In 1993, something unprecedented happened: TWO Star Trek series were running on TV at the same time. Six years into the run of The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered. The show took place on a space station at the edge of the galaxy, far away from Federation headquarters, where the final frontier was still being explored and the set-up was like a classic Western, complete with the classic archetypes. There was the country doctor (Bashir), the barkeep (Quark), the sheriff (Odo), the mayor (Sisko), the common man (O’Brien), and the Native American (Kira). It was the first Trek series not to take place on a starship, the first to be made without Gene Roddenberry’s direct involvement, and the first to explore the darker side of the Star Trek universe. The show’s creators took a lot of flak for that decision, but the concept prevailed, and there are legions of fans out there who consider it their favorite in the franchise.
In its seven season run, DS9 daringly explored religion, family, mortality, morality, sexual orientation, and the cost of war, and did it all through its collection of deeply rich characters. The actors who played those characters are just as memorable as their fictional counterparts, so let’s catch up with them and find out Where The Cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Are Now.
16. Louise Fletcher – Winn Adami
When the Deep Space Nine producers were casting for an actress to play Vedek (and ultimately Kai) Winn, they knew they needed someone who could play out all the nuances of a religious fundamentalist with a smile on her face and a scheme in her heart. They called Louise Fletcher, and simply offered her the part. There could be no one else more suited to the role: Fletcher won an Oscar in 1975 for playing the equally manipulative smiling-with-menace-behind-it Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Winn appeared in all seven seasons of the show, and died in the final episode.
Fletcher has said that she gets recognized for Cuckoo’s Nest and Deep Space Nine equally, and that being on the show is one of her best memories of of her working life, describing the team as “ the most professional cast and crew imaginable.”
15. Jeffrey Combs – Weyoun(s)
Jeffrey Combs has played seven different characters across three Star Trek series, but he’s best known as Weyoun, a Vorta clone of whom we met numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Combs had auditioned for the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but didn’t land his first Trek role until DS9. After a few guest parts, he was cast by producer-writer Ira Steven Behr as Weyoun. Behr was a big fan, admitting to having once stalked Combs in a supermarket.
When Weyoun died, the producers weren’t ready to let go of him, so they came up with the idea that Weyoun was a clone, and kept him around through the end of the series, when the last of his clones was killed off.
After that, Combs turned up on Enterprise in two different roles (one recurring, the Andorian Shran), and guest starred on shows like Criminal Minds, Cold Case, The Flash, and Babylon 5, along with doing a ton of voice work. Most recently, he played The Office Manager on Gotham, voiced Mainframe in Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. and Ratchet in Transformers: Robots in Disguise, and co-stars in Unbelievable!!!!!, a “sci-fi parody adventure” with over 50 other actors who have appeared on Star Trek in various roles.
14. Rosalind Chao – Keiko O’Brien
We first met Rosalind Chao as botanist Keiko Ishikawa on The Next Generation, where she served aboard the Enterprise and married fellow officer Miles O’Brien. TV audiences already knew her as the girlfriend-then-wife of Klinger on M*A*S*H and its sub-par spinoff, AfterMASH. She was also one of the stars of the hit movie The Joy Luck Club.
Chao was offered a full time role on DS9 when it started up, but declined, wanting to avoid being locked into a specific role for the next seven years, and was also pregnant. So Keiko O’Brien became a recurring character, and Chao got to explore Keiko and still act in other projects. She never regretted it.
Since then, she’s been on ER, The West Wing, Without a Trace, Monk, Six Feet Under, The O.C., Grey’s Anatomy, The Muppets … okay, is there a show she hasn’t been on? Doubtful. Most recently, she’s had a recurring role on Sin City Saints as as Mrs. Wu, and played another Keiko, this time Governor Keiko Mahoe on Hawaii Five-O. She has a TV series and a movie currently in post-production.
Chao remained close to her TV husband Colm Meaney, and was there when he got married in 2007. “It was lovely having my TV wife at my wedding,” Meaney said.
13. Nicole de Boer – Ezri Dax
Nicole de Boer joined Deep Space 9 in its final season as Ezri, the newest host of the Dax symbiant. She had a tough role to step into, both as an actress joining a cast that had already spent six seasons together, and as a character who had to replace the much-beloved Jadzia Dax and share a space station with Jadzia’s widowed husband Worf. De Boer, a Canadian actress whose favorite role up to then was that of a recurring character on Kids in the Hall, thought she’d blown her DS9 audition when she started choking on some water that went down wrong just seconds before being introduced to producers Rick Berman and Ira Steven Behr, but she landed the role anyway. As a kid who’d watched The Next Generation, it was both a shock and a thrill to find herself on a Star Trek set, kissing Michael Dorn.
Since then, she played Sarah Bannerman on The Dead Zone, Marion Caldwell on Haven, and Becca Dorasay on Private Eyes. She’s also guest starred on Stargate: Atlantis, and appeared in a number of films and TV movies.
12. Aron Eisenberg – Nog
Aron Eisenberg was already in his twenties when he started playing Nog, the young son of Rom and nephew of Quark. A kidney transplant at age 17 had resulted in restricting his growth, which made him an appropriate size to play a fellow teen and friend to Jake Sisko. Eisenberg never knew if Nog would make it to another episode, but his character evolved more than almost any other character on the show, and stayed until the end. Nog went from being a conniving troublemaker to a rock solid friend and eventually the first Ferengi to join Starfleet. He was promoted to Lieutenant in the series finale.
Eisenberg had to have a second kidney transplant in December of 2015, and has recovered completely. He still acts, appearing on some of the Star Trek fan productions, providing a voice for the game “Star Trek Online,” and an upcoming web series called Blade of Honor. He’s been busy with his life as a dad, raising his two sons and coaching soccer. Combining his love of TV production with his desire to have time with his children, he started a business, Reel Life Pictures, that shoots wedding videos and photos. He also appears on the convention circuit when time allows.
11. Max Grodénchik – Rom
Max Grodénchik played two different Ferengi characters on Star Trek: The Next Generation before auditioning for the role of Quark on DS9. He ended up being cast as Rom, Quark’s well-intentioned but not-quite-as-ambitious brother, who came into his own as a talented engineer, a married man (to Leeta, played by Chase Masterson), and eventually the Grand Nagus of his people. Quite the journey!
Grodénchik started his career in theater, then moved into TV and film. After DS9 wrapped, he guest starred on shows like ER, Crossing Jordan, Six Feet Under, Jake in Progress, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and the mini-series Wienerland. These days, he lives in Austria with his family, and remains especially close with former co-star Armin Shimerman (Quark), who he sees as a mentor. He appears at conventions when time and circumstances allow, sometimes performing as part of the Star Trek “Rat Pack,” where he sings with former Trek co-stars Shimerman, Jeffrey Combs, Casey Biggs, and Vaughn Armstrong.
10. Cirroc Lofton – Jake Sisko
Cirroc Lofton became the youngest regular cast member of any Star Trek series in history when he took on the role of Jake, the son of Benjamin Sisko, the new Commander of space station Deep Space Nine. While he appeared in fewer than half the episodes, he was an essential part of the show, making an impact as he grew up on the station, made mischief with Nog, dated for the first time, and was half of one of the closest and most believable father-son relationships in Star Trek. The final shot of the series showed a now-grown Jake, standing with Colonel Kira, watching out the window as the wormhole opened to reveal another ship.
After Deep Space Nine he starred as Curtis Thorpe on The Hoop Life, played Anthony Carter on Soul Food, and guest starred on shows like 7th Heaven and CSI: Miami. He has also appeared in a couple of Star Trek fan films, including Star Trek: Of Gods and Men directed by Star Trek: Voyager star Tim Russ. He and his wife Sara own a restaurant in Culver City, California, called Sara The Wine Bar.
9. Michael Dorn – Worf
When Michael Dorn arrived on the Deep Space 9 set to bring his TNG character, Worf, to the space station, he experienced some major culture shock. Unlike the rowdy atmosphere on the Next Generation set, the mood on DS9 was more like a monastery. (Co-star Marina Sirtis echoed this sentiment, admitting that when she stopped by to visit pal Terry Farrell, it it was so quiet that she asked Farrell, “Did someone die?”)
Worf soon blended in with the rest of the characters, even falling in love with and marrying Jadzia Dax, and Dorn became the actor to appear in more Star Trek episodes than anyone else; he also played his own ancestor in the feature film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Post-Worf, Dorn hasn’t slowed down much. He’s guest starred on various TV series and does a tremendous amount of voice work on shows like Spider-Man, Kim Possible, Justice League, Danny Phantom, Duck Dodgers, Ben 10, Family Guy, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He did six episodes of Castle, and as a result of a well-timed dinner with his Trek buddies and Seth MacFarlane, appeared in the movie Ted 2. And in the incredibly super-cool wow factor department, he’s an experienced pilot who has owned his own planes and flown with the Blue Angels and the United States Air Force Precision Flight team!
8. Andrew Robinson – Garak
Andrew Robinson auditioned to play Odo, but was hired instead as Cardassian tailor (and former Intelligence operative) Elim Garak, who first appeared on episode three and stayed with the show until the very end. Garak became a frequent foil for Dr. Bashir, and eventually became integral to the storyline as the Dominion War escalated and became a focal point for the series.
Robinson had already made a name for himself as the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry and the star of the film Hellraiser, and during his time on Deep Space Nine he still guest starred on other shows like Murder, She Wrote, The X-Files, The Pretender, and more. He also took up directing, helming one episode of the DS9, then went on to direct one Voyager as well as seven episodes of Judging Amy. In addition to directing, he continued acting after DS9 finished up, including a guest star appearance on Martial Law with Michael Dorn.
He’s also written several books. One is Garak’s fictional memoir, A Stitch in Time, and the other is his own, non-fiction memoir about his life as an actor, called Stepping into the Light. In addition to acting, he is a Professor of Theater Practice at the University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts.
7. Rene Auberjonois – Odo
Before Star Trek: Deep Space 9, there was Clayton Endicott III, on Benson (along with Voyager star Ethan Phillips). There was also Louis, the singing chef in The Little Mermaid, and dozens of other indelible roles. Rene Auberjonois has voiced Smurfs, Snorks, Pound Puppies, and more. He was Father Mulcahy in the groundbreaking movie M*A*S*H, and has worked with director Robert Altman, movie star Katharine Hepburn, and just about everyone else in Hollywood. That just adds to the perfection of this Tony and Grammy Award winner’s casting as Odo, the shapeshifting Chief of Security on DS9.
On DS9, his character developed from being a loner changeling to a man who defied his own people, fell in love, helped save the Federation, and then returned to the Great Link from whence he came to heal his people, despite what they’d done to him … an impressive character arc indeed. He also directed eight episodes of the series, in addition to spending more time in the make-up chair than almost any other actor except good pal Armin Shimerman.
Since then, he’s been just as busy as he was before, guest starring on TV shows (Warehouse 13, The Good Wife, Masters of Sex, Criminal Minds, and most recently, Madam Secretary), doing more voice work (Archer, Ben 10, Avengers Assemble), and doing personal appearances at conventions, primarily to raise money for the charity Doctors Without Borders.
6. Armin Shimerman – Quark
Already a big Trek fan, Armin Shimerman was thrilled to take his first small part on TNG as a “gift box face,” which led to more guest roles (including the first Ferengi ever), and ultimately, Quark. He brought unexpected nuances to the character, as Quark became more complex, changing the previously one-dimensional Ferengi species in a myriad of ways.
Shimerman was already an accomplished, busy actor. He’d been on The Practice, Brooklyn Bridge, Alien Nation, and Beauty and the Beast, among dozens of others. A list of his post-DS9 credits would take up pages: he was Principal Snyder on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, guest starred on shows like Boston Public, The West Wing, and ER, voiced characters on umpteen animated shows and video games, and has at least six projects in post-production at the moment. He’s also co-written a series of books.
Even without all those, he’s a busy man. He and his wife of over 30 years, actress Kitty Swink, help run the Antaeus Theater Company in North Hollywood, which includes an academy that trains and teaches young actors. He’s also the founder of Trek Against Trump, galvanizing the Star Trek community to step up and be heard in the 2016 election. There are over 100 signatures on their mission statement, supporting diversity and a better future, in which Donald Trump is not involved.
5. Terry Farrell – Jadzia Dax
Ask fans about Terry Farrell, and they will get angry; not at her, but at at the decision to kill off her character at the end of season six. Farrell played Jadzia, a Trill experiencing her eighth lifetime with the Dax symbiant. She was a best friend to Benjamin Sisko, a crush to Julian Bashir, and the Science Officer aboard the space station. A fan favorite, Dax had the wisdom of seven lifetimes accumulated inside her, combined with the joie de vivre of a 28 year-old Starfleet officer with a new assignment.
Behind-the-scenes talk is that producer Rick Berman refused to free Farrell up from DS9‘s grueling schedule to take guest parts elsewhere, despite having a larger pool of regular characters to play with than any other Trek series. When Farrell asked that they reduce her time on set for both personal and professional reasons, the word was an unequivocal no, and Dax was killed off in a way that would prevent her from ever returning in the form of Jadzia. Not all the other producers were even aware that that had happened until years later. We call foul!
After DS9, Farrell was a regular on Becker for several years, and now spends most of her time focused on her family. She does the convention circuit regularly, and appears in some of the Trek fan films.
4. Colm Meaney – Miles O’Brien
Irishman Colm Meaney is the only actor to have appeared in both the pilots and the finales of TWO Star Trek series: TNG and DS9. Initially cast as a minor supporting character on TNG, he became popular with the fans and was bumped up to series regular on Deep Space 9, when Miles O’Brien brought his wife Keiko and daughter Molly to his new job as Chief of Operations on the space station, where he had his hands full.
Meaney’s career has been in full swing since the early ’80s, and both during DS9‘s run and afterwards, he has appeared in movies and TV shows with characters as varied as one can imagine. He played the same character in three Roddy Doyle films, was Cowen, leader of the Genii on Stargate: Atlantis, appeared in Die Hard 2, Con Air, Far and Away, and Dick Tracy, has co-starred on stage with Kevin Spacey, played a judge on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and most recently starred as Thomas ‘Doc’ Durant in AMC’s Hell on Wheels, which wrapped up its five-season run this past summer. His movie The Journey premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and is already filming a mini-series called Will about William Shakespeare, which premieres next year.
3. Alexander Siddig – Julian Bashir
Originally billed as Siddig El Fadil, Alexander “Sid” Siddig played the brilliant, quirky, over-enthusiastic Dr. Julian Bashir, Chief Medical Officer, on DS9. Producers were initially interested in casting him as Commander Sisko, but when they found out he was 25, they nixed that idea and made him the doctor instead. (They also hadn’t met Avery Brooks yet.) We’re going to pretend the plot point about him being genetically enhanced never happened, as he’s a much more interesting character without it. (Siddig agrees.)
Since the show ended, he’s been a busy man. A few highlights: he was Hamri Al-Assad on season six of 24, unceremoniously blown up in a storyline created when he told them he had to take another gig. Producers were “livid,” he said. He was in Syriana with George Clooney, was Philip Burton on Primeval, Minos on Atlantis, and Doran Martell on Game of Thrones. (Sadly, his character was killed off at the beginning of season six.) He plays Ruben Oliver on Peaky Blinders, and just finished producting on a 2017 miniseries about the Kennedys.
Fun fact: Siddig’s uncle is Malcolm McDowell.
2. Nana Visitor – Kira Nerys
Nana Visitor was a fan of the original Star Trek series for years, so even though her manager told her it was “career suicide” to take a part on Deep Space 9, she did it anyway. Good call! She played Major (eventually Colonel) Kira Nerys, the Bajoran Liaison Officer aboard the space station who had a past as a freedom fighter and rebel in the Bajoran Resistance.
During her time on DS9, her character softened up, losing some of her anger and radicalism but keeping her edge. She had romantic relationships, mostly notably with Vedek Bareil and then Odo, and carried Miles and Keiko O’Brien’s child after Keiko was injured, a storyline created around her real-life pregnancy. (The father is Alexander Siddig, to whom she was married for several years.)
Visitor has been busy since the show ended, proving her manager wrong. Immediately afterwards, she went back to her theatre roots, and played Roxie Hart in Chicago, staying with the show when it went to Broadway. A small sampling of her film and TV work: she had a recurring role on Dark Angel, guest starred on Frasier, Battlestar Galactica, Castle, and Family Guy, played Jean Ritter on Wildfire, and did two episodes of the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood: Miracle Day. Most recently, she appeared in the miniseries Full Out for Open TV.
1. Avery Brooks – Benjamin Sisko
Avery Brooks almost didn’t take the part when he was offered the role of Benjamin Sisko, Commander of the Deep Space Nine space station. His wife had to talk him into it, recognizing that it was a complex, rewarding role. Brooks loved the pilot script, and was particularly attracted to the theme around a man raising a song as he struggled with loss, so he took the job and stayed on years past when he expected; in fact, he is the only cast member to have appeared in all 173 episodes. He beat 100 other actors for the role, and became the first African-American captain to star in a Star Trek series.
He was already a TV star, having played Hawk on Spenser: For Hire for three years and then gone on to star in own spin-off, A Man Called Hawk. But he’d also been following another passions, theater and teaching, and was still teaching during his DS9 days; he would videotape lessons for his students from the studio, where he was sometimes still in his Starfleet uniform. After the show finished its run, he appeared in a few movies, but focused mostly on music and theater, and is now a tenured professor of theater at Mason Gross School of the Arts.
When the show wrapped in 1999, producer Ira Steven Behr gave each member of the cast a ring inscribed with the words “Lest We Forget.” In recent years, he’s been working on a documentary about the show and its impact, and brought the writing team together again to ask them what they’d do if they had one more season to write. Let us know which characters you’d want to see brought back in the comments!
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