Uhura orders “Mister Adventure” to “get in the closet” (Star Trek III)
Nichelle Nichols didn’t get too many big moments in the original cast’s silver screen voyages.
Sure, she got to share a comical quest with Chekov for the “nuclear wessels” in Alameda in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, but Walter Koenig gets far more screen time and all the laughs in that storyline. And, granted, she got to rummage frantically through hardbound Klingon dictionaries in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country because, suddenly and inexplicably, the universal translator isn’t up to making conversations sound naturally convincing. And, OK, she got to do a nude fan dance in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier—a big moment, I suppose, but not one of Uhura’s, or the film’s, or the franchise’s best.
All of which leaves Uhura’s exchange with “Mister Adventure” (Scott McGinnis) in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as her highwater mark in the original cast’s movies. But what a wonderful moment it is! If you haven’t watched the scene recently, do yourself a favor and click the video above.
Appreciate how Nichols delivers her line about “peace and quiet” with a silky, nearly seductive tone, as if softening up this uptight young lieutenant for what she knows is about to happen. Watch how she warningly arches those eyebrows when he makes his crack about her “career winding down.” Admire how she casually chats with him while entering the transporter coordinates for Kirk, McCoy, and Sulu. And be thrilled all over again when she pulls a phaser on the would-be Starfleet snitch and waves him into the closet. (Didn’t know they still had those in the 23rd century, but it turns out to be a good thing they do.)
Granted, threatening a fellow officer with a weapon, even one surely set only to stun, may not be the most professional move. I imagine it’s included with Sulu’s “Don’t call me Tiny” shoulder toss in that charge of “assault on Federation officers” we hear leveled against the crew in Star Trek IV.
But it’s by far Uhura’s best movie moment, and Nichelle Nichols plays it—as she always played Uhura, regardless of how much or how little a script gave her to do—to perfection.