Star Trek fans remember Persis Khambatta as Ilia from The Motion Picture.
We’ve talked before about how Persis Khambatta really had a unique look as the Deltan Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Her bald head and unique 70s inspired dress-uniform were one of the most memorable aspects of the film. As a new character, her look made her stand out and she became iconic, if just for her fashion and look alone.
What fans may not know is that Khmabatta wasn’t meant to play Ilia on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but instead was set to be a major character on the ill-fated Star Trek: Phase II revival series. According to rumors, the change from the series to a film apparently upset Khambatta, who was expected to have five years’ worth of income at least, due to the contract she signed.
She became one of the few holdovers from the Phase II series that would see life on The Motion Picture, with most of the other characters either getting dropped or not having had been cast in the first place.
The pay for the film ended up being much less than the pay for five years’ worth of work, so it’d be understandable if she was upset.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture came from Star Trek: Phase II
Long-time fans may know all about Star Trek: Phase II, but newer fans may not. The idea would’ve seen the original crew reunited in the late 1970s’ to be part of a new show that would air on a Paramount-backed television network. Much like UPN and Paramount Network would end up becoming.
The series would have brought back most of the original crew to star on the show but newer characters like Khambatta’s Ilia would also be part of the series. Originally she was going to have a headdress of sorts in conjunction with the bald head for the series. There were even test shots done to help get a visual of what that would look like.
Ultimately the show folded when Paramount nixed the plans for their television station and shuffled Phase II into Star Trek: The Motion Picture. A beautiful film to look at but one that was completely devoid of a good plot.