Gene Roddenberry wanted Lloyd Bridges for Star Trek
When casting for the original pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, “The Cage,” was underway, several actors were considered for Captain Christopher Pike, but there was one actor that Gene Roddenberry was seriously interested in. He’d worked with Lloyd Bridges on Sea Hunt, the series in which Bridges played Mike Nelson, a former Navy diver who took on dangerous missions in the sea, and Roddenberry liked the actor. So he approached Bridges about helming the Enterprise on its first mission.
Back in the 1960s, science fiction wasn’t as popular as it is today, and many actors stayed away from it for fear it would taint their careers. Bridges was no different. Roddenberry, who was quoted in The Fifty-Year Mission The First25 Years, said “Lloyd was very much under consideration.” But that changed when the idea was passed to Bridges.
Lloyd Bridges had no interest in Star Trek or any other science fiction
Once Roddenberry approached Bridges about joining the cast of Star Trek, the actor was very blunt in his response. He told Roddenberry that he liked him, but that he’d seen science fiction and didn’t want to be within a hundred miles of it. And his response didn’t surprise Roddenberry . He tried to convince Bridges that he would do science fiction differently, but he wasn’t so sure he could.
It was challenging to write good science fiction that didn’t come across as cheesy, and while some of the Star Trek: The Original Series episodes were a bit campy at times, Roddenberry did manage to create a different kind of sci-fi. But it would take another pilot, different actors, and the reconstruction of the crew to make the series work for NBC.
It’s always interesting to think if the series we know and love would have worked as well with a different actor as the captain, but honestly, too much time has passed. We might have watched Star Trek with Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Pike, but now, we can’t imagine anyone guiding the first Enterprise quite like Captain James T. Kirk did…not even Lloyd Bridges.