A Marvel Star Wrote The Funniest Line In Star Trek IV

By Michileen Martin | Published

kirk thatcher star trek

Kirk Thatcher–who played the monster hunter Joshua Jovan in Marvel‘s Werewolf by Night–not only enjoyed perhaps the best cameo ever in 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, but he wrote the funniest moment in the flick. Remember when Scotty tries and fails to operate a 1980’s computer by talking to it? Thanks to Thatcher’s ideas, the scene became one of the funniest in the franchise.

Collider recently sat down with Kirk Thatcher and while they focused on his appearance in Werewolf by Night, they also talked about his work on Star Trek. Among other things, Thatcher–who was an associate producer on Star Trek IV–revealed that he was the one who came up with the still legendary “Hello computer” gag. Part of his inspiration was the Apple 512 Mac he’d just bought.

The Star Trek scene Kirk Thatcher wrote takes place as different members of the heroic crew, stuck in the 20th century, find different materials they’ll need to get back to the future. Scotty (James Doohan) and McCoy (DeForest Kelley) trade the formula for transparent aluminum for the materials they’ll need to transport the humpback whales with them to the 23rd century. When Scotty tries to operate a 20th century computer to demonstrate his knowledge of transparent aluminum, as you can see in the clip below, he runs into a bit of a snag.

“So the whole thing was, they said, ‘Well we’re going to have the design thing done on a Macintosh because it’s a graphic computer,'” Kirk Thatcher recalled of the classic Star Trek moment. “I said… ‘He should talk to the computer because he doesn’t know. He’d just be like, ‘Hello computer,’ it doesn’t do anything.'”

“And then Alex Henteloff [who plays Dr. Nichols, the plant manager] goes, ‘Well use the mouse.’ So he thinks it’s a microphone because they look like a microphone. So that was my gag that got in the movie, and Leonard [Nimoy] loved it.”

That wasn’t the only memorable contribution Kirk Thatcher made to Star Trek IV either. When Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) use the bus to get to the aquarium, Thatcher plays a punk rocker who refuses to turn down his music. Spock uncharacteristically gets physical and knocks the punk out with his signature nerve pinch.

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Kirk Thatcher as “Punk on Bus” in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

In fact, Kirk Thatcher got the chance to reprise the role in Season 2 of Star Trek: Picard. In Episode 4, “Watcher,” Thatcher’s punk is once again blasting his music while utilizing public transportation, but it’s Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) who objects to the volume of his listening material this time around. Clearly traumatized by what the Vulcan did to him decades before, Thatcher’s punk agrees to turn the music down and apologizes meekly.

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Kirk Thatcher again being inconsiderate on the bus in Star Trek: Picard

In spite of wearing quite a few hats in Hollywood — producer, writer, actor, creature designer, etc. — Kirk Thatcher has never managed to escape that classic Star Trek cameo. He made a similar cameo in a completely different cinematic narrative, playing “Punk on Street” in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.