June 15 2024


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Visitor: Deep Space Nine Has Staying Power

3 min read

As the twentieth anniversary of the debut of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine approaches, Nana Visitor shares her memories of the show, beginning with her unusual approach to her audition for the role of Kira Nerys.

From the beginning, Kira Nerys was meant to be a strong woman. “What was described to me was that this Bajoran woman was highly aggressive and very spiritual,” said Visitor. “I came in with the situation that was written in the pilot [Emissary and that’s what they liked. They wanted the aggression that I brought. From there, she evolved in seven years.”

That aggression showed up in the audition for the role, and the producers might have wondered what they were getting into with the actress. “I walked in … very often actors walk in and there’s a ‘Hello, How are you?’ you know, niceties. I just didn’t do that with Kira – I came in as Kira and I said ‘Let’s just go’, which isn’t usual – to take over. Usually it’s the producers who run things and say ‘OK, shall we do this?’ So, I think that they thought I’d be a problem!”

But the producers wanted Visitor to come back for another audition. “…They called me back and they said ‘Do that again’, and there were more people in the room, and I did it again,” she said. “But you know – I went out and bought a pair of army boots, and I put them on for the audition – I bought them for the audition – I put them on and I was Kira, and that was that. And I knew it – and there’s a sense in the room when you’re waiting with other actors, sometimes you’ll go ‘Oh, that one’s got it already; she’s already got the part’, even though you all haven’t read that. And I sensed that there was a consensus that I was already Kira.”

Visitor is sorry that a movie or miniseries was not considered for the series. “…I really don’t know why that decision [not to make a movie] was made,” she said. “But I know that it would be – I think it would be a great film, I really do – a great movie. I think Avery is so interesting on film, and René, Armin, Colm, Siddig … everybody. It would be a strong cast, and I think it could be a strong storyline.”

But Deep Space Nine was not as popular as earlier Star Treks, or Voyager. “I know that it wasn’t what the Star Trek fandom as a whole wanted to see,” said Visitor. “It was dark, and I think that was our problem. More than being the middle child, I think it was just a very different take on Star Trek.”

“[Deep Space Nine] has staying power. Armin and I used to say on the set – when people would say ‘You know, I don’t know if I really like this.’ – we’d go ‘You know what, in ten years people will get it.’ And I think even ten years from now, people will get the show.”

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8 thoughts on “Visitor: Deep Space Nine Has Staying Power

  1. I have to agree with her that the series has staying power. But I liked it because it was darker. You had more of a reality than you did with the others.

  2. I agree. It gave us another aspect of the great Star Trek universe. The character development of the characters was so well done. That includes all the reoccurring characters as well. I still watch DS9.

  3. Third-ed. (Is that even a verb?) DS9 is far and away my favorite show because it dealt with tough issues. I am mystified as to how Voyager could possibly outrank DS9 when so many of VOY’s episodes are so wooden and clunky. (My god, it should lose a star just for the Kazon alone!) DS9 is eminently re-watchable and I am beyond stoked that they’re looking at giving it the Bluray treatment, like TNG, if there’s enough demand.

  4. I think it boils down to whether you prefer a purely Gene Roddenberry vision of Star Trek, or whether you like some other influences peppered in there… The best concise onscreen example of this is in First Contact with Picard’s diatribe in the observation lounge aboard Enterprise-E as the Borg are advancing. He presents it as though humans are evolved… and rightly so, Lily calls BS. Humans are in a better position to be generous, but with their backs against the wall, or when injured, they’re undoubtedly as dangerous and petty as ever… and DS9 as a whole exemplified that struggle: striving to be the humanity Gene Roddenberry wanted to be universal… But in some ways the failures are just as compelling, or moreso. After all, it was only once Picard realized that he was Ahab that he pulled back. His better self did win, but it is boring without the struggle. I mean, if Data hadn’t been tempted, even for a fraction of a second, the story doesn’t hold up… the same is true of our heroes in DS9… they’re a truer reflection and thus infinitely interesting. It’s also the same as Kirk’s racism in Undiscovered Country… I wouldn’t give up those details for the utopian Roddenberry fantasy for a second.

  5. I’m definitely in that camp, Mike. Well said. Over thousands of millennia, our culture is little different than our forebears. Yes, technology has improved and on many moral fronts we’ve made progress. But I have a hard time believing that even with a First Contact scenario, humankind would be able to set aside not only thousands of years of culture but millions of years of evolution to embrace the selflessness and the utopianism that Roddenberry espoused. I think having those goalposts is admirable, but it’s far easier to believe in an idealistic, but flawed, Federation than it is to embrace the vision that many purists have of a wholly egalitarian, humanist future. Maybe in a few thousand years, but almost certainly not within a few hundred.

  6. And, to follow on to that and to my points, I don’t really even think Gene Roddenberry’s Trek was actually what Gene Roddenberry ultimately presented as his Trek… In other words, the reality of TOS was different than what was suggested after the fact. Take, for instance, this grand Federation he created… And then look at the Conference of Babel. One big happy Federation? Indeed… I honestly believe that Roddenberry disliked a lot of the stuff Nicholas Meyer did because it was him doing it and not Roddenberry. I mean, what exactly is more militaristic in TWOK than previous Trek? That he calls Saavik “Mister”? That a boson whistles people aboard? It’s not like he was Uncle Jim in TOS and became Captain Kirk in the movies… The military aspect was there before the Federation was! In TOS, there wasn’t really a Federation at the beginning… at least not from the writer’s perspective. That came as production proceeded. But it didn’t change the fact that they were certainly a military organization… and yes, many of his utopian notions and morality play issues are there in full bloom, but some are not and have been augmented over the years, to the detriment of the continued legacy of Gene Roddenberry.

  7. I think they should make a miniseries. 3 1 hour shows telling a new story. Sisko comes back from the worrmhole to confront a new threat. why not the Shedai? the Prophet’s old enemy…..

  8. To be brutally frank, I think that Roddenberry was getting on in years and wasn’t able to write as good as when he was younger (going from the open-minded, live and let live stance he had about the characters in TOS to the closed-minded stance that he had for Picard & the gang in TNG, and saying that they should be just this way and nothing else)-this showed up in the writing, and made the characters somewhat stiff in comparison to the TOS characters. It was blunted by Ira Steven Behr and his staff on DS9 somewhat (and it made the characters better) but was reinforced by Berman & Braga (due partly to network dictates, but just as much because both men decided to just blindly follow Roddenberry’s dictates on what the 24 century was supposed to be like) for Voyager and Enterprise.

    I think that it was better for the Star Trek movies with the original cast not to have Roddenberry be writing or directing any of them; I only wish that this was followed somewhat for TNG, with only the basic sketches of the characters followed, and then with Roddenberry just being kicked upstairs as other directed and wrote the show.

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