DS9’s Nana Visitor And Armin Shimerman Talk Emotional ‘Lower Decks’ Moments (And Quark’s Teeth)

TrekMovie - Nana Visitor and Armin Shimerman talk Lower Decks with Cirroc Lofton

Last week, we finally got the long-awaited Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode of Lower Decks, Hear All, Trust Nothing.” The visit to the titular space station included appearances from two of its well-known inhabitants, Colonel Kira Nerys and Quark, voiced by original actors Nana Visitor and Armin Shimerman. Their Ds9 co-star Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) co-hosts The 7th Rule podcast and seized the opportunity to invite his former colleagues on to talk about resurrecting their roles 23 years after the DS9 series finale. We have some of the the highlights.

Getting the call to guest star

Cirroc asked both actors if there was a lot of discussion about how their characters’ returns would be handled before they agreed to guest star, and Visitor said no, there was no big discussion about how things would go or how Kira would be represented:

Visitor: It’s all kind of cut and dried. It was sort of the way I was cast in just about any job. It’s just like, “You want to do this?” “Yeah.” “Okay, let’s go.” It wasn’t like we’re going to be good to you or anything like that. I’d seen Lower Decks, so I already trusted that they they have a finger on the pulse of what makes Star Trek so great, so I knew that that was already in play.  I wasn’t nervous. It was like, ‘Yep, let’s do this.’

Shimerman hadn’t seen the show, but was still enthusiastic about resurrecting Quark.

Shimerman: It was flattering. And it was a nod of recognition by the fact that they recreated our characters, you know, that Kira and Quark came back, that is a nod of recognition. So I assumed that would be a good thing.

Cirroc Lofton, Ryan T. Husk, Armin Shimerman, and Nana Visitor on The 7th Rule podcast

Cirroc Lofton, Ryan T. Husk, Armin Shimerman, and Nana Visitor on The 7th Rule podcast

Everyone loved their first glimpse of the station

Much like those of us watching, all three Deep Space Nine vets had strong reactions when they saw the finished episode, particularly when the Cerritos arrived at the station and circled those pylons.

Visitor said she got emotional, but also got the Lower Decks vibe immediately.

Visitor: I’ll tell you, seeing the station, and hearing the music when I watched the episode was surprisingly emotional. It choked me up. And then of course, they’ve got a laugh right there, which I laughed right along with, so it got me right at the top with everything it could.

Shimerman had a similar reaction.

Shimerman: I agree with Nana—when I heard the music, I too was choked up. And of course the laugh came as well. It was surprising how that music affected me just being shown on national TV one more time.

Lofton agreed and noted how the rhythm of the show even felt a little different as a result.

Lofton: I actually felt like I was visiting Deep Space 9. I felt transported back to Deep Space Nine because of the exterior shot because of the music. It sent me there like right away. And even the pace of certain things in the music. It was different. It was… how we used to film our show, they didn’t have the bang-bang-bang jokes that they normally have on Lower Decks, they actually use the Deep Space Nine kind of tempo a little bit in this episode.

The Cerritos arrives at Deep Space 9

The Cerritos arrives at Deep Space 9

Recording their Lower Decks dialogue

Showrunner Mike McMahan was a guest on 7th Rule the previous week and he talked to Lofton about his process when directing actors for Lower Decks. Here is how McMahan described how it might go (with the conceit that he’s directing Cirroc Lofton as Jake):

McMahan: I’d be like, ‘Okay, let’s run the scene back and forth.’ And we’ll record the audio doing it and then we have a baseline. And then I’ll be like, ‘Okay, this line when you do it, give me three of this one, where you heighten how pissed you are, because I’m not sure how pissed I want you to be.’

And then like, at the end of it, I usually ask for two things. I’d be like, ‘Okay, pretend I’m the world’s worst director. Give me a take that you wish I had asked for that, like that I missed,’ and then the last one is usually because sometimes I have a blind spot and a performer will give me something where I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s better than I would have thought of because your whole other artists that’s working right, thinking about it.’

But then other times, I’m like, ‘Now we’ve done the Lower Decks version. Give me the Deep Space Nine like you’re on set, don’t worry about it being an animated show. Don’t worry about being funny. Give me Jake Sisko on set, how would you perform this? You know, for Ira for whoever was there.’ You know what I mean? And then we get interesting choices there too, where at the last minute, I’ll be like, ‘Wait, take that speeded up slightly.’ Then we have this this bank of stuff we take and then we listen to all the audio and we stitch it all together.

Shimerman talked to Lofton and co-host Ryan T. Husk about how McMahan helped him figure out how to approach his character in this specific, new context.

Shimerman: Michael was very helpful about how to approach the show; after all, there’s a different tone to Lower Decks than there is to Deep Space Nine and I had to be introduced to that tone. And he often did say, as you said, that now try any way, like just do whatever you want. And there were a couple of takes where I did do that and they seemed to appreciate that. So it was a very enjoyable experience. And the only part that was not enjoyable was they constantly told me how good Nana was, then I was having to live up to that expectation. [laughter]

Shimerman loved the first glimpse of his character, saying he “was amused by the fact in the opening scene, I’m doing basically what I do at conventions: signing autographs.”

Visitor appreciated the way the Quark/Kira relationship was still familiar, but updated, saying:

Visitor: The interaction with Quark …  almost like two old vaudevillians who, at this point, just go through the motions of  ‘Yeah, I can’t stand you. But you know, I love you’ kind of saying, I thought that was great.

She also found the Shaxs/Kira pair-up helpful:

Visitor: It gave me a backstory that the little character, drawn character that I was in this show, had a backstory immediately with another character…  It supported me in that role.

Kira and Shaxs on Star Trek: Lower Decks

Kira and Shaxs reconnect

The importance of Quark’s teeth

Some fans felt like there was something a little different about Shimerman’s voice performance; on TrekMovie’s All Access Star Trek podcast there was speculation that he didn’t have his Quark teeth in, then after that, Shimerman tweeted that yes, he did. But it turns out there’s more to that story, as he told 7th Rule; Shimerman had the same reaction when we watched the final product:

Shimerman: I know I wore the teeth but when I listened to the show, it doesn’t sound like I’m wearing teeth yet And yet I’m quite sure I wore them… what I remember what I hear are divergent are really at odds with each other. I don’t know what they did, because I know I had the teeth in my mouth. But it doesn’t sound like that.

Three weeks or four weeks before we ended the show, someone stole my teeth from the trailer. And so Mike [Westmore] had to make new teeth ASAP. But over the course of years, one’s teeth in their mouths change. And so those that I had in those last four weeks don’t fit my teeth anymore.

A couple of years back, I had to appear in England fully in costume and makeup. I had my niece, who’s a makeup artist, create new teeth, and I used those. But perhaps, because they’re not the original teeth, they’re not Mike Westmore teeth, perhaps they didn’t sound the way I remember hearing what the sound was. So that could probably explain it.

Quark posing with his fans on 'Star Trek: Lower Decks'

Quark shows his teeth

Missing those who couldn’t be there

Shimerman was happy to see Quark and Kira back on Star Trek, but lamented that more Deep Space Nine characters couldn’t be included. Lofton immediately brought up the late René Auberjonois:

Shimerman: I like to think that Mike McMahon and company would have come up with some deliciously hilarious scene between Quark and Odo. And you know, it’s it’s such a tragedy that we don’t get to see that and something amazing clearly between Odo and Kira, as well.

That brought the conversation around to Aron Eisenberg (Nog), much missed by all, and then Shimerman brought up another, more recent loss for the group:

Shimerman: We also lost Louise [Fletcher], who just passed away. And that that was a little bit of a shock. I knew she was sick. I knew she was going downhill. But the actual hearing of her death was hard…

After Lofton got into detail about just how effective she was as a villain, especially in her scenes with Kira, Visitor raved about having Fletcher on set.

Visitor: No one better. And and it was so funny because there was no one sweeter. Just one of the best humans. So it what I remember is doing those scenes, and someone would say something to her and she’d start laughing. And she had like a little girl laugh that was completely infectious.  I loved Louise, she was one of the great ones.

Shimerman had known Fletcher even before she took the role of Winn Adami.

Shimerman: Louise was a friend of mine, long before Deep Space Nine. And in fact, I was slightly influential on on her taking the job. She called me when she was offered the role before she had said yes. And her first question: “They’ve offered me this, Armin… how much makeup will I have to wear?” I said, “Oh Louise, it’s nothing. It’s a little thing on our nose.” Now… after about the second time she did the show she stormed into my trailer and said “You told me about the nose. But you didn’t tell me about the wigs!”

“Or the hats!” Visitor chimed in.

Louise Fletcher as Winn Adami on Deep Space Nine

Would they do it again?

Every time legacy Trek actors turn up on an animated Star Trek series, the same question is asked: Would they want to play their characters in live-action too? Visitor wouldn’t hesitate.

Visitor: I did a bunch of interviews and the question they all asked was, how hard was it to come back to Kira after all these years? And the answer is, she’s like she’s right here (points to head). Always right here ready to jump out. So that that wouldn’t be a hard… at all.

Shimerman’s reply was a little more complicated, for Ferengi-related reasons:

Shimerman: I would equate it, as I always will, to Shakespearean roles. If one’s lucky, one gets to play a role several times. And you you use what you used before, but hopefully you also add to it, you’re a little deeper, you’re a little bit more mature, you’re a little bit more knowing, and you take what you’ve learned after you perform the role, and incorporate it into the new version. So yes… I would love to do that. I don’t think I would love to do it as a series regular, at least not on a non-animated show, because of makeup, I’m an old man. But but a recurring character or a guest star shot, I would jump at that opportunity.

Kira and Quark (with O’Brien) on Deep Space Nine

Watch the full episode of The 7th Rule

The whole podcast is well worth watching, because of both the topics they cover and the banter that ensues. You should also check out the previous week’s episode with guest Mike McMahan.

Keep up with news for the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.

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I watched this the other day, and the cryptic end along the lines of “Nana will have exciting news soon” perked my attention right up

Nana’ been working on a book about The Women of Star Trek. It could be about that..

You beat me to it. Yep!

Very true. Though with the whole Eaglemoss situation, my mind went elsewhere. If a DS9 character appears on Picard, I think there’s a good chance it’s Kira

That would be fantastic! I really hope that Kira got prioritized for Pic S3 over the one-season and out, lackluster Tasha Yar…but I won’t go into that again as I sort of got shouted down the last time I brought that up here…lol…I can’t help it as she, Odo and Sisko are my fav characters in Trek since the original Big 3 in TOS.

Yeah, I am hoping for Kira on Picard S3.

Terry keeps saying Tasha in Season 3 is just a nod, nothing more. So I’m guessing a hologram, maybe Data’s little hologram

I hope she does. But honestly I always thought the DS9 character most likely to show up is O’brien.

Damn I love these actors and ds9 so much, and this episode really put a smile on my face. I would love to see more of them, but am also happy I can go back and rewatch old eps. Thanks for your work everybody.

With today’s technology, they could put Shimerman in a motion capture suit with face sensors and then do a CGI-overlay version of his face and hands. That way he could do a full series.

I’d be more than happy for a recurring guest role. The CGI would be a huge expense. Picard could barely afford to do an incredibly uneven job at de-aging Data.

That sounds too expensive TBH

I loved it when Cirric Lofton said that he thinks the show will go on for a long time and probably will be the longest running Star Trek show. I can honestly see that as well. The show seems to get more popular with fans every season, probably much cheaper to make than the live action shows by a large margin and has a format that makes it easy to keep going like a lot of the classic shows.

I would be happy with seven seasons (and a movie ;)). But if they can go past even that, would be all for it of course.

I hope the audience grows to convince them on a 2k remastering from the original film of all seven seasons of Deep Space Nine. Maybe the Blu-Ray sales of TNG wouldn’t allow it but what about streaming. Its gotta cost less than producing a new season of Picard. The show got really good in its 3rd and 4th seasons. It became a worthy successor to TNG. Ground breaking, ahead of its time in so many ways. Its timeless.

Obviously would love for that to be true, but there hasn’t even been even rumors about it, so not holding my breath. And I think even if the audience grows, it will only convince them to put more money in new content and not the old so much because it’s the new content that bringing in the new viewers.

Totally feasible. It’s cheaper to do animation, so it doesn’t even need to be as popular as the live action shows. Look at how long Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, and The Simpsons have lasted with pretty middling linear ratings. They do well by their streamers and get some merchandising revenue, but even with rising talents costs at the end of the day they just aren’t too cost-prohibitive – production costs stay steady.

We just have no real data on how the show is performing beyond the news when it gets renewed. I do miss hovering over Nielsen ratings.

Yeah all true. It’s nuts the Simpsons has been on for 30 years lol. And there isn’t a hint of the show ending anytime soon. Same for South Park and Family Guy which both been on for over 20 years now. I don’t think LDS needs to go THAT long lol. Because I used to watch all those shows, at least casually and stopped long ago. And many of those are different narratively because the characters and their situations are completely static, ie, never grow.

LDS IS a little different because unlike those shows, these characters actually change year to year. They aren’t perpetually repeating 2383 every season so that could be an issue of some kind once you get past a certain year. I can believe most of them will stay ensigns for a few more years (Harry Kim broke the record! But his situation was different and he probably got promoted the minute they got home). So that’s really the only problem I see but probably not a large one if they keep the show on for a decade. Anything after that it will start feeling like Riker and staying a first officer situation.

They can always rotate new characters in though but I think the show should fundamentally be about these characters.

To me it DID sound like he had his teeth in. The audio on this show is a bit more crisp (and maybe more processed) so that’s probably why some thought he didn’t. It was actually the first thought I had when I heard him: teeth!

I love how the Bajoran Militia has the same uniform, but Starfleet has had like 50 different iterations since DS9 went off air.


Quark and Kira did sound very different. But I just chalked it up to them being twenty years older. Sometimes people’s voices change dramatically as they age. And sometimes their voice is just the least distinct part of their performance.