Last week marked the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 classic Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which, before the 2009 reboot, was the highest-grossing movie in franchise history, and the only one to cross $100 million domestic ($109.7 million). While this sci-fi sequel was certainly a hit at the box office, it could have been an ever bigger hit, since it almost landed one of the biggest movie stars in the world at that time, Eddie Murphy. During a new interview for the 30th Anniversary, screenwriter Steve Meerson revealed that the comedian was nearly cast in the franchise sequel.
Steve Meerson, who co-wrote the movie with his writing partner Peter Krikes, explained to The Hollywood Reporter that the studio had always wanted a movie that would “make a statement about the environment,” and director Leonard Nimoy, producer Harve Bennett and the studio wanted to have whales and possibly time travel involved. The writers went through between 7 and 10 outlines for the story, with the final one getting approved by the studio, which had a role in place for Eddie Murphy. Here’s what Steve Meerson had to say about the story.
“It was always the same story that got 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 world. They had told us he was a huge Star Trek fan.”
The writer also revealed that Eddie Murphy was set to play an “astrophysicist at Berkeley,” and at the time the story didn’t include the Dr. Gillian Taylor character, played by Catherine Hicks. When Eddie Murphy’s deal fell through, the Dr. Gillian Taylor character, a marine biologist and love interest to Captain Kirk (William Shatner), was added into the script. Here’s what Steve Meerson had to say about how the writing process became more “political.”
“At the beginning of the process, it was actually a lot of fun. 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.”
In the end, Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes received screenplay credit for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, but Nicholas Meyer, who wrote and directed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, came aboard to rewrite the script with producer Harve Bennett. Despite rumors that Nicholas Meyer heavily rewrote the script, Steve Meerson believes that Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett didn’t make any drastic changes, which is why Meerson and Krikes received top billing over Meyer and Bennett, which was decided in arbitration by the Writers Guild of America. Steve Meerson also wrote Back to the Beach, Double Impact and Anna and the King, and he also served as a co-executive producer on director Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers.