The casting directors for the original Trek movies had half the work already done for them. It was pretty clear that Shatner, Nimoy, Nichols, Doohan, Kelley, Takei and Koenig were going to be onboard the Enterprise.
Still, there were other roles — Federation, allies and villains — to fill. And when it came time to reboot the franchise, well, there were big shoes to fill. Unsurprisingly, some major Hollywood feet were considered.
Let's take a look at six acclaimed leading men who nearly nabbed a place in Star Trek lore.
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Eddie Murphy does not have a fantastic track record with science-fiction, mostly due to the titanic turkey The Adventures of Pluto Nash, which derailed his hot streak in 2002. However, a couple decades earlier, hot off Saturday Night Live and Beverly Hills Cop, the iconic comedian was rumored to appear in Star Trek IV, the movie that saw the Enterprise crew in modern-day America. However, it was mostly fan conjecture. Leonard Nimoy addressed the rumors in a 1985 interview with Starlog: "[Fans] know [Murphy] has a multi-picture deal with Paramount. They know he is a big Star Trek fan. They know Trek IV is in preparation at Paramount." Trekkies feared it would have been a Richard Pryor-meets-Superman scenario, as seen in Superman III. Murphy was filming The Golden Child on the same lot as Trek IV was in production. It later came out that Murphy considered playing both a small Klingon role and a major character, an oddball (dare we say "nutty"?) professor who believes aliens exist.
Image: The Adventures of Pluto Nash / Warner Bros. Pictures
William Shatner campaigned to get the former James Bond in the role of Sybok, the god-seeking antagonist in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Even the mythical location of Sha Ka Ree in the film was a phonetic play in "Sean Connery." However, the Scottish star had a conflict in his schedule — he was booked to appear in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. We have to admit he made the right choice.
Image: The Hunt for Red October / Paramount Pictures
The venerable thespian was approached to play Tolian Soran in Generations, a role that eventually went to Malcolm McDowell. His fee was too steep. Instead, audiences got to see him in Don Juan DeMarco.
Image: Superman / Warner Bros.
Zefram Cochrane is a massive figure in the Trek universe. He is the man who gave humans warp speed flight and first contact with aliens. No wonder that Paramount sought a beloved actor to fill the role in Star Trek: First Contact. However, Hanks, an admitted Trek fan, had his hands full with his directorial debut, That Thing You Do!
Image: Apollo 13 / Universal Pictures
After winning an Academy Award for Best Actor, you get your pick of roles. The Pianist star later revealed he was in talks with J.J. Abrams to play Spock in the 2009 franchise reboot, Star Trek. Zachary Quinto, as we know, landed the gig, but we can't help but wonder what it would have been like with Brody. He would make a solid logical alien. Brody instead took on aliens in Predators in 2010.
Image: Predators / 20th Century Fox
Starlord as Kirk? Why not? There are certainly some character similarities — swagger, sarcasm, good looks. Pratt auditioned for the lead role that eventually went to Chris Pine. (It had to be one of the Chrises, statistically speaking.) At the time, remember, he was essentially an unknown. His breakout role in Parks and Recreation (2009–2015) came afterward.
Image: Guardians of the Galaxy / Marvel