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'Star Trek: Wrath of Khan' director: Quit asking if Ricardo Montalban's chest is fake

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It's been 35 years since Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was released in theaters, but one question about the classic Star Trek film never dies.

Was Ricardo Montalbán's impossibly impressive chest the real thing — or was it some kind of chest prosthetic?

Montalbán, who plays the villain Khan Noonien Singh in the 1982 film, practically busts out of his costume. Keep in mind that the Fantasy Island star turned 62 the year the film came out. Fans have long insisted that his chest must have been fake, a debate that's bound to resurface now that Wrath of Khan is returning to theaters with Fathom Events for anniversary screenings on Sept. 10 and 13.

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Wrath of Khan director Nicholas Meyer is tired of insisting: That chest was all Montalbán.

"I have been asked this question 23,472 times," Meyer tells USA TODAY. "I stopped answering it at 71.

"I find it a curious question. I don’t even understand what prompts it," he adds.

What prompts it? Seriously. No idea? Two big reasons: That massive left pec and huge right pec.

Even Meyer can only give respect for the physical specimen that was Montalbán, who died in 2009 at age 88, when he played the genetically engineered superhuman Khan.

"The guy was in great shape," the director says.

Meyer was blown away when he met his star in person before filming and might have been the first to ask this undying question. "I noticed it the first time, even I said, 'Is that really your chest?' " 

Now we're talking.

He says he didn't inquire how Montalbán worked himself into that shape. He knew that the star was focused on his fitness long before it was all the rage for actors. 

"I never asked," Meyer says. "I just copped a feel."

OK, that just got weird.

Montalbán's Khan remains one of the great Star Trek villains of all time. Even fellow cast members such as the late Leonard Nimoy (Spock) and George Takei (Sulu) were mesmerized, as this clip shows.

But, seriously, people. Now you know the answer. Stop asking.