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The Real Reason Leonard Nimoy & DeForest Kelley Turned Down Star Trek Generations

In the vast pantheon of "Star Trek" movies, 1994's "Star Trek Generations" occupies an odd spot. At its time of release, it represented something exciting: a full-scale crossover between "Star Trek: The Original Series" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation," bridging the timeline gap between the two juggernauts. Despite that promising premise, the movie has garnered a rather mixed legacy for not quite delivering the goods. One long-standing criticism of the flick is the absence of several key cast members — most egregiously, Leonard Nimoy's Spock and DeForest Kelley's Leonard "Bones" McCoy.

As it happens, there were originally plans for both of these "Original Series" mainstays to appear in the movie. However, interviews with both Nimoy and Kelley contained within the "Star Trek" oral history "The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years" reveal that the actors were dissatisfied with the nature of the film's script and their characters' respective roles. "There was a character called Spock who had a dozen lines you could easily assign to anyone else, which they did," Nimoy explained. "I felt they needed to rethink the story, and the response was, 'We don't have time.' So I said, 'Bon voyage, good luck.'"

Kelley elaborated further, revealing that their characters were initially slated to have minimal screen time. "When I read the script and saw we were only in the first 10 minutes, I thought it was best to pass and go out with 'VI,'" he said. "At the time, I didn't know Leonard had passed as well, and I certainly wouldn't have done the film without him in it."

Nimoy was originally slated to direct Generations

While Leonard Nimoy's Spock was once planned to be a part of the narrative for "Star Trek Generations," that's not quite the full story on the actor's involvement with the project. In reality, Nimoy was once meant to be more intimately involved with the movie than any of his other castmates, as he was initially approached to be the film's director.

Diehard "Star Trek" fans may already know that Nimoy sat in the director's chair for both "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" and "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home." His streak of directorial credits in the franchise was set to continue with "Star Trek Generations," but he had a profound distaste for just about everything in the movie's original script — barring the resolution of what happens to Data (Brent Spiner) and his emotion chip. "My God, what were they doing?" Nimoy said in "The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years," referencing his feelings on the script. "Why that scene? What's this scene about? Where are they going with this?"

Nimoy subsequently requested a complete rewrite of the film's script, which producer Rick Berman outright rejected. Negotiations for Nimoy's involvement completely broke down, and the rest is history — though Berman acknowledged in hindsight that a more favorable outcome for all parties could have been reached. "It was unusual for us to write a script with no director involved at all," he said. "Mr. Nimoy is right that he probably should have had a pass at the script."