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Nana Visitor Interviewed
This article was found at:- http://www.darkangelfan.com//news/418.shtml
April 02, 2001
Posted by yossarin
Nana Visitor, a future guest star for Dark Angel, is being interviewed
on her previous job on Deep Space Nine and other things.
Nana talks about Kira, how she misses DS9, her current
work and more
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
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 1849
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
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. To hear a clip of Nana`s impromptu singing, click
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
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