Terry Farrell's turn as Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is near and dear to many fans' hearts. She made Jadzia her own for six years, imbuing the character with a warmth and lightheartedness that the somber and often dark series needed. Farrell departed the space station after the sixth season, beaming directly over to the sitcom Becker.
StarTrek.com had the opportunity to catch up with Farrell for an exclusive two-part interview in which she candidly recounted her Deep Space Nine experience. Below is the first part of the conversation.
StarTrek.com: Deep Space Nine was already in production when you landed the role of Jadzia Dax. What do you remember of that period when you auditioned, met the Paramount brass, got the role, had costume fittings and makeup tests, then had to get on set and start filming?
Terry Farrell: I was a nervous wreck; I was really excited. After everything I had to do to get the role, I was then stunned when I got there and saw how big the set was. If I remember right, I was thinking, “This is enormous. This is the biggest set I’ve ever been on.” I’m talking about the Ops set — it was so intimidating and overwhelming.
I was already so overwhelmed from the makeup tests and all of the excitement. If I remember, pretty much everything else had been shot and we had to shoot my stuff because I was the last person hired. Then they changed my makeup. I had a forehead and they didn’t like how that looked. So [make-up supervisor] Michael Westmore came up with the spots and took out the forehead. So we had to re-shoot.
It was really like being thrown in the trenches. I wish I could go back and do it again, knowing what I know now, I think I’m far better prepared to play Dax, just as a woman and as a human being on the planet, being 47 years old. I think I’d do a far better job of playing Dax right now.
StarTrek.com: Once you settled in, how easily did you slip into Jadzia and what intrigued you most about the character?
Terry Farrell: What interested me most was trying to find her strength. She wasn’t defensive at all; she was always calm and relaxed and confident. She had a peaceful, mature way about her. I think that’s what I held on to. I don’t think I really attained that for myself, without being Dax, until I had a child. But I think that playing her was actually my anchor to feeling safe in the world at that time. Playing Dax made me feel like I was secure and I was safe.
StarTrek.com: Deep Space Nine was so dark, but Jadzia was so hopeful and positive – without being in anyone’s face about it. How important a role did you feel the character played within the context of the show?
Terry Farrell: Avery Brooks [who played Benjamin Sisko] used to always tell me that I was too open, and honestly, I think that’s just a part of who I am. I think that’s part of what I bring to the picture. I have a lot of energy. It’s hard for me to hone it in and relax and be stabilized. That constant energy flowing through her was just being optimistic. I played Mimi in Mimi & Me, and it was really off the wall. That’s just how I channeled me being Terry; that’s my personality coming through.
StarTrek.com: Now flip that. How important was it to you as an actor to have those moments on DS9 where we saw a more serious side of Jadzia? You had many episodes that involved darker moments, among them the Mirror Universe.
Terry Farrell: Those I wish I could do again, the Mirror Universe episodes, because I didn’t quite trust that I was going to be OK. There was one in particular [“You Are Cordially Invited”], which David Livingston directed. Worf and Jadzia got married. David was really supportive. Michael [Dorn] and I and David all really worked together, and it was one of those magical shows to work on.
Then we had the episode [“Change of Heart”] where Worf and I went on a trip and I almost died, and Worf had to make this decision whether to stay back and save me, or go ahead with the mission. That was another one where I felt like we were all very connected. Those are a couple that stand out in this moment, talking to you. But a lot of them, especially in the first couple of years, I felt like I was a fish out of water. I was trying to figure out how this was working for me. I was still getting caught up in memorizing all my dialogue. I think it took a couple of years for me to feel like I was immersed in it.
StarTrek.com: How did you and Michael Dorn react when the producers came to you and said, “We’re going to pair up Jadzia and Worf?”
Terry Farrell: Oh, we’d thought we were so clever flirting with each so we’d have more stuff to do together, just because we were friends. Ha!
You’d think they had that planned the whole time because it all just went so easily. I loved it because Michael and I were such good friends. We could just hit heads and really talk things out. I learned so much from working with Michael, as a person and as a performer. He’s a very good friend.
StarTrek.com: You left Deep Space Nine after Season 6 and went straight on to Becker, which you then did for several years. Do you ever regret the decision to leave DS9? Was it the right choice for you, then and now?
Terry Farrell: My contract had ended, so I didn’t feel like I left the show. I felt like my contract had ended and there wasn’t a negotiation (for another year). It was ironic that Becker also let me go, as a person, I was really fortunate to have the experience of working on a half-hour show as well. That also took me a few years to get in the trenches and really wrap my brain around where I was at. The first year was terribly difficult because I was so used to being a hero. It’s very hard, then, to go be on a sitcom where your character is so neurotic and can’t get anything right. I had no break in between — I died one day (on DS9) and the very next day I tested (for Becker) for the same executives at Paramount. It was a lot.
This article was originally published on August 2, 2011.
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