Star Trek: TNG – Ronald D. Moore Talks First Contact 25th Anniversary

Writer Ronald D Moore became such an important piece of Star Trek: The Next Generation's success, he ultimately followed them into the films. Speaking with THR, the For All Mankind creator opened up about TNG's second film First Contact in 1996, which became the most critically-acclaimed and financially successful film of the Patrick Stewart-led franchise. It was the follow-up to the 1994 crossover film Generations that saw The Original Series crew led by William Shatner's Capt. James T. Kirk passing the proverbial torch to Stewart's Capt. Jean-Luc Picard.

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Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton in Star Trek: First Contact (1996). Image courtesy of Paramount

Star Trek: First Contact Initial Ideas

"'Generations' was still in theaters when [then-Paramount studio head] Sherry Lansing called Rick [Berman] and said, 'Let's do another one,'" Moore recalls. "And when Rick came to us with that, we were very eager to go back in. There were no mandates or edicts like on Generations. It was just: 'What do you want to do?'" Berman wanted to do a time travel story, which would be the second such story after 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Brannon Braga wanted to focus on TNG's arguably greatest adversary, the Borg.

The first draft had the Enterprise-E follow the Borg to the Renaissance before the idea was turned down with Moore admitting that Stewart didn't want to don tights again before moving on to the focus on the man who invented warp travel on earth in Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell). Also penciled in at the time for the pioneer was another Oscar-winner in Tom Hanks. "It never got that far," Moore said. "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." With the mission and enemy decided, work had to be done to weave the crew's history with the Borg for those who didn't follow the series.

"Almost anytime we had to reference prior episodes in a storyline on Next Generation or backstories, we had to kind of give succinct pieces of exposition in those briefing room scenes," Moore explained. "So we did have sort of a black belt in terms of explaining complicated things for the audience. There was a bit of a checklist because you had to get around the table. Everyone had to participate and Picard is always at the center, making the final decision. Riker almost always has to say something that's the wrong course of action. Worf (Michael Dorn) would say something like, 'We should shoot them all' while grumbling in the corner or something, and Data (Brent Spiner) or Geordi (LeVar Burton) has a theory that no one's ever thought of. So we had to do a version of that with the scene in First Contact, get that information out very quickly — and it is all about clarity." For more on behind the scenes of Star Trek: First Contact including creative differences that had to be ironed out with Stewart, working within Paramount's budgeting, and the film's success, you can check out the entire interview here.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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