Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (arguably the best of the Star Trek films) had time travel, a mission to save the whales, and that now infamous punk kid — and it almost had a role for Eddie Murphy. Screenwriter Steve Meerson discussed what happened in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where he explained how Murphy was eventually replaced by Catherine Hicks.
Meerson worked on the screenplay with his writing partner Peter Krikes along with Harve Bennett and Nicholas Meyer from a story by Bennett and Leonard Nimoy. As he told THR, “It was always the same story that approved, but the original draft included a part for Eddie Murphy. Eddie was on the lot at Paramount at the time and arguably was the biggest star in the word. They had told us he was a huge Star Trek fan.”
Murphy would’ve played an astrophysicist at Berkeley, but when his casting deal fell through, the writers worked in the character Dr. Gillian Taylor, the marine biologist (and Captain Kirk love interest) played by Hicks.
“At the beginning of the process, it was actually a lot of fun,” Meerson recalled. “As the process progressed, it became less fun, because it became more political. And I don’t say that with any bitterness. It’s just the way things work in all businesses. We began to feel like at a certain point that this was going to be taken away from us, which in fact, it was.”
Meyer had previously addressed Murphy’s lost role on 50 Years of Star Trek. “They had had a script written tailor-made to star Eddie Murphy, who was Paramount’s other big star at the time,” he said (via Yahoo Movies). “Paramount didn’t like the idea of putting all their golden eggs in one basket, Eddie Murphy and the Star Trek people.”
The Voyage Home was directed by Nimoy, who also reprised his role of Spock opposite William Shatner’s Captain Kirk. The story focused on the Enterprise crew traveling back in time to 1986 San Francisco to find the only creatures capable of communicating with an alien probe: humpback whales.