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‘Star Trek’ 50th Anniversary Exclusive: Gene Roddenberry’s Letter to ‘Wrath of Khan’ Producer for Project 366

Harve Bennett learns just what makes "Star Trek" tick in this letter full of gems for any Trekker.

"Star Trek Ii: The Wrath Of Khan," Ricardo Montalban, Walter Koenig, Paul Winfield

Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

What is the secret to the enduring success of “Star Trek”? Any fan can tell you that it’s the creative and humanitarian vision of its creator Gene Roddenberry.

This is no more apparent than in a letter Roddenberry sent to Paramount Pictures’ Harve Bennett, who was hired to take over the “Star Trek” motion picture franchise after the first film. Bennett, who was taken with the character of Khan from the series’ episode “Space Seed,” proposed a story called “The Genesis Project” that would become the basis for “The Wrath of Khan.”

READ MORE: ‘Star Trek’: 50 Years of Films and TV, Ranked From Worst to Best

Roddenberry was not pleased with the first draft, since many elements went against all things “Star Trek” holds dear. As part of Project 366, Roddenberry Entertainment is releasing never-before-seen “Star Trek” content from the archives, including this exclusive-to-IndieWire letter from Roddenberry to Bennett in 1981. Here’s the first page of the letter, on Enterprise letterhead, naturally.

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett - Page 1

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett – Page 1

Roddenberry Entertainment

In the letter, it’s apparent that Bennett has a lot to learn about what makes “Star Trek” tick, including the believability of the science, three-dimensional villains, the forward-thinking mindset of evolved humanity and more. While the whole nine pages of the letter ooze passion, there are fascinating bits in there for diehard Trekkers that dig into how Khan and Kirk would actually fight and even funny parts in which Roddenberry refers to Kirk’s son David as a “young idiot” and “hopeless ninny.”

READ MORE: ‘Star Trek’ Wants to Regulate Fan Culture, But It’s Not Going to Be Easy

Gene Roddenberry

Gene Roddenberry

Roddenberry Entertainment/Douglas Kirkland/CORBIS

Another gem can be found when Roddenberry notes,“Because something or someone looks or acts differently from us does not necessarily mean that it is ugly or bad.” He then cites the episode “Devil in the Dark,” which just happens to be one of the episodes that Roddenberry’s son Rod told IndieWire is among his favorite of all time.

Ultimately, as the lore goes, Jack B. Sowards was hired on to rewrite the “Wrath of Khan” story and even saved the “Star Trek” franchise by convincing Leonard Nimoy, who wanted to leave Spock behind for good after the second film, to stay on.

Read the rest of the letter below to get a picture of Roddenberry’s passionate vision, and be sure to check Roddenberry Entertainment’s Facebook page for more Project 366 exclusive photos, memos, scripts and more commemorating “Star Trek’s” 50th anniversary every day this year.

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett - Page 2

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett – Page 2

Roddenberry Entertainment

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett - Page 3

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett – Page 3

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett - Page 4

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett – Page 4

Roddenberry Entertainment

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett - Page 5

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett – Page 5

Roddenberry Entertainment

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett - Page 6

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett – Page 6

Roddenberry Entertainment

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett - Page 7

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett – Page 7

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett - Page 8

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett – Page 8

Roddenberry Entertainment

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett - Page 9

Project 366: Gene Roddenberry letter to Harve Bennett – Page 9

Roddenberry Entertainment

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