Hilarious Star Trek Movie Moment Happened Thanks To One Actor’s Mistake

By Jessica Goudreault | Updated

Layla Sarakalo in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

For decades, some Star Trek fans have been intrigued and puzzled by one accidental line that was delivered by a “mystery woman” in 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The mystery around this urban legend has since been solved and was shared by CBR. It turns out that the woman who delivered the line actually did so by mistake.

Layla Sarakalo, a bystander to the filming of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, was the mysterious woman that gave Chekov directions, accidentally creating an iconic moment.

The mystery woman, who was identified as Layla Sarakalo, appeared as an extra during one scene in the Star Trek film. The scene takes place in San Francisco, where Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) are trapped and trying to find their way to the city of Alameda. They need to get to Alameda to use nuclear vessels to power their ships and send them back home to the future.

The scene in itself is very funny because Chekov has a thick Russian accent that makes the word “vessels” sound more like “wessels,” which adds even more confusion to their situation. The Star Trek characters are asking random people on the street where Alameda is, and where they can find the nuclear “wessels.” Everyone they ask just looks at them with a confused expression and continues on their way, except for one woman: Layla Sarakalo.

When the two Star Trek alumni ask Layla where they can find the nuclear vessels in Alameda, she responds by saying that she thinks they are across the bay in Alameda. Chekov shrugs his shoulders and repeats, “that’s what I said, Alameda,” in a defeated yet comical tone.

The story behind this scene is that the city towed Layla’s car when it was in the way of the Star Trek production. Oblivious to the fact that there was a major motion picture being filmed in her neighborhood, Layla was shocked to find her car was towed. To help earn some extra cash to get her car back, she got a job as an extra on the set.

Layla was on the set of Star Trek IV after her car was towed for interfering with the production and accepting the job of an extra to get it back from the impound lot.

Despite never acting before, Layla was ready to join the cast of other Star Trek extras. While the other extras did not respond or engage with Chekov and Uhura during the scene, Layla just acted naturally (as advised by the assistant director) and responded to Chekov when he asked her where Alameda was. Even though she wasn’t supposed to say anything, the crew loved the moment and decided to keep it in the final cut of the film.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

During a lunch break on set, Layla joined the Screen Actors Guild, a membership reserved only for those who have lines in a film. Her line in the Star Trek movie has lived on in infamy, and yet did not inspire her to become a Hollywood star. It wasn’t until many years later that she came forward to declare she was the “mystery woman,” and at the time she was running a small fashion house in Paris.

Told to “act naturally,” Layla accidentally responded to Chekov’s question, which required her to become a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild because now she had a spoken line in Star Trek IV.

The fun fact is a good reminder to keep your eye on film extras who only share a line or two, because they could be the next Hollywood star, like Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt, or Matt Damon.