Drawing the Line: Behind the Scenes Secrets From ‘Star Trek: First Contact’

Behind the scenes secrets from ‘Star Trek: First Contact’

Paramount / Fox / YouTube Behind the scenes secrets from ‘Star Trek: First Contact’

It is hard to believe, but 25 years have passed since the ‘first’ movies featuring the crew of the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” hit movie screens around the nation. It was this day, back in 1996, when Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and his crew traveled back in time to face the Borg and save the future of humanity. 

Some may argue that “Star Trek: Generations” was the first “Next Gen” film, but that was a bridge between two eras. “Generations” featured more time with the TNG crew, but the plot still revolved around a missing Kirk (William Shatner) and a madman who was trying to reach a literal Nirvana.

“First Contact” featured the Borg in a new role — one of a sexual predator, thanks to Alice Krige’s portrayal of the Borg Queen. Her minions battled Worf (Michael Dorn) and Lt. Hawk (Neal McDonough), as fans would expect. The queen herself tortured poor Data (Brent Spiner) and tormented Picard. 

Here are five interesting facts about Star Trek VIII — “First Contact”

Shatner Wrote Kirk’s Return for Film

As many are aware, Shatner was informed that his character would be killed in “Generations.” According to Screen Rant, if the star did not return as Kirk, the producers would have killed him off-screen. 

So after his character died — when a bridge fell and crushed him — Shatner wrote a few novels on how Kirk actually was brought back to life by the Romulans. These became the basis for the “Shatnerverse” stories. 

In “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years: From The Next Generation to J. J. Abrams: The Complete, Uncensored, and Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek” by Ed Gross and Mark A. Altman, Shatner said that Kirk returning was his “fantasy,” and read that the producers of “Star Trek VIII” were going to make a strictly TNG film. He also said he thought the studio would “jump at the chance” to have Kirk and Picard on the same screen again.

Tom Hanks as Zefram Cochrane?

Since the actor who portrayed the creator of Earth’s first warp drive had actually died in 1993, the role had to be recast. Originally, the part of Cochrane was played by Glenn Corbett in the TOS episode “Metamorphosis,” the role went to actor James Cromwell instead. Cromwell was well respected and well-known for his role as Farmer Hoggett in the Academy Award-nominated film “Babe.”

“First Contact” co-writer Ronald D. Moore recently told The Hollywood Reporter that superstar Tom Hanks was talked about for the role of Cochrane.

“It never got that far,” Moore told writer Phil Pirrello. “At that point in the process, there are lots of names on a wishlist for many, many reasons. I’m sure his name was floated in some capacity, but it was never really on the table.”

The Borg were the ‘Reverse’ Aliens

Production designer Herman Zimmerman, who helped shape so much of 1980s and 1990s Trek, compared the Borg to the Xenomorph from 1979’s “Alien.” In “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years,” Zimmerman told Gross and Altman that the Xenomorph ripped the human body apart, the Borg added things to the human body, which was just as terrifying.

“What I think is different about the Borg as antagonists is that they once were human or humanoid organisms, and the monster from ‘Alien’ was always a creature of an entirely different species with no concern about human values of any kind,” said Zimmerman. “The Borg have had humanity or humanoid origins and are now assimilated into this machine culture. In a way they are more scary than something that tears you apart, because they don’t tear you apart. They make you over into something you don’t want to be.” 

“To me, that’s much scarier than just being killed. That’s the kind of nightmarish bad guys we were creating.”

Stewart Shut Down Going to the Renaissance

Moore said that he and co-writer Brannon Braga considered sending the crew back to the 1860s during the American Civil War or even further back to the Italian Renaissance. Moore told The Hollywood Reporter that Stewart vetoed that plan.

“But that quickly got shot down because there was no way Patrick was going to wear tights again,” Moore said in the interview. Stewart wore tights in the Robin Hood-themed TNG episode, “Qpid.”

‘Alien’ Director Turned Down ‘Star Trek’

He’s known for “Blade Runner” and “Alien,” and he could have been known for “Star Trek,” too. But visionary director Ridley Scott turned down the job of directing the film, according to Screen Rant. He would later change his tune on Trek, as he told Den of Geek

“I never realized that the awakening of the science fiction universe, over many, many films, would get so large,” said Scott in the interview. “You can’t thank ‘Star Wars’ for that; you can thank, God bless them, ‘Star Trek.’ You’ve got all that. It’s evolved and made another form of entertainment.”

Instead, Trek veteran Jonathan Frakes took the helm of what many consider to be the best of the TNG films.

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