Nana Visitor (Kira Nerys from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) stopped by The Alpha Quadrant webcast last weekend to join Garrett Wang (Voyager‘s Harry Kim), Aron Eisenberg (DS9‘s Nog), and producer EvelDick Donato to reminisce about her days on Star Trek and explain why we won’t be seeing her on The Orville anytime soon.
Asking to double-dip as both Kira and Janeway
During Deep Space Nine‘s run, when Voyager had just gone into production, Visitor heard that Genviève Bujold, who’d been cast as Captain Janeway, had quit a few days into shooting. While producers scrambled to replace her, Visitor decided that despite the exhaustingly long days already a part of her life on DS9, the role was a gem, and she wanted it:
Can you believe I had the nerve? I accosted Rick Berman in the street right in front of Stage 4 at Paramount and said, “Why not? Why? Why can’t I?” Because you know, they had the mix-up, and they fired the person they hired, and all of that stuff. And I said, “I can do both!” … I don’t know what I was thinking. And he was like – he practically patted me on the head, and said, ‘No, we’re gonna get a whole other actress for that.’”
Garrett Wang on why Bujold Quit Voyager
After confessing this, Visitor was surprised when Wang told her that Bujold hadn’t been fired, she’d quit. He described what it was like for Bujold on set.
We would shoot, and and she’d just run off of set, she wouldn’t even socialize. So I stopped her, I kind of blocked her path, I asked her, “Hey, how’s it going?” And she stopped, and she kinda gave me the once over, and she felt like, “Hm, I guess I can share with this guy.” And it was Genviève Bujold, the French-Canadian actress, so she looks at me and she says, [in French accent by Garrett] “I feel as eef I cannot trust anyone.” I said, “What do you mean by that?” She said, “Well, I come in, and I want Janeway to be Captain first, woman second. I don’t want hairstyle, I don’t want lot of makeup, but I come to work, and they give me hair, they do my make-up, and they lie to me.”
So she quit the second day, and she realized that the shooting schedule would be crazy, and she had two very young children at home, so maybe ages three and five, and she thought, ‘I’m never going to see this kids grow up, I’m not gonna be around. The shooting schedule’s nutty, they didn’t do the things they promised me in the beginning…’ and thank god she quit before we aired one episode, right?
He then added this little tidbit:
…the rumor was this: if they couldn’t find a female Janeway, because they had a very exhaustive search for the first Janeway, they were gonna switch Janeway to a man, okay? Janeway was gonna become a guy, and at that point, the next rumor was, an existing cast member that was a male cast member, would be fired and then cast with a female, to keep the gender ratio the same.
Kira Nerys, an anomaly for 1993
They covered other fascinating topics, like Visitor’s first impressions of Kira Nerys, and how that affected her audition.
I remember going back and going, ‘No, wait a minute, this isn’t a woman’s role.’ This is … ’cause you gotta think 25 years ago, what I was getting was, you know, “Kids, get off that couch!” and sitcoms and really light stuff where [you were] the girlfriend or the victim or the killer. Nothing well-rounded. And this comes along and I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute this is a man’s role. They made a mistake.’ And when I found out it wasn’t a mistake I was so excited I remember, I had a dark green shift dress … and I went out and got a pair of Doc Martens, and the Doc Martens kind of informed me, where I was and who I was. I listened to a lot of rap back then, I still listen to rap, but I really pounded it in my car on the way to my audition, and that was my prep for it and I walked in and I was fully Kira when I walked in the room.
Despite getting the role after a mere two auditions–a breeze compared to the experiences of Wang and Enterprise‘s Connor Trinneer–she still had some adjustments to make.
Rick Berman said, “Uh, you walk down the Promenade like John Wayne. You’ve gotta stop that.” [laughs] It’s true, I did. I looked at footage lately it’s like oh my god I do look like John Wayne … So I thought, okay, put me in heels and I can’t walk like that.
Favorite Deep Space Nine episodes
Eisenberg asked what her favorite DS9 episodes were, and she cited “Far Beyond The Stars” as “spectacular” and mentioned “Our Man Bashir” (although she got the title mixed up with “Doctor Bashir, I Presume”).
It just doesn’t get better than to be able to play a Bond girl, basically, with the really bad Slavic accent, on a round bed, coming out of a wall. It’s ideal. I think I even had a cigarette in a cigarette holder. It was fabulous.
She said that her favorite was “Duet,” which she said “really got under my skin” and got her to understand Kira on an even deeper level–she even dreamed she was Kira, hiding in a Cardassian camp.
“Pissed” that she’s not on The Orville
Visitor has done voice work for Seth MacFarlane on Family Guy and also appeared in his film Ted 2, so it’s only natural that the guys asked her if they could expect to see her on The Orville, and she had a sad tale to tell:
I’m going to tell you something that I haven’t talked about. It is an exclusive, which is really annoying, but it’s not good news. When I was making the trip across country, moving from New York to L.A., I had to do it in a certain amount of time. And it had to be in a car because I have two old lady dogs and a parrot, and my oldest dog was not going to survive another plane. So, I auditioned the week before for The Orville. That Friday, my agent at the time got a call putting me on hold. She never told me. So I finalized plans, and started traveling across country, thinking I didn’t get it. Then she calls and tells me I got it, and I couldn’t – everything was already in motion. And I wrote Seth a note. I didn’t blame my agent at the time, but that’s really what happened. They lost me the job, and the fact that it put Seth in a bad position at the last minute … so there’s a bad taste in my mouth about losing a great part on The Orville and, you know, that’s been my last thing with Seth. It just pisses me off because I adore Seth.
About her role, she told them,
It was a leader of people who had to get everybody off her planet because it was going to explode, and she leaves her, she stays on it and sends her wife and child off.
Her description doesn’t match any of the twelve aired episodes from season one, so it may be from an upcoming season two episode, or perhaps it’s the second plot line from the 13th episode of season one that was held over to become part of season two.
Full Alpha Quadrant episode
Check out the rest of The Alpha Quadrant‘s webcast for more about life on Deep Space Nine, Visitor’s experience guest starring on shows throughout the 80s (which included working with Denise Crosby), how she learned to overcome her sports ineptitude for DS9‘s baseball episode (“Take Me Out to the Holosuite”), and her thoughts about Eisenberg when they first met, among other topics. You can also catch Wang’s Kate Mulgrew impression when he describes her reaction to the songs of DMX.