Why Karl Urban Almost Didn’t Return For Star Trek Beyond

Karl Urban as McCoy in Star Trek Beyond

The U.S.S. Enterprise wouldn't feel complete without having Doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy as its chief medical officer, so when the original Star Trek series was rebooted for the big screen last decade, Karl Urban was tasked with succeeding DeForrest Kelley as the gruff doctor. Urban has been along for the ride with his other main cast-mates for three movies so far, but that number nearly capped off at two for the Dredd star. Initially, Urban was hesitant to return for Star Trek Beyond because he felt McCoy had been shortchanged when it came to character development. Urban recalled:

Firstly, I was a little disappointed with the lack of development with McCoy in [Star Trek Into Darkness]. So it was that. Even though I had an amazing experience working with J.J. [Abrams] and the cast, at the end of the day I didn't have much to do. So when they came to me with the offer for [Star Trek Beyond] I was literally in the final stages of negotiating another film.

Karl Urban stopped by Star Trek Las Vegas this past weekend, and when a fan asked if it was true that he almost didn't come back after Star Trek Into Darkness, Urban confirmed this (via TrekMovie) and provided the above explanation for why he was hesitant to reprise Dr. McCoy for a third time. Fortunately for Urban, Star Trek Beyond rectified his concerns that by pairing him with Spock for a good chunk of the movie, and it was director Justin Lin who delivered the selling pitch once he'd been brought aboard. Urban continued:

We got on the phone and even though I couldn't read a script he told me the story and when he explained the situation of Bones and Spock being shot out of the turbolift into space and crash landing on a planet and being marooned together I was like 'In! I am in in a big way!'

While James T. Kirk and Spock are the two primary characters of Star Trek: The Original Series and these reboot movies, Leonard McCoy is unquestionably integral to these stories, acting as Kirk's human best friend and a wonderful foil for Spock. So had Karl Urban decided not to return for Star Trek Beyond, McCoy's absence would have been most unfortunate. The Enterprise wouldn't be the same without his curmudgeonly attitude.

Star Trek 4 is currently in the works, although Paramount has not officially greenlit the project yet. Karl Urban, like the rest of his co-stars, is hopeful that the next movie (which will see Chris Hemsworth reprising George Kirk) will move forward, but he also said that if that doesn't happen, Star Trek Beyond is a great note to end on, calling it his favorite of the three he's been involved with. Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more news on the Star Trek franchise's future, both on film and television.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.