It was 25 years ago, in 1996, that the USS Enterprise-E traveled back in time to meet the inventor of warp drive, Zephram Cochrane, and defeat the Borg (as well as possibly some, uh, other stuff) in Star Trek: First Contact. James Cromwell, who'd already appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation as a different character, portrayed Cochrane. However, rumor has long held that, at one point, the film's creators had another actor in mind for the role of Cochrane: the Oscar-winning actor and big Star Trek fan Tom Hanks. After the film's release, producer Rick Berman acknowledged the rumor, saying that scheduling didn't work and director/star Jonathan Frakes noted that he felt casting such a big star in the role would have been a mistake.
To commemorate First Contact's 25th anniversary, co-writer Ronald D. Moore spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about what transpired behind the film's scenes. That included Moore commenting on those Tom Hanks rumors. As far as Moore remembers, Hanks was an actor on their wishlist from the earliest stages of the film's development, but never one they seriously considered.
"It never got that far," Moore says. "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."
Moore also recalled how he and co-writer Brannon Braga split the script between the action on the ship against the Borg and the developments on Earth with Cochrane. Initially, First Officer Will Riker was to battle the Borg while Captain Picard dealt with Cochrane. Patrick Stewart requested the writers flip those roles. Braga previously recalled the moment, and now Moore remembers it in more specifics.
"We did at least a draft or two of that version, and I know Patrick wanted to be on the ship," Moore explains. "Patrick had really liked doing the [TNG episode] 'Starship Mine,' where he was alone on the Enterprise-D and running around. And I think he overtly referenced that in a way like, 'I would really like to be the one on the ship fighting the Borg, instead of down on the surface.' And Rick Berman relayed that to us, and I think Brannon and I just immediately went: 'That's better. That makes more sense.' So we flipped it."
What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Star Trek: First Contact is currently streaming on Paramount+.