One has to wonder if Cher even knows how many parts she was considered for, but never even told about.
Anyone familiar with the history of bringing Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire to the screen may be aware the author once considered changing one of her male vampires to a woman and have her played by Cher. That way, if her story’s gay subtext was what was holding the film back, it would now be as hetero as it could be … with Cher involved.
Yet, it seems Rice wasn’t the only one considering Cher for a role in the 1990s. Apparently, the producers behind 1996’s Star Trek: First Contact felt they had the perfect role for the singer. In time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Star Trek: The Next Generation film, First Contact makeup artist Scott Wheeler told The Hollywood Reporter that the film almost didn’t have the venerable Alice Krige as the Borg Queen villain.
“That character would not have worked without Alice playing the role. They were talking about Cher playing the role. And no offense to Cher, she’s had some great moments, but it would have been so gimmicky, and I doubt she would have been willing to sit through the four-and-a-half-hour makeup we were putting on Alice.”
Wow. If only we could turn back time.
While studios might not be clamoring to cast the “Believe” singer today, back in the mid-1990s, it was a much different story. Cher had already been nominated for two Oscars, actually winning in 1988 for Moonstruck. Just four years before, she picked up her first nomination for Silkwood, which she starred alongside Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell.
Yet, how distracting might it have been to First Contact to have such a big name taking on a key role? Especially since even today, Star Trek avoids big-name villains out of fear they’ll upstage the main cast, like the old days of Batman films in the 1990s.
Wheeler, who has an Emmy nomination on his resume thanks to his work on Space: Above and Beyond in 1995, said he really wasn’t given too much to work with when it came to designing the Borg Queen. He already had set to work redesigning the Borg themselves from the budget-friendly way they appeared on The Next Generation, and he knew that the queen would have to rise even above that.
“With the Borg Queen, the script had one simple description: ‘hauntingly beautiful.’ I thought, “OK, why is she hauntingly beautiful?’ Maybe the Borg needs a certain appeal. Maybe she’s hauntingly beautiful because she’s sort of the seductress of the ideals that the Borg are supposed to represent.
“There was this beautiful face that is basically stretched over a bio-mechanical form. In the very front is a facade of beauty, and as you go further back and look at her, more and more, you see the horror and the rot and the decay.”
When Krige first learned about the role, the Sleepwalkers star told her agent she wanted to see the script before she could commit to auditioning. And that’s when she was first indoctrinated into the secret world of Star Trek (even 20 years ago) – no one sees the script.
Krige told EW reporter Aaron Couch she had never seen Star Trek, so she rushed over to a friend’s house she knew was a Trekkie, and watched all the Borg episodes. Yet, it wasn’t until she was in her main audition that the role of the Borg Queen clicked for her.
“In the course of doing those scenes for them, I suddenly kind of got her. I suddenly experienced the Borg Queen. I came out and I thought I had completely blown it. So I ran off the lot and found a payphone at a gas station and I called my agent and said, ‘I really, really messed that up. But I really, really want to do it. Would you ask then if I could come in again?’
“She phoned them, and we didn’t hear anything for three weeks. I thought, ‘Oh well. Another one bites the dust.’ And three weeks later, they called and said, ‘Would you come in again please?'”
When First Contact was released, it was the second-biggest Star Trek movie at the time, grossing $150 million worldwide, or $231.1 million today.
It was directed by The Next Generation series co-star Jonathan Frakes, and was the first Star Trek film not to feature any cast members from the original Star Trek.
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