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Terry Farrell - Dax

by Ian Spelling

"Where did the time go?" wonders Terry Farrell. " I don't know. It's so bizarre to think that we're in our fourth season of Deep Space Nine. People are always asking me, 'How long have you guys been on?' or, 'Aren't you in your second season now?' It's interesting that people don't realize we've been around for as long as we have.

"I've personally learned so much from Deep Space Nine. I've relaxed and I think about making an episode great instead of wondering if I'm even doing a good job. I think more about dealing with being on a series , our work schedule, how to approach the work and sustaining my energy through it all. That has been a tremendous help to me as an actress, to finally learn how to gauge everything so that I have enough energy to play my role well every week and so that I don't burn myself out. I'm always trying to find something to keep me as interested in playing Dax as I was on my first day on the set."

Farrell believes Jadzia Dax has grown quite a bit over the years on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and that she is now a fully rounded character that Trekkers know, understand and to whom some con even relate. The actress feels that the character development has been especially notable in the past two years, as, she says, little was done at all with Dax during the show's inaugural season. "People mostly talked about Dax our first year," notes Farrell. " I think it took time for the writers to discover who Dax was. All they told me was that she had been several mean and women before she was Jadzia Dax. But, there was nothing specific about who those people were and how it affect Dax and her life. So I found out, like the audience did, as I got the scripts over the next few seasons. I didn't have meetings to find out where she had grown up and who she had been before. Fortunately, I started to get more scripts that revealed facts about Dax's life after the first year."

She discussed her most prominent Dax episodes and moments from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's first two seasons - from the pilot "The Emissary" through to the bat'leth fest "Blood Oath" - in an interview in STARLOG PLATINUM EDITION #4. Now, Farrell happily agrees to look back on the post-"Blood Oath" third and fourth season outings that showcased Dax. First up is "Equilibrium." In that episode, it was revealed that Dax was once, briefly, joined with a Trill named Joran Belar. Now, the memory blockers that kept the Dax-Joran bonding a secret are failing, imperiling Dax's life. "That was an interesting show and it reveled a lot about Trill society that we didn't know anything about before," notes the actress. "The really big revelation was that about half of all Trill could actually be joined, which was why it was so important to keep that a forgotten memory for Dax."

The episode "Meridian" found Dax falling deeply in love with a native of the planet Meridian named Deral ( Brett Cullen ), whose world will be visible for just 12 days before entering another dimension. Though Dax decides to join Deral on the planet, it's not meant to be, as her presance disrupts the planetary shift. Thus, Dax and Deral, ( who successfully made the shift), remain lovers separated by space and time - 60 years to be exact. " I thought that show was done well. I loved working with Jonathan ( Frakes, who directed the episode). But, to be honest," she explains, " I thought 'Rejoined' worked better as a love story. I don't think 'Meridian' was as emotionally honest as 'Rejoined' in its approach to a Dax relationship and its dialogue. I just fell in love with the guy. Boom! Many people enjoyed that show and, as an actress, I did too, especially the scene where I had to say good-bye to Avery Brooks. Those kinds of scenes are very easy to play with Avery because he's so supportive of me. If it hadn't been for Avery, I don't know if I would have gotten through our first season."

Courtesy of Lwaxana Troi's ( Majel Barrett) case of Zanthi Fever in "Fascination," Dax winds up being wooed by an extremely armorous Bariel. Further, Dax declares her love for Sisko and even gives him a passionate kiss. "That was such fun, " enthuses Farrell. " It was more comedic for me than just about any show we had ever done. So, that was great. O felt really comfortable doing the comedy, and I loved the way Avery directed the show."

Such guest stars as Jim Metzler, Dick Miller, classic Star Trek veteran Clint Howard, and Bill Smitrovich lent some added spark to "Past Tense I & II." Those shows placed Sisko, Bashir ( Alexander Siddig ), and Dax on Earth circa 2024, where Sisko, in order to restore a broken timeline, is forced to assume the guise of the heroic Gabriel Bell, whose selfless acts helped lead to crucial social reforms. Dax spends most of the episode befriending Chris Brynner ( Metzler), a businessman who helps her secure identification and gives the denizens of the Sanctuary District the opportunity to reveal their plight over a powerful computer uplink. "I didn't like my hair in those episodes," say Farrell with a laugh. " It's a dumb thing to have a conversation about , but it's true. They were fun shows to do. I actually wish I had to do more in them. They were really Sid and Avery's shows. Jim was nice to work with and he's a nice guy. I also loved my scene with Clint Howard. There was actually another scene with him ( pertaining to Dax's stolen combadge) that got cut, and it was obvious that something was missing."

A mirror universe was at the heart of "Through the Looking Glass," which cast Farrell as Sisko's mistress and rebel. It's not an hour the actress is particularly fond of. "I felt like I could have done a better job, looking back on it. I felt really uncomfortable when we were shooting it," she recalls. "It was one of those 'Here's the script, you're doing it tomorrow' shows. I said,'Uh, I don't know what to do.' I was a little disappointed with my work in that one, honestly."

Dax meets several of her past hosts and must deal with a major inferiority complx in "Facets," the last Dax-heavy entry of the third season. the episode called for Dax's crewmates to temporarily be inhabited by the memories of her former hosts. Odo ( Rene Auberjonois) goes so far as to morph into a combination of himself and Curzon Dax, which becomes a potentially major dilemma when Curzon elects to remain in Odo's body. Ultimately, after Curzon reveals that he loves Jadzia, he agrees to return to Dax's body.

"I wished I was one of the other actors because they got to have all the fun playing the different characters. It was great for me to read the script, because it revealed so much about Dax. And it was exciting to play the scenes with everyone, but I was just reacting to them. So," she argues," if you really look at the episode, I don't have much to except, watch the others. It was OK, actually. I was a part of the audience there. Rene, I thought, was great as a Trill. He really was. Having him play Curzon was absolutely magnificent. I loved working with him in those scenes. He just blew my mind."

During the hiatus between seasons three and four, Farrell spent much of the time with family and friends at her California beach house. She also shot action footage for the recently released interactive CD-ROM game Treasure Quest, a mystery in which Farrell plays 10 different roles. So tough is the game that the very first winner will receive a million dollars. The actress was still filming pick-up shots and looping her dialogue for the CD-ROM when production revved up again on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Season four kicked in with "The Way of the Warrior," the two-hour opener that introduced Worf ( Michael Dorn ), the beloved Klingon of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame, to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fold. Farrell is quite pleased with the addition of Dorn to the crew. " I'm so glad that Michael's here because I think his character offers not just a revival of The Next Generation, but also a different kind of curmudgeon than we have with Odo. Worf doesn't mince words and he isn't sarcastic," she maintains. " He's very direct. I think that's an asset. If he doesn't agree with something, he tells you he doesn't agree. I like that. I also like Michael and I'm happy to have him around. "

Of course, the next major episode to feature Dax was the controversial hour entitled "Rejoined," in which the Dax symbiont reassociated with Lenara Khan ( Susanna Thompson), whose previous Trill host was Dax's greatest love. So unacceptable is reassociation to Trill society that the penalty is permanent exile and the death of the symbiont when the host body expires. Though Dax is willing to put everything on the line to persue a relationship, Lenara won't take the risk, once again making Dax a loser in the crazy game of love. "It was a lost love episode, absolutely," says Farrell. "I'm so glad we got to do it. It was an important show. It's interesting to see how people react to 'Rejoined'. I like the idea of sending people a bigger message that they're used to seeing on TV, something that makes them think and gives them something to talk about.

"I think the show is so appropriate so Dax, more appropriate that for any other character on television. That's because Dax always had this duality. She has been a man and a woman several times. Any entity that has that duality is going to have some controversy surrounding it, even though the story is not about a gay relationship. I have several friends that are gay and I don't judge them for that. In fact, I applaud their honesty. I applaud anybody who is honest about how they feel and who they are. It's not easy for most gay people to be honest about it because they're often treated poorly. I feel badly for people who stay in the closet and secretly feel like they're living another life and they can't tell their friends or family.

"In the show, Dax in the one who's willing to push everything aside fir this relationship. That love is so important to her she's willing to never go back to Trill again. It's Lenara who can't deal with the social pressure. I was very pleased that I got to do that show and be on that side of the argument. Avery did a wonderful job of directing the episode. It wasn't at all about technoabbble. We were dealing with emotions and confusion, which is what I got hired to do on the show. It was a fun challenge for me as an actress. I'm not attracted to women. I love people, but I wasn't completely comfortable shooting the episode or kissing Susanna. Avery was professional and artistically wise enough to give me and Susanna, who was great, enough space and time to get where we needed to go as actresses to make the scenes work. I was wrestling with the thought that people are going to come away from this thinking,'Ah, this is the real Terry Farrell.' I'm not gay, but if people think I am fro seeing 'Rejoined,' I guess I did my job. It's called acting."

The range of episodes, from "Equilibrium" to "Rejoined," begs a multitude of questions. For example, whatever happened to the much-hinted-at possibility of a Dax - Bashir relationship? What has Farrell made of being directed by Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton, as well as co-stars Brooks and Auberjonois? Does Farrell herself want to move behind the camera? Does she think The addition of the USS Defiant has opened up the show any? Is the ongoing Dominion sub-plot worth persuing? Farrell can't help but laugh as the questions are rattled off one after another. "Can I try answering them one at a time?" she wonders.

"Dax wouldn't sleep with Bashir because he's not old enough. He could not handle it. A roll in the hay is all it would be. Dax would want more than that. He's very young and seems to be a bit of a dog with women. Dax would be much more apt to get involved with someone more complex. the tease stuff with Sid was fun to play - I adore Sid- but I'm glad they let it go," she admits. "Many people ask me about Sisko, especially after the alternate world episode ("Through the Looking Glass"). He has such a powerful presance, so it might be interesting. I haven't thought about it going any farther because they didn't really touch it after that show."

Over the years, Farrell has been put through her acting paces by several gentlemen best known for their work before the camera, most notably Frakes, Brooks, Burton, and Auberjonois. Frakes directed "The search, Part II," "Meridian," and "Past Tense, part II," while Brooks helmed "The Abandoned," "Fascination," and "Rejoined," Burton called the shots on "Indiscreation," and Auberjonois did the same on "Prophet Motive," "Family Business," and "Hipocratic Oath". Farrell utters only words of praise when discussing the quartet. "I love Jonathan. He's so much fun to work with because you really don't feel like you're working," she reasons. " He gives great notes. He's very clear and honest, and I really appreciate that.When you go to work and do the best you can, you don't want someone pussyfooting around with you. You just want a director to tell you straight if you're giving him what he's after. Jonathan tells you straight.

"Avery has a real passion for the craft or acting and you can't help but get caught up in it, especially when he directs. I think he did a really great job with 'Rejoined.' I still feel I'm not the best actress I can be yet, and he gave me some of his passion. It was like, ' Oh God, yes. This is about what I love to do.' It's funny, I hardly worked with LeVar and Rene because I was barely in their episodes. I like LeVar and I hope to do more with him. I must say that it's really nice to be on the set when Rene is directing, because it's really the only time I see him out of his makeup.He seems really comfortable as a director. He knows exactly what he wants and he always looks like he enjoys what he's doing."

And might the day come when Farrell will want to move behind the camera and direct an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? "To be honest, I've thought about it. I've sat in on some of the meetings, but I don't know that this show would be something I could direct," she says. "I know there would be many people around to hold the bag if I screwed up. I really don't know. I'm interested in exploring it, so we'll se what happens."

As for the matters of the USS Defiant and the Dominion, Farrell voices strong opinions on both. The USS Defiant has helped her secure more screen time, as it's usually Dax at the controls of the powerful warship. The Dominion sub-plots, which also include the Founders and the Jem'Hadar, it seems, are often as confusing to her as they are to Trekkers.

"I love the Defiant because I fly it," says Farrell, laughing. "I'm just being really honest here. I love sitting in that chair on that set and flying that thing. Dax gets a lot of her best action moments on the Defiant. I know this is going to sound terrible, but I don't put much thought into the whole Dominion thing. We're into the fourth season and I want to see where my character can go. I can talk to you for hours about the aliens, as if they're real. But we both know they're not. If they're going to do something interesting with the Dominion, great, but if they're going to let it hang there, there's nothing I can do about it."

Returning specifically to Dax, Farrell reports that even after four years there is still plenty of room for her to develop the character. "I'm interested in seeing what they give me to do in trying to top 'Rejoined.' This year is already very exciting. I'm very excited that Michael Dorn is with us. I hope Dax and Worf will have some good scenes together," she notes. "It has always been exciting to see what they're going to do. Again, it's not like we ( the actors) have story meetings. We don't know what's going to happen on the show until we read the script. I can't imagine them throwing me a more challenging script than 'Rejoined,' but I hope they'll try. I'm ready."

Farrell knows that she'll probably be aboard Station Deep Space Nine for another season or two, perhaps even three. Though she's certain she'll be prepared to move on with the rest of her career, she also states her hope that Dax will always be a part of her life. Beyond meeting the fans on the convention circuit, Farrell figures she may be called back to Paramount every few years after Deep Space Nine beams off the sir as a series for big-screen adventures or two-hour telemovies. "I would love to see a Deep Space Nine movie. We'll see what happens. I don't think they'll be incorporating the space station into the Next Generation films. I think we would have to be a separate entity, and that can't happen until we're off the air for a couple of years. So, it's a ways off. But if it works out, I'd love to do it. It would be fun to go back and be Dax again every once in a while and to work with all my friends here again. We'll see. If it happens," concludes Terry Farrell, "count me in."

---Star Trek: Deep Spce Nine The Official Magazine, October 1995