Over its 50 year history, the Star Trek franchise has recruited a number of notable comedy stars to participate in its movies and television shows, from Christopher Lloyd and Wallace Shawn to Adam Scott and Seth MacFarlane. Back in 1986, we almost could have counted Eddie Murphy among this bunch, as he was being courted for a major role in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as the main scientist.
While speaking with THR for the 30th anniversary of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Steve Meerson, who co-wrote the movie with Peter Krikes, revealed that in the final draft, Eddie Murphy was written in as an astrophysicist at Berkeley. This was before Catherine Hicks' character, Dr. Gillian Taylor, was included in the story. According to Meerson:
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.
Unfortunately for that iteration of the movie, Eddie Murphy's deal didn't end up working out, and Catherine Hicks' Gillian Taylor was added in as the replacement scientific figure. Considering how Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home revolved around the Enterprise crew going back in time to retrieve a humpback whale, it's unusual that Murphy's character, an astrophysicist, would have played a key role. Gillian Taylor's inclusion made sense, as she was a biologist who worked with the very humpback whales the main characters would bring back with them to the 23rd century to "answer" a destructive probe signal. How would an astrophysicist have been helpful with this The article didn't reveal any additional information about Murphy's character, so we remain left in the dark.
It's possible that Murphy's character in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home wasn't involved as someone directly connected to the humpback whales, but as someone who studied the cosmos and was amazed to meet people, including an alien, from the future. That would line up with his astrophysicist job, and as the story continued, then he (humorously) would assist then in taking the whales back with them. That then begs the question of if this astrophysicist would have gone back to the future with Kirk, Spock and the rest of the gang like Gillian Taylor did. So many what ifs!
Of course, all of this happened 30 years ago, and it's unclear whether Murphy is still a big Star Trek fan. Still, with a fourth movie on the way and Star Trek: Discovery airing on CBS All Access next May, maybe all these decades later, the franchise can find a way to include him, even if it's just a cameo role.