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Time's Orphan: Molly O'Brien is All Grown Up

We catch up with actress Hana Hatae on her Star Trek role!

Hana Hatae and her Star Trek character Molly O'Brien

Getty Images / - Rob DeHart

Molly O'Brien is all grown up.

Or rather, Hana Hatae, the young actress who played Miles and Keiko's daughter — who first appeared in the episode "Rascals" of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and then in 11 episodes ofStar Trek: Deep Space Nine — is all grown up.

Molly O'Brien lays in bed in her family's quarters in 'Rascals'

Hatae will make her first-ever convention appearance at the official Star Trek Convention and, in advance of that occasion, caught up with Hatae for an interview in which she recounted playing Molly, shared her thoughts on making her con debut, and filled us in on what she's up to these days. Going all the way back, how did you first land the role of Molly O'Brien in the TNG episode "Rascals?"

Hana Hatae: I actually don't remember the audition for TNG at all. My mom told me that I went in the audition room by myself and when the door opened and I walked out, all she could hear was everyone in the room laughing hysterically. I guess I must have done something right because I apparently didn't even have a callback before they told my parents that I landed the role.

Miles O'Brien carries his daughter Molly in 'A Man Alone' You were probably too young to know what you getting into, but did your parents know at the time that Molly could become a recurring character? Or did that happen only once the producers considered including the character on DS9?

Hana Hatae: My parents knew what I was getting into because Star Trek already had such a huge following and the role I was cast for was the chief's daughter. Do you have any memory at all of your TNG experience or were you just too young?

Hana Hatae: I was so young and it was such a long time ago that I don't really have any memory of my TNG experience.

Molly O'Brien sits in Keiko's lap on a recliner as they both look over their shoulders at Miles in 'Hard Time' You were about 5 years old when you first played Molly on DS9 and were about 12 when the show ended. What do you remember of the overall experience?

Hana Hatae: I remember getting to leave school every once in a while and having private lessons on the days that I filmed. Every day someone would ask what I would like for lunch and all I ever wanted was grilled cheese with a side of ketchup. Everyone was so nice and I always had such a good time when I was at the studio. You did 11 episodes of DS9. Which ones stand out most in your mind, and why?

Hana Hatae: There are two episodes that really stand out in my mind. The first one being "If Wishes Were Horses" because I was absolutely terrified of Rumpelstiltskin. I think that I legitimately thought the actor who played him was going to steal me. I was too scared to be alone with him in the same room, so I had someone else with me at all times.

Molly O'Brien falls through a time portal as her parents try to grab her before she falls in 'Time's Orphan'

The second is "Time's Orphan" because it was so much fun to film. The outdoor scene was filmed at Malibu Creek, which is one of my favorite places to hike and explore. My family and I used to go there all the time when I was growing up. There was a rattlesnake in the bushes right next to where we were filming, so we had to take a break until the park rangers came and removed the snake. The next scene, where I'm falling into the time portal, was awesome to film because I was strapped to a harness and got to swing in front of a green screen. It was pretty much like my own personal little roller coaster. Were you an actress playing a role or a little girl being a little girl, or maybe a bit of both?

Hana Hatae: I think in the beginning, I was just a little girl being a little girl. I was so young I wasn't really aware that what I was doing was acting. Once I got older, I started to realize that I was an actress playing a role.

Molly, Keiko, Kirayoshi, and Miles O'Brien on the family couch in 'What You Leave Behind' How close did you get with Rosalind Chao and Colm Meaney over your time on the show? And did you keep in touch with them or anyone else from the show over the years?

Hana Hatae: Even though I was only in 12 episodes total, they really were like second parents to me. I was so lucky because they always treated me so well and showed me so much love. Unfortunately, I didn't keep in touch with anyone after the show ended, but I ran into Rosalind Chao and her son in DTLA a few years later, which made me really happy. What did you make of how they closed out Molly's storyline and the O'Brien family storyline in the series finale, "What You Leave Behind"?

Hana Hatae: I think the way they closed out Molly and the O'Brien family storyline in the finale made sense. Earth seemed like a safe move for a human family with two young kids.

2014 photo of Hana Hatae

Hana Hatae You didn't seem to pursue much more acting after DS9. Why not? And what have you been up to since the show ended? You were involved for a time with your family's restaurant business, right?

Hana Hatae: After DS9, acting had become so much more competitive and I lived pretty far from L.A., so it was hard to get out to auditions, especially since I couldn't drive myself. I got pretty involved with sports and music after the show ended. I played roller hockey for years and took violin lessons, and was actually pretty good at both of them. I eventually stopped playing both, but have been trying to re-teach myself how to play the violin again. While I was in high school, my family opened an amazing Japanese restaurant close to where we lived at the time in Southern California. We eventually had to close due to the economy. What are you doing these days?

Hana Hatae: Aside from trying to teach myself how to play the violin again, I've been into rock climbing. I started climbing indoors a few years ago and just recently went outdoor bouldering for the first time. It's such an accomplishment to finish a problem you've been working on for a while and is a great work out. I'm also going back to school for psychology in the fall after taking a few years off to work and travel. I was never really a big fan of school, but I'm actually really excited to go back.

A disheveled Molly O'Brien in 'Time's Orphan' Do you ever go back and look at the old DS9 episodes? What's that like for you? And what do you think it'll be like to show the episodes to your own kids one day?

Hana Hatae: I just recently watched some of my old DS9 episodes and they made me laugh. I wasn't a very good actress (laughs). It's so wild to watch myself when I was so young. The costume designer really did a great job because the outfits I had were fantastic. It's going to be pretty amusing showing the episodes to my kids one day, especially since I will be much older then.

Molly O'Brien raises a book and shows it to her brother Kirayoshi in 'Time's Orphan' You'll be in Las Vegas for Star Trek's big convention. How many conventions have you done? How surreal is it all this time later to meet the fans, sign autographs, and revisit your time on Star Trek?

Hana Hatae: This will be my first convention ever. I'm really excited and nervous at the same time. It's crazy to think that I have fans. I was such a little kid when I was on the show and never really understood that Star Trek was such a hot commodity. It's been 15 years since DS9 ended and I never thought that I would be meeting fans or signing autographs. I'm really looking forward to being at the convention and revisiting my time on the show.

This article was originally published on July 13, 2014.