No one, including Aron Eisenberg, possibly could have known that his Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character Nog would make such an indelible mark on viewers and on the show. The Ferengi turned out to be so much more than just the son of Rom and pal of Jake Sisko, as he earned his place on the space station, gained the respect even of Benjamin Sisko and fought nobly in the Dominion War. Likewise, Eisenberg did a remarkable job of running with the opportunity presented to him, transforming a character that, in lesser hands, might easily have been overlooked into a formidable, eminently watchable figure the producers included in 40-plus episodes. Eisenberg also played Kar, the young Kazon-Ogla, in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Initiations.” StarTrek.com recently caught up with Eisenberg for an interview in which he recounted his DS9 days and filled us in on what he’s up to now.
Eisenberg: Raising my sons has been my priority for the last 15 years, more than anything. I have my own company, Reel Life Pictures. I coach soccer, which I absolutely love, and I continue to pursue my acting career. I just got some new terrific headshots by Vanie Poyey Photography, and they are awesome. I’m really hoping that they help re-kick start my career.
We saw you in Las Vegas at Creation’s mega-convention in August. How did you enjoy that show, as they had you on stage with Armin Shimerman and Max Grodenchik, plus you were in the dealers' room with your table right by Armin, Kitty Swink, Max and Chase Masterson. And, you got to catch up with many fans and even your old boss, Ira Steven Behr, right?
Eisenberg: Yes, I enjoyed it very much. It's like a yearly reunion. All of them are important people in my life, that were part of my life at a very life-changing time. They will always remain close to my heart and I always love seeing them. I had one of the best times at a con this last August than I have ever had, to be honest. There are so many new, young fans finding the magic of Star Trek. It's really amazing.
When you first got hired to play Nog, what did they tell you about the character? How many episodes did you expect/hope to do?
Eisenberg: They told me nothing! And I had no idea how many episodes I would do at any given time. So, I thought every episode I was doing might be my last episode.
At what point did you realize that Nog was going to stick around, that he'd really be developed?
Eisenberg: When I began shooting the final episode of the series.
Seriously though, how amazed were you that a supporting character like Nog evolved into a fully fleshed out figure who played a vital role in some of the show's defining moments, particularly the Dominion War arc?
Eisenberg: They never stopped amazing me. I was constantly honored by the episodes and scripts they were sending my way. I was incredibly blessed and fortunate. I can never say that enough.
For you, what were the most interesting revelations about the character/the most challenging bits to play?
Eisenberg: Honestly, the way the character paralleled my own life... It was incredible how the writers were able to take the nuances and personality that was my own and weave it in the character of Nog. I still see the similarities to this day in my own life and endeavors.
Take us to the build-up of Nog losing his leg. What were the discussions Ira Behr had with you about killing him off, or having him gravely injured? Once the decision was made, was it like for you to play those scenes and the aftermath
Eisenberg: There were none with me. None. I received a script and ran with it. That's it. I had heard that they first wanted to blow both of my legs off, but then decided that was too much.
How tight a bond did you form during DS9 with Armin, Max, Chase, Cirroc Lofton, etc.?
Eisenberg: With Armin and Max, very tight, since we worked so often together. Armin became a mentor to me and still is to this day. I will never forget how helpful he always was to me. Cirroc and I bonded on a completely different level. We had a terrific chemistry off screen that easily translated on screen. I couldn't have had a better co-star on the show playing my best friend. He was several years younger than me, but we totally got along, always joked around and constantly had a great time. I was very fortunate here, too.
Was there anything about Nog that you did not get to play out as an actor, that you wish had been explored about the character?
Eisenberg: Not really, to be honest. They gave me such great stuff that I never really felt I wasn’t challenged, nor did I ever feel that they were dropping the ball on the character. It was actually the complete opposite.
Have you read any of the Trek novels that revisited Nog? If so, what did you make of those stories and the continuation of Nog's arc?
Eisenberg: I have to admit I do not know what's going on with Nog. Can someone fill me in please?!
You also appeared as Kar in the Voyager episode “Initiations.” How did that opportunity come about?
Eisenberg: At first they did not want me to audition since I was playing Nog so often and thought I might be too recognizable. But they were struggling with finding an actor that could play young enough without being too "young," so to speak. So, they caved in and asked me to audition. I suppose I nailed it since I got the part. I hope they were happy with what I did. I had a blast.
What do you remember of the shoot?
Eisenberg: Just having a great time. And it was fun to play a different character with a different point of view and attitude. I also tried a different character voice that I thought kind of worked well. I remember thinking the makeup/hair was a bit more difficult than Nog's, but easily manageable.
How did you enjoy working with Robert Beltran on the episode?
Eisenberg: I completely enjoyed working with him the whole time. I recently saw him in Vegas and wished I was able to hang with him a bit more. I haven't seen him in years and it was wonderful to see him. He has a new baby and he was so proud. I was whisked off and didn't really get a chance to talk to him much, which was disappointing. I need to contact someone to get in touch with him.
Last question: The 20th anniversary of DS9's premiere is fast approaching. How crazy/amazing/scary is it to you that it's a full 20 years since the show debuted?
Eisenberg: It blows me away. I can't really believe it, to tell you the truth. This sounds so cliché, but it really still feels like yesterday. It really does. I will never forget my time on Star Trek, the fun I had doing what I love, the family bond that is formed not just with my cast mates, but the fans of the show as well. No matter what happens in my career, I will always be part of this incredible world. I will always be a part of Americana. I suppose I have a charmed life. Star Trek changed my life, my world, and I will always be grateful. Always.