over the globe.”
He did get threats from some obsessed fans, but he didn’t didn’t sweat it, and described the whole experience as “a delight.”
As for Goldberg, despite her crucial role as the character who connects the two time periods and explains the Nexus to Picard, she went uncredited.
She was one of the more prestigious actors on the movie, having been nominated for two Oscars and won one, and rumor has it she didn’t want to overshadow co-stars William Shatner and Patrick Stewart. (She went uncredited on Nemesis as well.)
This was probably one of the easier sequences for actress Alice Krige to film for Star Trek: First Contact.
The first full-on Next Gen movie, First Contact was directed by Jonathan Frakes (TNG‘s Riker) and introduced us to the Borg Queen for the first time. (She’d later resurface on Voyager.)
Krige’s full costume was a daily ordeal: it included contact lenses that couldn’t be worn for more than a few minutes at a time, and a rubber suit so constricting that her hands and feet swelled up so severely that she couldn’t get back into it after a break. They made her a new one immediately.
She had a team of “Borg wranglers,” an entourage comprised of different people in charge of, respectively, her contact lenses, her battery pack, glue for whenever the costume split, and the separate costume pieces for her hands and feet, makeup.
This also inlucdedone person who had a sponge and K-Y jelly, which she said they were constantly rubbing her down with to make her “glossy.”
For this shot, however, she didn’t need the body suit, and simply had to float down on a large crane, wrapped in blue fabric that was edited it out later.
All she had to do was lean forward into the prosthetic. (There’s a fascinating making-of video about shooting her first scene on YouTube.)
When J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek movies, the big news was about Leonard Nimoy, who played an older version of Spock who eventually meets up with his younger self (Zachary Quinto).
However, he’s the only original series actor to turn up, so what’s up with this photo of the two Chekovs, Anton Yelchin and Walter Koenig?
It turns out that some other Trek vets were invited to the set during filming.
Among them were Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and Walter Koenig. He spent a few hours with Yelchin, and was incredibly impressed by the young man.
“I knew I was in the presence of a gifted performer,” he said. “What I learned that day was how bright and sensitive he was. I walked away thinking — this is a good person.”
He also gave Yelchin some advice. ” I just told Anton to make it his own and not worry about any history, that there’s nothing here that was sacrosanct. I told him he is a different actor with a different perspective and that he should embrace the role as if he created it.”
Tragically, Yelchin passed away in an accident on June 19, 2016 at age 27. “My heart goes out to his mother and father,” said Koenig. “I know what you’re going through.” (Koenig’s son Andrew passed away in 2010.)
This green screen shot from Star Trek Beyond eventually became the scene where Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) takes new buddy Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) to the roof of her “house,” which is actually the USS Franklin.
These green screen scenes were filmed in British Columbia, and when the photos were released, they gave fans their first glimpse of both the new uniforms, and Sofia Boutella as Jaylah.
Jaylah quickly became popular, with her combination of humor (“Come now, Montgomery Scotty”), engineering prowess, and general ability to kick butt.
Her character was added to the movie by writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung and director Justin Lin, who wanted to add another female character.
Pegg and Jung kept referring to her as “Jennifer Lawrence’s character from Winter’s Bone.” They got tired of saying that long phrase every time they talked about her, and shortened it to J-Law, as a joke. Eventually they realized it was a good fit, and adjusted it to Jaylah.
Justin Lin described what they were aiming for: “We thought it would be nice to have a character who can feel the full effect of what it means to be a part of this Federation and this group of people. To adopt their sort of unifying way in which they look at who they are.”
Over the years, Star Trek characters have changed, time periods have changed, uniforms have changed, and technology has changed, but one thing remained consistent: nobody except Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact, has ever peed.
Is this the reason the uniforms never seemed to have a fly? Regardless, it looks like Kelvin timeline pants have them, because Bruce Greenwood (Christopher Pike) is clearly adjusting his situation here.
Amusingly, the uniform was one of the things Greenwood was worried about before he started filming 2009’s Star Trek he told MTV News.
Months before shooting started, that he was terrified of being given “a speedo with epaulets,” but then added that he figured they’d look somewhat familiar. “”I think there will be a certain nod to the ’60s,” he said.
Greenwood was actually the third actor to play Pike. First was Jeffrey Hunter, who played him in Star Trek‘s first pilot, “The Cage”.
The second was Sean Kenney, who played the Pike who was confined to a wheelchair in the two-part epiode “The Menagerie” and could only communicate via beeps on the chair.
Now there’s a fourth one on the way, with Anson Mount playing him on Star Trek: Discovery when the new season starts. Let’s hope for his sake that his pants have a fly.
What do you think of these photos? Are there any other behind-the-scenes Star Trek pictures that fans need to see? Let us know which was your favorite photo in the comments!
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on ScreenRant?
Get Your Free Access Now!