Robert Wise is an insanely talented filmmaker (and as worldly as his name suggests) but he's probably the last guy you would have expected to direct a Star Trek film.
Wise began his career in the 1930s and worked in practically every aspect of the film business. He edited Citizen Kane, for example, which earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Editing in 1941.
He would later win Best Picture and Best Director twice with West Side Story and The Sound of Music.
Yeah, we know what you're thinking—how did this musical director end up working on the hardest of all hard sci-fi? Your guess is as good as ours. Paramount tapped several directors, including Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, before choosing Wise, who had never been a fan of Star Trek.
To get him up to speed, they made him binge-watch a bunch of the best episodes from the original series. That's the kind of preliminary research we can get behind.
Despite this, you couldn't find a more experienced hand to captain such a rickety ship. As noted in the Production Studio section, Star Trek: The Motion Picture went through countless production delays and was nearly shuttered many times over. Things were pretty chaotic, but we bet they would've been a lot worse without Wise in charge.