Leonard Nimoy was originally to star in The Questor Tapes
In 1974, Gene Roddenberry had another science fiction series in mind that would been different from Star Trek: The Original Series and yet would have been solidly linked with it had promises been kept. The new series, The Questor Tapes, was written by Roddenberry and Gene L. Coon and involved an alien race that had spent a lot of time helping mankind progress with the use of androids. The alien race placed the androids within society to help guide humans, and the scripts were strong enough for NBC to request a pilot, which should have included Leonard Nimoy.
In the pilot, Dr. Jerry Robinson teams up with Questor, who is one of those androids, who is on a quest to meet his creator and find out more about himself and what his ultimate purpose is. The pilot was pitched to NBC with Mike Farrell as Dr. Jerry Robinson and Robert Foxworth as Questor, and while NBC asked for additional scripts, executives decided not to proceed with the series. According to The Fifty Year Mission: The First 25 Years written by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, NBC had creative differences with Gene Roddenberry which led to the decision to pass.
Roddenberry’s decision was a relief to Leonard Nimoy
According to Leonard Nimoy, in an interview he gave to the Television Academy, Roddenberry had been hired to develop a television series that Nimoy was supposed to star in. The studio developed the make-up and wardrobe for Nimoy who would have portrayed Questor. Nimoy saw the sketches from the departments that were based on his build and, days before shooting was supposed to start on the pilot, he was shocked to discover another actor, Robert Foxworth, had been cast to play Questor.
Nimoy asked Roddenberry about the situation. Roddenberry said the network execs called him to the screening room to show him some film of different actors. They asked him what he thought of Robert Foxworth. Roddenberry said he liked him, and the next thing he knew, in spite of the fact that Roddenberry was the producer and writer, Foxworth had been hired to play the lead in the show.
"“That’s the story he told me. And I was relieved. I said thanks, I’m out of here. I wanted to go off and do other things.”"
Like the rest of us, Nimoy was never sure if the decision had been the network’s or Gene Roddenberry’s. The two men had creative differences at times while working together on Star Trek so it’s possible Roddenberry did change his mind. Regardless, though, one does have to wonder if the pilot had included NImoy if NBC would have ordered the series. With the popularity of Star Trek in the 1970s, including Nimoy could only have been a boost for what might have been a very good show.