Though highly regarded in Star Trek’s original film franchise, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home could have been a very different film entirely. Directed by the late Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed fan favorite Spock, the film went through many different phases with its script and casting. Eddie Murphy, in the early stages of his meteoric rise to stardom, was even attached to co-star. Unhappy with his character, Murphy left the film to make The Golden Child instead (Murphy noted his regret for this decision later on).
There’s been much speculation throughout the years as to who Murphy’s character would have been (he reportedly wanted to play either an alien race or a Starfleet officer, so it was safe to rule those options out) but nothing concrete. Now, 30 years after the original release of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the details of Murphy’s scrapped role have finally been revealed.
As reported by THR, one half of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’s original screenwriting team, Steve Meerson, recently opened up about his experiences during the production of the film. Detailing between 7 and 10 script rewrites, Meerson touched on the specifics of Murphy’s character, describing him as an astrophysicist working at Berkley. This character was eventually combined with another unused character, resulting in Catherine Hicks’ Doctor Gillian Taylor in the finished product. Meerson’s full answer on Murphy’s involvement is available below:
"It was always the same story that [was] 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."
Given that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was the most profitable Star Trek film up until J.J. Abrams’ reboot in 2009, it’s easy to imagine just how much more money it would have made with the star power of ‘80s Murphy attached to the project. It’s also important to note that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was actually more profitable than The Golden Child, so it could have potentially been the right career move for the comedian at the time. Either way, his career obviously didn’t suffer from his decision to exit the film, as Murphy had a string of box office hits throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Not only was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home a financial success, it proved to be a favorite amongst certain fans for its time travel elements and more light-hearted approach in comparison with its predecessor, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. With this in mind, some fans might consider Murphy’s exit from the film a blessing in disguise, as it eventually led to such a highly regarded entry in the series. Even so, it’s easy to imagine that Murphy would have fit in nicely with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and its more light and comedic tone.