How Tom Hanks and Marlon Brando almost appeared on Star Trek

Marlon Brando as Soran on Star Trek: Generations? Tom Hanks for Star Trek: First Contact or Insurrection? It nearly happened. And finding out about these and some other names that could have played some of our favorite characters—including the Borg Queen—has got us really, really excited this morning. (Or maybe it's the coffee).

Once again the reveals come straight from Star Trek producer Rick Berman, who has lately been a mine of fascinating information about all things Trek. (He ran the franchise for 18 years, after all.)

Answering fan questions on Star about other well-known actors and actresses who almost appeared on the series (or movies) but didn't, Berman made some rather eye-popping revelations:

When we were looking for the Borg Queen on First Contact we had meetings with Isabella Rossellini. We had meetings with Nastassja Kinski. Both of them were interested in doing the part and both of them, for one reason or another, ended up not doing the part. At one point we had hopes for a small cameo role for Tom Hanks in either First Contact or Insurrection, I can't remember which, that didn't work out. We had hopes, and I've discussed this over the years, of doing a two-part Enterprise episode with Bill Shatner. He'd worked out a whole idea that was wonderful. Manny and Brannon and I had two meetings with him, and the monetary end of things did not work out as far as the studio was concerned. When were casting the role of Soran, which Malcolm McDowell played in Generations, I got a call from Marlon Brando's agent saying that he was interested in doing it. It was the biggest thrill of my life. But the studio was not willing to pay the money that Mr. Brando was looking for.

We just have to pause for a brief moment here and go ... whoa!

Imagining either Isabella Rossellini or Nastassja Kinski as the Borg Queen is a fun exercise, but it's hard to see anyone but Alice Krige in the role she played so magnificently (yes, we know, she was replaced by actress Susanna Thompson on most episodes of Star Trek Voyager except for the finale, for which Krige reprised the role). She was both sexy and menacing.

The thought of Marlon Brando on Star Trek is thrilling enough. At the time, Brando was fresh off playing the villain on The Island of Dr. Moreau, which no doubt inspired the producers to look at him for the role of Dr. Tolian Soran, the El-Aurian scientist who tried to destroy two stars and an inhabited planet in order to enter the Nexus, that boring extradimensional realm that transformed people's desires into reality. But in the end, McDowell probably proved the better choice, as Brando's name (and ego) might have overshadowed the production much as it did for Superman.

As for the Tom Hanks cameo—which would have been at once cool and surreal—Star Trek has a long history of cameo appearances, including Christian Slater in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Robert Picardo (the EMH on Voyager) on First Contact, Bryan Singer in Star Trek: Nemesis and most recently Greg Grunberg (his voice) in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek.

But the most surprising news here has got to be the fact that they were considering a two-part episode of Enterprise with Bill Shatner. That would have rocked, and we wonder how they would have done it. Would he have been Capt. Kirk or someone else? We hope Rick Berman tells us one day a bit more about it.

So what do you guys think of all these casting near-happenings? Are you much more happy with how they actually turned up? And wouldn't you have LOVED some Shat in Enterprise?

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