After the rather lackluster Star Trek: The Motion Picture, bringing in Trek newcomer Nicholas Meyer put the Trek movies back on the right track.
Meyer didn’t hold a high opinion of Star Trek at first. When told by a Paramount executive that he should take the job of directing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, he said, “Is that the one with the guy with pointy ears and they all wear pajamas?”
But Meyer decided to go for it after seeing the original movie and some of the television episodes. “…this reminded me of something that I really loved, and it may have taken me a while to put it together,” said Meyer. “But, what I realized was it reminded me of the books by C.S. Forester that I read when I was about thirteen or fourteen, the Captain Hornblower books. And I thought, ‘Oh, this is Hornblower in outer space. That could be a lot of fun.’ I could make my own submarine movie. And that really appealed to me.”
Dealing with William Shatner wasn’t one of Meyer’s favorite memories. “I had a good time with the cast,” said Meyer. “They were very respectful. I know that, originally, Bill Shatner didn’t like the script at all, and I was very floored by this because everybody else did like it. And I sort of listened to his complaints with mounting alarm, and the form it took was that I just kept having to get up and go to the men’s room. Just kept peeing and peeing and peeing as though I was either very humiliated or very enraged or some combination of both. When he left, I was in a real depression.”
But Harve Bennett gave Meyer some useful advice on what to do about the problem. “Harve said, ‘Well, you know, just a minute. If you parse this into bite sizes, it basically boils down that he wants to be the first man through the door.’ So, I could understand that. I went back and twenty-four hours later I’d done a rewrite, and he was very pleased.”
Other than that, “…they were remarkably open to direction,” said Meyer. And the director was the one responsible for the more military look in The Wrath of Khan. “I want it to look like a submarine. I want them to talk like they’re in the Navy.”
Fans attending Destination Star Trek 3 in London next weekend will have the rare opportunity to see Meyer in person. Meyer almost never appears at conventions.