Twenty-five years ago, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, with Catherine Hicks as Dr. Gillian Taylor, was released, and today, the actress recalls her memories of auditioning for and appearing in the movie.
Hicks wasn’t familiar with Star Trek or its history before landing the role of Dr. Taylor. “I think it charmed [Leonard Nimoy] that I was like the character,” she said, “utterly naive of the genre and the history of it.”
After auditioning several times for the role, Nimoy wanted Hicks to meet William Shatner. “Leonard wanted to show me to Shatner,” said Hicks. “And he had to go to Bill’s horse ranch in Burbank. And I grew up in Arizona, but I am not a horse person. And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, if the horse doesn’t like me, Bill will influence Leonard’s decision.’ So I was pretty nervous. Then I remember Bill saying to Leonard, ‘Hell, Leonard, she’s worked with Coppola and Sidney Lumet. She’s worked with better people than we have. Hire her.'”
Shatner had plenty of advice for director Nimoy, and his desire to be front and center in the film meant that Hicks sometimes had to fight for her own scenes. “[Shatner]’s like a mischievous brother,” she said. “He tried to, maybe, just a little bit, undermine — but always in a playful way — Leonard’s confidence. Like, ‘Are you really going to do the shot that way, Leonard? Really?’ And Leonard would be, ‘What do you mean?’ And I had to fight for a couple of close-ups. I’d say, ‘No, no, no. I’m fighting for my whales. It’s a single shot. Don’t let him be in my shots.’ Bill wanted it to be a two shot. But then Leonard just said, ‘Don’t worry Cat, I know Bill. We go back a long way.’ And Leonard was very supportive and very smart about acting. He’s so calm; he’s such a nice person.”
The Star Trek actors were kind to the newcomer Hicks. “They were so nice to me,” she said. “I had a big part and actors can be threatened or ticked off or envious or resentful, and they were so nice. Nice warm friends, immediately. They didn’t cater to me; they were just dignified and very friendly.”
Hicks never heard the rumor that Shatner had demanded a love interest in the film, but she ended up providing that bit of romance anyhow. “No, I didn’t know,” she said. “I know it was my idea to kiss him at the end. So I played it as a romance. But, again, I didn’t know any of the history — that Shatner was a playboy. I took it all at face value.
“I just leaned forward and chose to kiss him and whispered, ‘See you around the galaxy.’ I wanted a little bit of breathiness there.”