Ed Asner Nearly Had a Significant Role in ‘Star Trek’

Chris Pine and Ed Asner

Paramount / Getty Images Chris Pine and Ed Asner

He was a star of stage and screen for decades and known to millions for his varied roles. Ed Asnerthe recipient of seven Emmy awards, died on August 29 at the age of 91. 

His career spanned over 40 years, and though he is best known to some as Lou Grant on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the spinoff in which he starred, he made a name for himself as a voice actor in recent years. Asner voiced the main character in the Disney/Pixar film “Up,” which he said gave his career a “new life.”

His voice also appeared on the popular animated show “The Boondocks” as Uncle Wuncler. Asner appeared alongside Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel as Santa Claus in the Christmas film “Elf.”

Anser was remembered by his friends in show business, including “Star Trek” star George Takei.  

Though many of his recent roles were in the realm of voice acting, he had been active behind the microphone for some time. 

Asner on ‘Star Wars’

Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi Radio Drama – Nigel's EditSTAR WARS: EPISODE VI RETURN OF THE JEDI – The Original 1996 Radio Drama. I have combined all episodes of the original radio drama using excerpts from John Williams' original soundtrack and Ben Burt's sound effects for a more seamless blending from one episode to the next. This is how I want to experience this…2018-11-30T07:06:42Z

Though he did not appear on screen in any of the original “Star Wars” films, Asner lent his voice to a radio drama, which was based on “Return of the Jedi.” NPR produced audio versions of the original “Star Wars” and “Empire Strikes Back” in 1981 and 1983, respectively. Lucasfilm was a collaborator in both of these releases. 

One might think that a radio version of “Return of the Jedi” would have followed the film’s release, or soon after, but thanks to some legal disputes between NPR and Lucasfilm, the recording of “Jedi” did not happen until 1996. Asner stepped into the role of Jabba the Hutt, and according to FanSided’s Mia Johnson, Asner spoke “some impressive Huttese.” She also wrote that Asner’s version of the slug-like gangster sounded “a bit more alien and even robotic.”

He would perform for a few “Star Wars” video games also. He voiced Master Vrook Lamar from “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” and “Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords.”

Asner on ‘Star Trek’

While this is a case of ‘what might have been,’ we now know that Asner was penciled in to play a part for the “Star Trek” film, which could have followed “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.” 

Thanks to a tweet by Michael Okuda, we learned what exactly Asner was going to do for “Star Trek.” Okuda, who Trek fans know was the mind who created LCARS, the graphic interface featured on the shows “The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine,” and “Voyager.” Okuda, and his wife Denise, are now Trek royalty and have helped create so much of what fans consider the “look” of the franchise. 

Okuda gave fans a small portion of the script to look at, which was from “Star Trek: The Academy Years.” This was the film that Trek producer Harve Bennett wanted to make after the underwhelming box office and critical performance of “Star Trek V.” Bennett assigned screenwriter David Loughery to essentially reboot “Star Trek.” 

Loughery’s story involved the first meeting between Kirk and Spock as young cadets at Starfleet Academy. Asner, according to Okuda, would have played a trainer named Zydeeko. 

Instead of going with this idea, Paramount decided to do one last film with the original cast. They turned to Nick Meyer, who was responsible for “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and the rest of the TOS crew returned for “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.” Read more about Loughery’s script and ideas here, and how they might still be used. 

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