DS9's Major Kira Nerys - Nana Visitor Part 2
Yesterday, in the first half of our interview with Nana Visitor, the former Star Trek: Deep Space Nine star talked in great detail about her time on the show. Now, in part two of the conversation, Visitor chats about life after Star Trek. Among the topics: her role on Wildfire, the family show created and produced by her DS9 boss and champion, the late Michael Piller; her decision to stay in New Mexico with her husband, Matthew Rimmer, and her sons Buster and Django, after Wildfire concluded its run; and a question she has for you, the StarTrek.com readers.
What do you think Major Kira is doing now?
Visitor: If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t have one season at least of running the station. Not that I didn’t want Sisko to never come back. I would assume that he would be an orb and would be there in every sense. But I would have loved to have run the station.
When the show ended, were you excited about the future, scared about what it might hold, both?
Visitor: I was devastated. I was completely devastated. I’m very much a tribal person, and I felt that group was my tribe. I felt that Paramount, by the end of the show, was my home. And I deeply loved my character. I was not ready to give up playing her. My children practically grew up at Paramount. It was very difficult for me to leave. I was in my 40’s, being put out in the world. And if you think about it, I was a Star Trek actor, in my 40’s, female, and it was hard not to think, “This is NOT going to be good.” But, actually, I got to do some of my most satisfying work since then, so there you go. All the clichés and presuppositions you think will rule your life… they don’t always rule your life.
Post-DS9, you landed a recurring role on Dark Angel, realized your lifelong dream of starring on Broadway (in the show Chicago), made guest shots on Frasier and Battlestar Galactica, and appeared in such films as Mini’s First Time and Swing Vote. But your most significant projects – in terms of film and TV -- were probably Wildfire, Friday the 13th and Family Guy. Tell us a bit about each of those experiences.
Visitor: Michael Piller was once again involving in changing my life. I hated the countryside. I was one of those obnoxious New Yorkers that believed in that poster that shows New York and then absolutely nothing in the middle of the country and then L.A. When I heard that we were going to shoot Wildfire in New Mexico, I was devastated. And for the first two weeks being here, shooting, I thought, “I can’t do this. I can’t be here.” Then something transformative happened and I stopped fighting and I started listening to my environment and to myself. When you’re in this environment, you can’t avoid yourself, and I think I really needed that in my life. So I’d say Wildfire was hugely important because of the location of it and what it’s meant to me. And, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the show, loved the people, loved that Michael hired me again, hated that we lost him so early in our run, and was very proud of the work that we did. But mostly I was thrilled that I discovered that middle of the country that I’d never had enough respect for.
You were the murderous Mrs. Voorhees in the Friday the 13th remake and you’ve provided the voice for several characters on Family Guy…
Visitor: Friday the 13th, to me, is just a memory of discomfort, standing with a knife in the pouring rain. And my start point was in this bed of poison ivy. Then, after I jumped out at the girl from my bed of poison ivy I got to fall down in the sludge mud many times. The only really fun thing was being decapitated. I thoroughly enjoyed that. That was a fascinating process. And in terms of Family Guy, I think I’ve done eight episodes, that or more. You know, whenever Seth MacFarlane calls, I go, because I adore him and he’s one of the major talents I’ve ever worked with, which is saying a lot, because I’ve worked with a lot of amazing people.
Wildfire ended and so as to not uproot Buster and Django, you stayed in New Mexico. Beyond raising the boys, how have you been keeping busy?
Visitor: I do act whenever there’s an opportunity, but something I’ve done, that I love, is I started a dessert business. It’s called Un Petit Morceau. We do all kinds of things and we serve the Village of Corrales, but mostly we’re an Internet business. I came up with a pastry called a bouboulette, and they are intensely flavored pastries with an equally interesting filling in each, like chocolate-cherry chipotle and lavender-Earl Grey-plum, things like that. We’re doing really well. My partner Kim (Montalvo) is a former businesswoman. She’s a neighbor. She started coming over for dinner and we became fast friends. She said, “My God, your food is incredible. We should do something with this while we’re both sitting here in Corrales, in a village with horses and goats and alpacas.” And that’s what we did. We’re now in our second year.
The boys are getting older now. How ready are you to get back in the acting game?
Visitor: I’m there. Now I can. I’ve got much more flexibility. You want to feel like time has passed? Buster is a Marine. Isn’t that wild? So he’s off at Camp Pendleton and Django is a very independent 14-year-old, very interested in alternative music and very into computers, just like Siddig. Actually, it just looks like Siddig spit and there’s Django. It’s exactly Siddig’s DNA.
OK, we’ve heard dogs barking, but what’s that other loud, piercing noise in the background? Is an alarm going off?
Visitor: That is my parrot, Luciano. My sister and I have been doing cooking videos, which really are just the way we are in real life and always have been, being idiots and having fun and giving good recipes and a little advice, with a bit of banter, too. We call ourselves The Kitchen Witches, and you can usually hear Luciano in the background. He wants attention, and that’s what he wants right now, but he’s not going to get it.
If we stopped by to visit you today, would we find any trace of DS9 or Major Kira in your house?
Visitor: No. No, you wouldn’t. Well, it’s funny… This is something I’ve always been careful about. I want to be an actor, a verb, and not an actor, the noun. I don’t want people to know that I’m an actor when they walk in the house. I want them to know that I care about their comfort, that I’m a fine cook, that I love to entertain and that I appreciate beautiful things. But what I do for a living… I don’t want that to be at the forefront. The only place where I have some things – like a big poster of me from when I did Chicago on Broadway, or pictures from shows and movies I’ve done, or a Deep Space Nine comic book with a Kira cover that I absolutely love; it’s her looking sad and weary – is in the laundry room. I have boxes of things that I treasure, that I’ll sometimes look through, but I try very hard, as I said, not to be Gloria Swanson. Really, that’s all about acting being what I do, not who I am.
It’s been a long time since DS9 ended. Do you think at this point you’ve played Major Kira for the last time?
Visitor: That’s what I feel. I never think of playing Major Kira again, but I could and I would in a moment. She’s somebody I had difficulty actually dropping. I had to watch myself so that I wasn’t frightening to people or so that I wasn’t a little aggressive in my own life after playing her for seven years. I had to wean myself off of being Major Kira. So she’s right there. She’s so totally available to me. It would be a joy to play her again and, like I said, it’d be a joy to see her as a mature commander, as a colonel on the station. I’m not counting on it, but I would love it.
Before we let you go, is there something we didn’t ask you that you want to talk about, about Kira or DS9 or anything else?
Visitor: I have a question for the fans. How would Kira have changed post 9/11? If the show was still on in 2001, would they have changed her? And if the show had come on after 9/11, would they even have had the character? That’s a question I have. Kira was called a freedom fighter, but she was a terrorist. So that’s a question I have, and I know it’s a question that makes a lot of people nervous. It’s the biggest question I have, and I wonder what people think.
To read part one of this interview, click here.