When Leonard Nimoy approached Beverly Hills Cop scribe Daniel Petrie, Jr to write the screenplay for Star Trek IV, a very strange possibility came into being: rising superstar Eddie Murphy was a fan of the franchise and wanted a part in the new movie. Murphy and Nimoy both acknowledged that while the actor’s popularity meant that the franchise could get a broader audience, there was the distinct possibility that Nimoy and Paramount would be accused of bandwagon-jumping, Still, they assessed the risks and decided to go for it.
Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes (who would later be responsible for Anna and the King and the Jean-Claude Van Damme and Jean-Claude Van Damme feature Double Impact) were hired to write a screenplay featuring a role for Murphy. Murphy was unhappy with his role as an eccentric (some might say “nutty”) college professor who passionately believes in alien life and listens to whale songs in his spare time. The actor greatly disliked the part, which he felt was too close to his role as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. He opted out of the picture and went on to make the much-vilified The Golden Child.
In later interviews, Murphy would said that he made a mistake and he should have been more forthright with his desire to play “a real Star Trek Vulcan Starfleet guy.” Over subsequent revisions, the college professor character would morph into cetacean expert Dr. Gillian Taylor.