The Eddie Murphy Star Trek Movie You’ll Never See

By Michileen Martin | 3 months ago

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In 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and his loyal crew go back in time to the 1980s in order to save the Earth of the future. That same year, Eddie Murphy led the dark fantasy comedy The Golden Child as a man fighting the forces of darkness to protect the prophesied savior of humanity. But apparently, it was Captain Kirk and co. that the former Saturday Night Live comedian wanted to be with, but things just didn’t work out.

Back in 2008, TrekMovie spoke with the late Leonard Nimoy. While Nimoy is best known as the actor who portrayed the iconic Vulcan science officer Spock, he also directed two of the Trek movies, including Star Trek IV, which is why he was in the room during discussions with Eddie Murphy about appearing in the fourth Trek film. Nimoy was called by the then head of Paramount Studios, Jeff Katzenberg, and told Eddie Murphy “would kill” to appear in Star Trek. The Spock actor said he thought having the SNL alum in the upcoming sequel was either “the best idea or the worst idea.”

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, Star Trek IV writers Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes said that a part for Eddie Murphy was written into the original draft of the film, with the actor playing an astrophysicist teaching at Berkeley. The plot was more or less the same as what fans saw in the finished product, except that the part of marine biologist Dr. Gillian Taylor (Catherine Hicks) was added later, to replace Murphy’s role. Everything else — going back in time, whales, physically assaulting punk rockers on public transportation, etc. — was the same.

Sadly, Nimoy says both the minds behind Star Trek and Eddie Murphy agreed that they couldn’t get his part to work. They parted amicably, and Murphy went on to make The Golden Child. Three years later, talking to Rolling Stone, Murphy called The Golden Child “a piece of sh*t.” While the idea of Eddie Murphy in a Trek movie is intriguing, we have to differ on the low opinion of the movie he ended up making. Without it, we would’ve been cheated out of this bit.

Though it would be interesting to see the same guy who played Beverly Hills Cop‘s Axel Foley as part of the Trek universe, the truth is that Star Trek IV did just fine without him. Financially, it was a major success, it remains one of the most critically beloved entries in the film series, and it even pulled in 4 Oscar nominations. No doubt, at the time, none of that helped Eddie Murphy’s mood when it came to looking back on his decision.

Part of what made Star Trek IV such a huge success is that it was perhaps the most accessible film in the series up to that point. Transplanted to the 20th century, the heroes weren’t contending with any aliens or hastily cobbled together scientific theories that audiences wouldn’t be able to wrap their heads around. Ironically — even though this was one of the downfalls of Star Trek: The Motion PictureStar Trek IV is one of the only films in the franchise without a charismatic villain. The only true antagonist is a probe possessed of some ill-defined intelligence that doesn’t even know it’s causing destruction.