With 2018 as the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, there was a lot of attention given to the show at Star Trek Las Vegas. We already covered the panel for the forthcoming What We Left Behind documentary, but after going over our remaining material from the show, there are some more highlights and interesting comments from the cast and crew of DS9, including the surprising way the showrunner wanted the show to end, how one of the stars was reluctant to join and what some other actors wanted to do with their characters, but never had the chance.
Behr pitched dream ending for DS9
The final panel of Star Trek Las Vegas was dedicated to one of the more interesting episodes of Deep Space Nine, “Far Beyond The Stars.” The sixth season episode was framed as a vision given to Benjamin Sisko by the Wormhole Alien Prophets, where he was a 1950s science fiction writer named Benny Russell, who comes up with a story about an African American commander of a futuristic space station. At the panel DS9 showrunner, Ira Steven Behr said he was attracted to the story pitch from writer Marc Scott Zicree because of how it dealt directly with racism, as well as how it was “about the dreamer and the dream and who is dreaming and what they are dreaming about.”
Behr was so drawn to this story within a story that he wanted to use it again for the series finale, telling the Vegas crowd of his radical idea on how to end the series:
I did pitch to Rick Berman that the final episode would end up with Benny Russell on Stage 17 at Paramount, wandering around the soundstages, realizing that this whole construct, this whole series, that we had done for seven years, was just in Benny’s head. That is how I wanted to end the series. And Rick said “Does this mean The Original Series was in Benny’s head? Does this mean Voyager was in Benny’s head?” I said “Hey man, I don’t care who is dreaming those shows, I only care about Deep Space Nine and yes, Benny Russell is dreaming Deep Space Nine.” He didn’t go for it.
Lofton’s love for Brooks is real
On that same panel when asked about the bond shown on screen between Benjamin Sisko and his son Jake Sisko, actor Cirroc Loften talked about how real it is:
That is just a real thing that we have, just like [Nog actor] Aron [Eisenberg] and I have a real thing. What we do is real and how we feel is real. To be able to translate it onto film, is the magic of it. So the relationship with Avery [Brooks] is a natural real love that I have, a real bond that I share.
de Boer talks trans connection with Ezri, Behr regrets not exploring
During another DS9 group panel, moderated by Ira Steven Behr, actress Nicole de Boer, who joined the series in the seventh season as Ezri Dax, talked about how she learned while on the show how the character connected with a particular segment of fans, saying:
When I first played Ezri, as a Trill, it hadn’t quite occurred to me I was playing the whole idea of the social anxiety and discomfort of being this new person, and how that affects the relationships you’re going through. Fans start to send you all this lovely fan mail and you realize how much you’ve helped people. They say “Ezri Dax helped me through some very hard times, because she was wanting to be accepted, it was very awkward for her.” And then as more time got on, I was learning about how Ezri Dax meant a lot to people who identify as non-binary or trans and then it hit me “of course that makes so much sense.” Ezri Dax continues to inform me and I continue to learn from her from hearing from fans how much she’s meant to them.
Behr jumped in on that discussion, revealing a regret he has about this issue:
It’s interesting that Nikki said that, one of things we’ve been talking about while we’ve been doing the [DS9 documentary] is that we could have handled that issue, we did a wonderful episode “Rejoined”, we could have done more. We certainly had the characters and the opportunity. The ‘90s were a different time, I guess. That’s definitely one of the things I regret.
Meaney wasn’t sure about DS9
During another panel at STLV, actor Colm Meaney spoke about how he was initially reluctant to make the jump from his recurring role as Miles O’Brien on Star Trek: The Next Generation:
I went to Deep Space Nine kind of reluctantly, I had been recurring on Next Generation, I wasn’t a series regular, and I kinda didn’t want to give up the freedom I had on Next Generation, I could go and do whatever other projects I wanted to do without having to ask permission. But Rick Berman persuaded me, and said that any film I really wanted to do, he’d release me. He was true to his word for seven years.
Hatae beat room full of twins to become Molly
On the same panel with Colm Meaney was actress Hana Hatae, who had nothing but great memories about her time on DS9 playing the young Molly O’Brien, starting when she was only four years old, but saying “it was such a good experience, everyone treated me like a like a little princess.” And apparently she must have really nailed her audition, as she explained how she beat out all the twin competition:
I don’t remember, my mom told me that we walked into the audition area, it was full of all twins. And she thought there’s no way you’re getting this. When you’re young they prefer twins because there’s only a certain amount of time that you’re allowed on set to work. So, I went into the audition room by myself. I don’t remember a single thing [about the audition], but my mom told me that when I walked out everyone was just laughing hysterically. I don’t think I even got a callback, it was just like “hey she’s got the role.”
Masterson wanted Leeta to have an edge, Darren wanted Vic to hook up
During the DS9 group panel, moderated Ira Steven Behr, got the actors to talk about what they wished the writers had done with their characters. Chase Masterson thought there was more potential in her Dabo girl Leeta, saying:
I would have loved for Leeta have more obvious guts and more edge. Something where she came in to save the day, because you wouldn’t have expected that of Leeta.
As for James Darren, the Vic Fontaine actor was hoping for some love:
What I wanted, was a little love interest of some kind. Anything. Just a little fling. That character Vic, was pretty hip, he’d been around the block a few times, he knew all the guys, he knew Sammy, and Frank, and Dean.
Behr replied, “The holosuite could have been running when we weren’t there, who knows what Vic was doing.”
Behr also opened up the panel for the actors to discuss what they saw as their defining moment from working on DS9. Here are what some of them had to say:
Nicole de Boer:
My first definite defining moment was my very first scene that I had to do. Coming in and seeing Avery and Brock Peters in the room and having to come in on that first day and having to say “it’s me Ezri Dax.” I was nervous, but very prepared and very excited for it. It’s a very vivid memory.
[On the final day of shooting] at lunch we were all in a soundstage, about 300 of us, every one that worked on the show, we all had lunch together. They were playing “The Magnificent Ferengi” and other episodes on televisions around the room, and the defining moment, is that Ira got up on the scaffolding, because it was a large room and everyone needed to see, and Ira stood there and told us how much working on this show, and the show itself, meant to him.
I’m claustrophobic, the more pieces [of latex] they put on, the weirder it got and the more scared I got. Then they put that black rug, they called a wig, on and then they put on that furniture pad they called a costume, and I’m sweating like a pig. I’m thinking I gotta call my agent, I gotta get out of this. Then I looked in the mirror, and I saw this thing looking back at me, and the actor in me, who is smart, knew it was an opportunity.
A defining moment for me was when I sang with Avery. And another was of course, the end of the show, which we almost never got through my singing “The Way You Look Tonight,” because every time I got to Nana, I’d be singing to her and she’d start crying and then I’d start crying, so they’d have to cut.
Click here to see the rest of our STLV coverage.