The Godfather

Marlon Brando Was Almost In Star Trek Generations – What Happened?

The legendary actor Marlon Brando expressed an interest in playing Dr. Tolian Soran in Star Trek Generations, but it simply wasn’t meant to be.

Star Trek Generations nearly had a much more high profile villain, as screen legend Marlon Brando expressed an interest in taking on the role that would become Dr. Tolian Soran. Star Trek Generations was a transitional movie for the franchise, as the focus shifted away from the Star Trek: The Original Series crew to the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. A handful of TOS cast members – including William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk – returned one last time to pass the torch to Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the crew of the USS Enterprise-D.

The villain of Star Trek Generations was Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell), an El-Aurian obsessed with gaining access to the Nexus, a portal to a sort of heaven dimension. McDowell does a solid job with a role that is, quite frankly, a bit undercooked, especially considering Soran sets up the death of Captain Kirk and the destruction of the Enterprise-D. It turns out Soran could have been quite a bit different in another actor’s hands.

Marlon Brando Was Almost In Star Trek Generations – What Happened?

Tolian Soran in Star Trek Generations

Early in the pre-production process of Star Trek Generations, producer Rick Berman was informed that Marlon Brando had some interest in playing the movie’s villain. Berman as understandably excited, as Star Trek didn’t generally attract that kind of A-list Hollywood talent. Landing the star of The Godfather would have been a genuine event for the franchise.

To Berman’s horror, Paramount was not overly enthused at the prospect of working with Brando. Brando was in his 70s by that point, and the studio believed he was washed up. Brando’s reputation for being difficult to work with surely didn’t help matters. Berman eventually gave up when it became apparent Brando’s salary demands were going to be impossible to meet

Would Brando Have Made Star Trek Generations Better?

Riker Picard Star Trek Generations Bridge

Star Trek Generations is not generally regarded as one of the highlights of the film series. Despite some strong performances from the main cast, particularly Patrick Stewart, the film’s script has some fatal narrative flaws, and the death of Kirk and destruction of the Enterprise-D did not land effectively. It was also immediately overshadowed by the more successful sequel Star Trek: First Contact.

It’s unlikely casting Marlon Brando would have saved Star Trek Generations from its inherent flaws. Malcolm McDowell gives a strong performance as Soran, and while an older Brando may have done something a little less obvious with the character, it’s unlikely he would have served the story any better than McDowell. Marlon Brando is definitely a Star Trek missed opportunity, but it’s unlikely his presence could have salvaged Star Trek Generations.

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