The anonymous team behind the Twitter Account @trekdocs regularly reveals documents from Star Trek’s long history (see TrekMovie interview from earlier this year on more about them). Today they posted notes from a 1992 UK casting session for main characters in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The list includes Alexendar Siddig (under his real name Siddig El Fadil) who landed the job as Dr. Julian Bashir (called Amoros at the time). But what grabs even more attention are some of the names who auditioned for Benjamin Sisko, the starring role which eventually went to Avery Brooks.
Notes from a UK casting session for DS9. Includes Alexander Siddig, @AnthonySHead, and HOLY CRAP PETER CAPALDI. July 23, 1992. pic.twitter.com/yTzKfUFMDq
— trekdocs (@trekdocs) September 7, 2017
The UK actors who auditioned for Sisko include Anthony Head (Rupert Giles of Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and Peter Capaldi, who plays the soon to be departing Twelfth Doctor on the BBC sci-fi show Doctor Who. This documents tweet was followed up quickly by the Twitter account of for the What We Left Behind DS9 documentary, which showed screen caps of the auditions of Capaldi and Head.
We can do you one better, @trekdocs. Here's a sneak peek at some original audition tapes from 1992. #DS9 #AuditionTapes #WhatWeLeftBehind pic.twitter.com/zT56qpkxtB
— The DS9 Documentary (@DS9Doc) September 7, 2017
Was The Doctor almost The Sisko? – probably not
Capaldi, while best known for his more recent roles in Doctor Who and The Thick of It, has a career going back to the 80s and would likely have been able to deliver an interesting performance as Benjamin Sisko. The same is true of many of the actors listed on the UK call sheet. But how serious was Paramount with these auditions? Were they really going to hire another white British actor to lead a series which would run concurrently with Star Trek: The Next Generation, starring Patrick Stewart?
In my recent interview with Deep Space Nine executive producer and showrunner Ira Steven Behr I asked about the casting of Sisko. Here is the exchange.
TrekMovie.com: When the show was cast, was Sisko always going to be an African-American, or did you guys just like Avery?
Ira Steven Behr: When [co-creator] Michal Piller started his insidious plan to bring me back into the fold – so sitting together at baseball games, when he mentioned it to me, he mentioned to me as an African-American captain. Some people say that is too specific and that it was definitely going to be a brown person, definitely not a Caucasian. They hadn’t necessarily locked in to that person being African-American.
I actually have some of the auditions and some were sent in from England from some very good British actors. So they were covering on all fronts, but I think that was all just due diligence. It was always going to be a brown captain.
It may be that this interview and Ira’s mention of auditions sent in from England inspired the @TrekDocs team to dig up this sheet and post it online. And it appears that even though there were many strong British actors auditioning for the part, DS9 creators Rick Berman and Michael Piller were just doing “due diligence” and were determined to cast a non-white actor.
UPDATE: Just a coincidence
Turns out the recent TrekMovie interview talking about Sisko auditions from the UK and this document reveal was just one of those coincidences.
Total coincidence we posted so close to Ira interview. Great quote though – when casting lead you go all out even if already have a plan.
— trekdocs (@trekdocs) September 7, 2017
DS9 doc looking into including audition clips
Hopefully we will be able to see more of these auditions in the What We Left Behind documentary or maybe in some bonus features. Documentary co-producerKai de Mello-Folsom tells TrekMovie that they “are still early in the approvals and licensing process to see if we will include segments from these auditions in the film, and if they will serve our story at large, but our team has had a great time watching these alternate takes from other great performers and hope we’ll be able to share at least a selection with the DS9 fanbase.”
He was also able to share an additional image of Capaldi’s audition which comes are courtesy of a VHS tape from Ira Steven Behr’s personal collection which was recently uncovered through the project.
That What We Left Behind doc should arrive by this time next year. For more infomraiton visit ds9documentary.com.
I’ve always wanted to see Anthony as a Starfleet Captain or Admiral but Avery was perfect for the role. I can’t imagine Sisko without that booming baritone voice.
@PEB — There’s a lot right about the casting choice for Sisko, I just wish Brooks were a stronger actor. He’s one of the reasons I can’t really watch DS9 to this day. There’s something so stilted and halting about his approach to acting, that feels unnatural and forced to me. Even simple lines of dialogue seem belabored from him. But otherwise you’re right about that baritone voice — that’s now a defining characteristic of Sisko regardless of whomever plays him in the future.
Wow. I never really imagines what a young Peter Capaldi looked like.
He looked a lot like Rowan Atkinson if you ask me. Mr Bean was very popular back then :-)
watch bill Forsyth’s ‘local hero’
‘were we that young?’
‘no, you were younger’
I watched that again just a few weeks ago.
I first saw it in my high school’s Film History class. When I looked up Capaldi after he’d been cast as the new Doctor, I realized he was in this movie and bought a copy. It’s out of print, but you can usually find a used copy on DVD.
Hey, if anyone is still here: Capaldi is also in The Lair of the White Worm, with some other young unknown, and later in the Neil Gaiman scripted Neverwhere.
Art Malik? That would CERTAINLY have been very different Sisko!
Peter Capaldi would’ve been 34 years old in 1992. I’m sorry, but there’s no way he would’ve been cast as Benjamin Sisko, because he barely looks *24* in that photo!
Capaldi looked very young for some years, but now that he looks more his age (and much more interesting than he did as a kid, in my view), people like to complain that he’s old and ugly. Whatever. No, I love Capaldi (who could probably have brought gravitas at any age, despite looking like a kid), but Avery Brooks was the appropriate choice at the time.
Peter Firth would also have been an interesting choice!
Quite honestly, I couldn’t see anyone else in that role. Sisko has always been my second favorite Captain behind Kirk, perhaps my favorite non-TOS character period. I would’ve loved to have seen him as a defacto co-star in First Contact, having been saved alongside Worf in the Defiant and going back in time with the Enterprise crew to fight the Borg. The subplot of Sisko not trusting Picard and Picard eventually earning it in the end (essentially switching places with Data in the ending as Locutus) would’ve given that film another layer that I feel it missed. Oh well, what could’ve been.
Ok I would pay to see that film!
If memory serves, Berman’s favorite for Sisko was Siddig… until he learned the actor was much younger than he thought. That might explain casting the net in that direction. Ralph Brown = Ric Olie! AKA Captain Obvious.
And another Alien franchise vet: William “Asshole Gorman” Hope.
They chose well with Avery but man it would have been interesting to see either Capaldi or Head in a Star Trek series. Looks like Siddig made an impression: first guy seen, and get got the part he was aiming for (I assume Amoros was an early name for Bashir.) Sian Phillips would have made an interesting Kai Opaka – I think she’d have been very much like Celia Lovsky, who played the original T’Pau in Amok Time. Good thing Head didn’t get the Sisko part – he wouldn’t have played Giles in Buffy.
Capaldi or Head would be interesting from nowadays POV because we know them from Buffy and Doctor Who, but back then, they would have been pale in that role. Brooks was the PERFECT choice. He made an impression from day one and really kicked it when going bald in Season 4.
While I love Brooks and the Sisko we got, I think Capaldi would have been an interesting choice specifically because of how different he would have been. In those days he was mostly known for playing sensitive, vulnerable characters (anyone who only knows him as the Doctor or Malcolm Tucker should watch Prime Suspect 3 where he played a transsexual drag artist), so his Sisko would probably have been utterly different from any other starfleet captain we’ve ever seen.
I think today’s Peter Capaldi would have made a great Sisko, with his commanding voice and ‘attack eyebrows’. 1992 Capaldi, not so much. I can’t, however, truly envisage anyone other than Avery Brooks in the role – he had a certain authority, swagger, and glint in his eye I can’t quite see in anyone else.
I would love to see Peter Capaldi get a different role in Trek. He’s a brilliant actor. And an Oscar winning director. Given his portrayal as The Doctor, I think he’d be great in a Bones kind of role – the jaded cynic who is, beneath the surface, a humanist optimist.
And, if any of you have not caught him in his seminal role yet, check out The Thick of It: the show from which Veep was a spin-off.
When casting Voyager, the production team also looked a male and British actors to play Captain Janeway if the network and studio rejected having a female lead for the project. One of the British male contenders, Nigel Havers, went on to portray Sarah’s ill-fated fiance in “The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith” on “The Sarah Jane Adventures.”