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The Star Trek Character You Likely Didn't Know Eddie Murphy Almost Played

Eddie Murphy has been a big part of some pretty major media franchises. Leading roles in movies like 1998's "Dr. Dolittle" and 2003's "The Haunted Mansion" have cemented his status as a big name in film, especially in the comedy genre. His work as a voice actor hasn't gone under the radar either. His performances in 1998's "Mulan" and the "Shrek" movie franchise as the wisecracking dragon Mushu and the loveable sidekick Donkey, respectively, continue to endure as beloved parts of popular culture to this day. However, what many may not know is that there was once a time when the actor was set to join one of the biggest and most illustrious franchises of the modern era.

The popularity of "Star Trek" is no revelation. The galaxy-faring adventure series has captured the imagination of fans ever since the debut of the original series in 1966, and continues to expand to new reaches of the cosmos to this very day with media like "Star Trek: Picard" and "Star Trek: Lower Decks." But back in the mid-1980s, right before the franchise was about to undergo a renaissance with the debut of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Murphy himself was in deep talks to join the franchise. His entry into the universe would have come in the 1986 film "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," where he almost played a surprising character.

Murphy nearly played an astrophysicist in Star Trek IV

"Star Trek IV," for all of its praise, was a rather strange entry in the series canon. It followed the Enterprise crew led by Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Spock (Leonard Nimoy) as they traveled back in time to then-modern-day 1986 in an effort to save their universe with ... whales. Bizarre premise aside, the film also introduced a new character in the form of Dr. Gillian Taylor, played by Catherine Hicks. A marine biologist from 1986, Taylor assisted the team with their whale-related plight, struck up a romance with Kirk, and even returned with them to the 23rd century to study science. What may be surprising is that this role was originally going to be filled by Eddie Murphy — sort of.

In a 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, "Star Trek IV" screenplay co-writer Steve Meerson talked about the behind-the-scenes development of the cult classic film, including Murphy's aborted role in the project. In the early drafts of the movie's script, the actor was going to play an astrophysicist at Berkeley. Unfortunately, talks broke down and Murphy's part was reworked into Hicks' Dr. Taylor. 

While the fervent fanbase for "Star Trek IV" appreciates the movie just how it is, it's nevertheless a fun "what-if" scenario to imagine if Murphy had indeed joined the project and became a part of the franchise's history. Maybe one day, fans will see the actor make another go at entering the massive franchise. Only time will tell.