“Star Trek: First Contact” is widely considered one of the best movies in the franchise. The film tells the story of humanity’s first warp flight and its subsequent first contact with an alien species, the Vulcans.
Zefram Cochrane, the man who built the first warp-capable ship and piloted it into orbit, is one of the main characters in the movie. Much of the plot focuses on how different he is from the historical figure he was memorialized as and his trepidation about the outcome of his momentous flight. At multiple points during the movie, Cochrane tries to escape his fate.
One scene that was ultimately deleted from the film depicted Cochrane trying to escape his fate in a much more permanent fashion, according to one insider.
Cochrane’s Suicide Attempt
In an interview with Star Trek Monthly, summarized by Memory Alpha, “First Contact” co-writer Brannon Braga revealed that the production team decided to cut a scene in which Cochrane attempted suicide in order to circumvent his role in the first warp flight.
In the scene, Cochrane ran away from the lab and was pursued by members of the Enterprise crew. The chase ended with Cochrane trapped at the edge of a cliff. He threatened to jump off the cliff if the Starfleet officers didn’t leave him alone.
Counselor Deanna Troi, who had a grudging rapport with Cochrane, was summoned to talk Cochrane out of jumping. After a long and exasperating conversation with him, Troi got so frustrated that she actually told Cochrane to jump. When he got cold feet, she pushed him off, knowing that Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge had set up a force field around the cliff. Cochrane landed on the force field and was retrieved by the crew.
The tone of the scene suggests that Cochrane wasn’t actually suicidal. He was just trying to run away from the pressure associated with his legacy.
Braga told Star Trek Monthly that the scene was deleted from the movie because they needed to cut a few minutes off the final runtime. He added that the team felt they had enough scenes that demonstrated Cochrane’s character, so this one hit the chopping block.
Actor James Cromwell Auditioned With the Deleted Scene
To bring the scene to life, Crowell got up on a chair and pretended it was the cliff. He stood at the edge until the script instructed him to make the jump. At that point he sprawled his body over the chair, simulating his character getting caught in the force field. Cromwell said that the production team was delighted by his dramatic choices.
The Scene That Ended up in the Movie
The scene Braga and Cromwell described sounds very similar to a scene that did make it into the movie. In that scene, Cochrane and LaForge discuss Cochrane’s legacy. LaForge points out that they are standing in the exact spot where a statue of Cochrane will stand in the future.
Cochrane becomes overwhelmed by the gravity of his future and says that he needs to “take a leak.” He heads off into the woods and begins running.
The Enterprise crewmembers eventually realize that Cochrane is missing and go searching for him. Instead of trapping him at the edge of the cliff like in the deleted scene, Cochrane continues to run away, shouting that he doesn’t want the responsibilities involved in his legacy. Commander William Riker simply states that they don’t have time to deal with Cochrane’s antics and stuns him with a phaser.
The scene conveys the same message of Cochrane’s reluctance in an abbreviated and humorous way.
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