Star Trek 50th anniversary: ‘Deep Space Nine’ star Nana Visitor had one wish as Nerys

Originally published September 8, 2016

As part of CNET’s coverage of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, I chatted with a dozen cast members from across the franchise about everything from Star Trek’s inclusive message to whether the ships are actually real.

By Ian Sherr

If Nana Visitor could have done one thing on Star Trek, she would have been captain.

Call it galactic jealousy that Kate Mulgrew ended up as Capt. Kathryn Janeway of “Star Trek: Voyager,” running a ship with a lot of strong female characters.

Visitor was powerful on her own. As Kira Nerys, Visitor played a freedom fighter who fought back the invasion of a militaristic species. Her race seemed to embody allegories to World War II, specifically the French Resistance and the Holocaust. Nerys was a fighter. Visitor loved that about her.

Even then, she wanted more.

“I really wanted to do Captain Janeway,” she said. “I wanted everything, but I didn’t want to leave Kira…I wanted to do it all.”

Visitor (whose first name is pronounced na-NAW) clearly had an emotional connection to her Star Trekexperience that made it more than a job. Maybe that’s because Star Trek was the only TV show she watched as a teenager, usually while eating dinner before work.

Or maybe it’s because executive producer Rick Berman wooed her to join the cast by telling her about the gritty and emotional stories “Deep Space Nine” would explore during its 1993-1999 run. That was enough to get her to ignore her manager, who told her being on Star Trek was career suicide.

startrek50cropped2.jpgFor the next seven years, she lived and breathed Star Trek nearly 16 hours a day. “It’s taken up a big part of my life and an important one,” she said.

Visitor also identified as Nerys so much she sometimes still slips into talking about her in the first person. “When we’d go on the Defiant,” she said at one point, referring to a ship on the show. Then she caught herself and said, “OK, when we’d go on the set of the Defiant…”

The realness of what the Star Trek series was able to create with sets, props and makeup had a profound effect. “I don’t have a really good handle on reality, not when my senses are being filled like they were on the show,” she said. “It was happening, and it was important. It was real to me.”Click for full coverage.

Visitor is currently working on a production of a play she wrote called “Bardo,” which explores suicide.

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