Nana Visitor interviewed (long post)


Sovs Favorite Moderator
Sep 30, 2000
Interesting tidbits

Nana talks about Kira, how she misses DS9, her current work and more
Author: AntonyF
Date: 12/4/00

Many Star Trek actors often try different things to their acting roles in Trek such as pitching ideas for stories and, in the case of many Trek stars, directing episodes. However Nana is happy not to go that route. "I`m strictly an actor," Nana explains. "My mates on the show wanted to direct and write, and did. A couple of the actors have written books based on their Star Trek characters, but my input has always been as an actor and a collaborative effort which has usually been me yelling across the table at the writers! But beyond that, no, I`ve never had thoughts on doing that."

That doesn`t mean that she hasn`t given thoughts to Kira`s fate after Deep Space Nine`s end. "She definitely gets another promotion, and she`s commanding the Defiant, that`s for sure. That`s for sure!" she says firmly. "The defiant goes out-she`s in the chair. Those things are very inappropriately important to me, and that was during the series. Now that she`s commanding the station I imagine her getting more and more politically involved in Bajor and frankly, although I don`t think this would really ever happen, I`d like to see her become Starfleet."

Bajor didn`t get accepted into the Federation in the show`s run, and Kira`s inclusion as a Starfleet officer in the final arc was purely an honorary one. Why would it be good for Kira to join Starfleet? "Because I`d like to see what would happen when you take a loose cannon and put them clearly in that universe," Nana states empathetically. "That was the whole premise of the show, Starfleet against these people who really didn`t live by those rules and seeing what happens. Now, one step further to me, would be to put her right inside of it and see what kind of struggle, and what the actual struggle is, tilted that way. It seems that no one has a problem living with the prime directive. I`d like to see someone struggle with it like she would, like a real loose cannon would."

Running for seven years with an entirely male writing staff could have posed problems when writing for female characters such as Kira, and the writing wasn`t always spot on. "I did find, here and there, there would be natural gaps in their understanding of female-specific responses. When Kira had a baby, and it`s Keiko`s baby she`s having, and she hands the baby over, they had written that she was `okay, glad that`s over, goodbye.` No matter whose baby you`re carrying, women know that your hormones respond in such a way that it would a difficult process, no matter what. There`d be some kind of difficulty, some kind of cross-wires about the whole thing, which of course makes it so much more interesting and complex. I was never shy of giving my input, and they were never shy about giving trouble about it when they thought I was coming off left field. I felt that if had to go to battle, maybe 75% of the time I got my way, and I thought that was pretty good. That`s just the responsibility you have as an actor, and the writers, I must say, were very responsive."

Indeed, Nana is quick to praise the writing of her favorite episode, season one`s "Duet." In the episode a Cardassian poses as notorious war criminal Gul Darhe`el, and Kira has to get to the bottom of why the man isn`t who he says he is. The episode is very highly regarded in the fan world too. "It was a show done very early on, and it was done as a bottle show. It was to save money, because they`d spent all their funds on special effects for other episodes," she explains. "So they had this idea of two people, two people in a cell. It`s my favorite episode because I thought they pulled off the writing beautifully, and it was a moving and important show about racism, and Major Kira`s racism. It was the episode that made me think the most. Just as an actor, I had to think really hard about where this woman lay, and also playing someone who was just flawed in her thinking, and doing that honestly. So that`s still my favorite episode."

When thinking of what she misses most about her work on Deep Space Nine, her answer comes quickly. "That`s easy: I miss being part of a tribe. And we were a huge tribe! When all the regular cast were in a team that was a director`s nightmare, because we`re like a pack and uncontrollable. When you get a group of people together who are like-minded and have been through a lot, it`s so powerful and satisfying, and I miss that the most." What she misses least comes just as easily. "The hours. Through the seven years our hours were 16 to 28 hours a day, and you don`t have a life. It certainly allows your mind to slip very comfortably into the universe you`re existing in. I remember being on the Promenade and going, `This is starting to feel where I actually live`. Lack of sleep and living so much in one place can do that to you. It was hard, very hard. And sleep deprivation was hard as well. It`s something that people don`t think of; you`re trying to do great work and sometimes the situation is stacked against you because you`re just exhausted, and your brain is turning to jelly. If I had my druthers I would have done all the shows in peak condition, but that`s impossible when you`re doing an hour television series."

Part of the extensive hours on set were due to her makeup, where she needed to have her trademark Bajoran nose applied and removed each day. "It took two hours in the morning and 20 minutes to take off," she says. "It was interesting to me because I thought they`d have some special glue that you put prosthetics on with, and it just come off easily but sticks all day. Uh-Uh, they just use glue! I mean practically wood glue, so it took 20 minutes to get the damn thing off at the end of the day."

Star Trek`s main target demographic is young men; however Nana doesn`t feel she has a different perspective of men because of this. "I don`t think of it as me having a unique angle on men, but maybe men finding a way into seeing a unique angle on women. I think that I got a great such a great opportunity with Kira, to be this creature that didn`t follow certain gender rules. I loved it, I loved it," she says emphatically, "when a ten year old boy comes up to me and says `You`re a hero, you`re a big hero to me`. I`m not sure how many years ago that happened, but that was such ginger to me with the show. In terms of what appeals to me, we didn`t know what we were doing. I didn`t approach Kira going `Okay, I have to appeal to the 18—49 year old men.` I really tried to be truthful about what I thought this person was, and it seemed to appeal to a great many people."

Nana recently provided her vocal talents to "The Fallen" computer game, in which you can play the role of Major Kira in the search for lost red orbs. Although not a TV episode, it`s still the first DS9 production to use the cast`s talent since the show`s end. But did it bring back old memories? "What a good question that is, yes it did. And Kira`s just like a heartbeat away from me. I can just remember her, and she`s back with me. One never knows, especially in the Star Trek universe, but I`d like to play an incarnation of her again."

She is also very pleased with the game`s positive reception. "I`m thrilled! I`m thrilled because I think that people do avoid Deep Space Nine. My fellow cast members and I always said that the show would be discovered later on, that people would hook into it. From what I can tell from the guy on the street kind of response, I think that`s true. I think people are finding the show now, and that there`s a game to go along with that trend-at this time-is kind of like perfect timing. I`m thrilled that it lives up to what I think Deep Space Nine was about."

Providing her voice to see the game seems natural to Visitor. "It`s funny, when I get recognized, it`s usually by people hearing my voice. My looks change, but my voice is really recognized as being behind Major Kira, even if they`re not looking and just hear my voice." Nana was honored to be able to able to work on the project, eve if it was a demanding one. "I am pleased that they bothered enough to get me in there, that`s a big thrill. It seemed to be very quick, and essential. The guys connected to the game where charming people, and it was fun and I got to see what it was about, and what it looked like, before I went into a studio and laid it down. The look of it is pretty stunning," she says happily. "It was always interesting. `Now, okay you die falling off a cliff.` `Now you die drowning,`" she laughs. "It was, challenging, more challenging that people realize, because you`re dealing with the ultimate of experiences in life and death, and deep moments of crisis, in a couple of hours. And it`s more than you can imagine, every way to die and every way to be in crisis."

As well as Nana`s vocal talents, a number of DS9 stars have also lent their voices to the game including Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax) and Michael Dorn (Worf). Was it spooky hearing all the voices of her co-stars in the game? "There`s so many things that are spooky. I find myself going into some safe haven in my mind, like when I look at the doll of Kira for the first time-or the action figure really, as it`s supposed to be called-this little effigy of yourself. You can go wow, I have an effigy, and it`s in this plastic stuff. It just suddenly becomes normal life. Yeah, coffee and a cup. Yeah, they`re my cast mate`s voices. I`m in the game and I`m able to make myself run through this corridor and die in some horrific way! It just becomes part of normal life."

Nana is quick to admit that she`s not a gamer, however, and hasn`t played with "The Fallen" a lot. "I am not a gamer- at all-in any way, shape, or form. But I have played the game, and I take great pleasure, of course, in making Kira do all kinds of things. I get great pleasure out of that, that was a lot of fun. I can see where I might actually sit down and seriously learn it, and play it… I can see myself doing that."

From her experience of working on "The Fallen," would she be willing to work on another computer game? "It would depend on the game," Nana explains honestly. "I have to say the violence of a lot of games concerns me, and I wouldn`t want to be involved in something like that. As soon as you say it`s something to do with Star Trek there`s some ethical structure, just with the name. So that makes me comfortable being involved. Sure, you can kill her and do this and that, but it`s not the same kind of violence I`ve seen on some of the games."

Nana`s children, four-year old Django (son of Nana`s husband and DS9 co-star Alexander Siddig) and eight-year old Buster (from Nana`s previous marriage), won`t be playing "The Fallen" however, and it`s not due to any violence in the game. "I don`t think I`ll let my sons play it because it`ll be `How many ways can we make momma die.` There`s something really perverse about that," she laughs.

With the media often attributing violence to computer games and television, any parent would be concerned. Nana has, like any mother, got her own views on the serious matter. "Is it possible to deny that violence is a part of life and that people then treat each other they way they do? Are there irresponsible depictions of it? Yeah, I think so. Do I think it incites people? Yes, I do. I know that a lot of people would argue that, but that`s a personal view," she says. "I think there are really irresponsible people. There always seems that these people that have to make huge profits. How disgusting can we be, how far can we push that envelope? Then they come up with a concept and it doesn`t really have a structure around it, or any kind of rhyme or reason to it. That is a kind of pornography, then violence becomes pornography, and that`s when I think it becomes dangerous."

If a game was created, not about the DS9 franchise, but about Kira specifically, Nana has some ideas of what she`d like to see. "The fact that I`m a parent comes into the whole thing, I`d like to see a very mind-bending test-like game. I`m sure that`s how they design the game, by what people love to do. It would be fun if it was like Ultimata Online, that sort of universe, where you have to chop your own wood, build your house of oak, and someone steals your keys. If you really had to live during an occupation, that would be a very interesting idea to me. Go through what she went through when Cardassia was occupying Bajor, what life is like, the hardship, running from the enemy, all that stuff. That might be very interesting," she ponders.

Nana and Sid may be free of the grueling DS9 filming schedule, but life doesn`t slow down for the busy showbiz family. "Actually, at the moment I`m not enjoying more time with the family. I`m doing a musical in New Haven, which has aspirations to go to Broadway, called "Golden Boy." So I`m in a small theatre singing my heart out at the moment. It`s about two hours from New York City, and the boys are in school. So I go back and forth, and they go back and forth. What I can tell you? Their mom is an actress!" We`re not strangers to Nana`s beautiful singing voice, having heard her singing "Fever" in the season six episode "His Way." "I`m very smoky," she says of her singing voice.

Nana does have her ideal theatre role in mind, but she`s not suitable for the part. Nana, not suitable you ask? There is a valid reason, as she takes time to explain. "I do have a dream stage role, and what I love is that I`m too young for it! In twenty years I`d love to do Mama Rose in "Gypsy." I watched Angela Lansbury do it when I was working with her. I would watch off stage just about every night and she was just amazing, she was so wonderful. I`d love to do my own version, someday."

Thinking about Deep Space Nine again, it is through a certain amount of fate that Nana Visitor was even in the show. The role was originally going to be that of the character of Ro Laren from TNG, however actress Michelle Forbes declined the role. So the writers created a new character that turned out to be Kira Nerys. Aside from in a novel, the characters of Kira and Ro have never met. If they got into a fight, Nana isn`t sure who would win. "I`ve been asked about Xena, and it`s very clear-cut who would win that one. But with Ro Laren, I`d have to say that`s a fight I`d like to see. They`re pretty equally matched, and we`d just have to see who remains standing."

The Trek franchise carries on with another film and series on the way. The franchise is immense, but it doesn`t phase Nana at all. "It`s something that becomes normal, as bizarre as that is. There are actors in the show that I`m doing right now that say `Oh, I fell asleep to your voice` or `Oh, I woke up in the middle of the night to hear your voice,` which seems like kind of a nightmare to me! It becomes just of daily life. I had, however many years, and it`s been a part of me. It seems normal."

The franchise may trundle on, but the question that many people are thinking is that of DS9`s chances of hitting the big screen. "I think it would make a great movie," she says positively, "because we were like a repertory company. We were actors, almost all of us came from theatre and we could all hit. We could handle a movie very well." However she isn`t optimistic when it comes to the odds of it happening. "The important thing is do I think they`ll do a DS9 movie? No, I don`t think so. Maybe someone`s going dock at Deep Space Nine on the way to some battle or something like that, and I`ll be there to hand them a Raktajino. But I think that`ll be the extent."

So although no movie is in sight, DS9 continues via a computer game, comic books and a relaunched PocketBooks series that starts next year. Nana is happy that the show lives on. "I think it`s an amazing phenomenon, one that I didn`t expect," she explains happily. "The life of this show goes on and on, and I think it`s fantastic. I don`t know what my real contribution to it will be, other than people living with the show for years after I`ve been involved. That`s very satisfying. It`s not a job that I did where I`d go `Oh God I`ve got to look at that now for the next some odd years.` I`m proud of it. I`m very proud of it."


First Prime of ASciFi
Jul 21, 2000
I'll have to come back and read this one after I've waded through all the other new posts.