It’s hard to believe that Star Trek: First Contact came out 25 years ago, but here we are. The movie—the second one with The Next Generation crew led by Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart)—had the Borg set on using time travel to assimilate Earth at an earlier date, with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise (E) the only ones to stop them.
The Hollywood Reporter recently interviewed the film’s co-writer Ron Moore about the film’s production, including some key circumstances that got flipped around during the writing process.
According to Moore, he and co-writer Brannon Braga decided to have an “upstairs, downstairs” take on the story, with Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) on the Enterprise battling the Borg while Picard was planet-side with Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell).
“We did at least a draft or two of that version, and I know Patrick wanted to be on the ship,” Moore told The Hollywood Reporter. “Patrick had really liked doing the [TNG episode] ‘Starship Mine,’ where he was alone on the Enterprise-D and running around. And I think he overtly referenced that in a way like, ‘I would really like to be the one on the ship fighting the Borg, instead of down on the surface.’ And Rick Berman relayed that to us, and I think Brannon and I just immediately went: ‘That’s better. That makes more sense.’ So we flipped it.”
Having Picard on the Enterprise and Riker on the planet did make a lot of sense. The change, among other things, gave Picard some of one of his most emotional moments in Trek history around his memories of being assimilated by the Borg. His confrontation with the Borg Queen is a riveting cap to the plotline, which now looks like it might be a driving force behind the next season of Star Trek: Picard.
The interview includes other fun tidbits like the fact that Stewart pressed for some rewrites and brought in his own writer to do so. Those rewrites didn’t pan out, however, and Moore and Braga were brought back in.
Check out the entire interview here or celebrate the movie’s 25th anniversary by watching it on Paramount+.