Nicole de Boer Shares the Secrets of Becoming One of ‘Star Trek’s’ Trills

"Star Trek" cast member Nicole DeBoer autographs "Star Trek" memorabilia at the Light Speed Fine Arts gallery December 08, 2001

Sebastian Artz/Getty Images "Star Trek" cast member Nicole DeBoer autographs "Star Trek" memorabilia at the Light Speed Fine Arts gallery December 08, 2001

Nicole de Boer joined the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” cast in the show’s seventh season. The role was a unique opportunity, the likes of which only exist in the sci-fi genre. Her character, Ezri Dax, took on the Trill symbiont formerly joined with the character Jadzia Dax, portrayed by longtime “Star Trek” actress Terry Farrell. In effect, de Boer took over the role formerly played by Farrell and created her own, new character at the same time.

Ezri’s experience of joining a well-established, tight-knit crew mirrored de Boer’s experience joining a cast that had been working together for over six years. Both the character and the actress also had to deal with the fact that their presence was a constant reminder of their predecessors — Jadzia and Farrell.

In an exclusive interview with Heavy, de Boer revealed what it was like to join the cast in the show’s final season and what it was like to step into Farrell’s shoes.

Joining the ‘Deep Space Nine’ Family

When Farrell left “Deep Space Nine” at the end of the sixth season, the writers had to figure out how to bring in a new character to continue the story of the Dax symbiont. Bradley Thomspon, one of the DS9 writers, told the authors of “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years” that making Ezri so different from Jadzia was a deliberate decision. They really wanted to differentiate the characters, while maintaining the connection between them. They also wanted to differentiate the actresses, and Thompson said that de Boer was perfect for that purpose.

Though joining the cast of a show for the final season was a challenge, de Boer revealed that it wasn’t nearly as difficult as people think.

“I always get asked about ‘That must have been so difficult for you to join this cast this far along. And it was a little bit, but it really wasn’t that hard in a way… First of all, I was coming into a show that was a well-oiled machine. It wasn’t a brand new show where we’re all feeling each other out, where we’re all not certain in our characters. I mean it helped me so much to come in to these fully realized characters.”

de Boer also credited the writing staff with making her job easier.

“I was given scenes with each character, slowly brought in. And I was working with the actor and Ezri was coming in and saying ‘Hi it’s me again,’ you know, reintroducing herself.”

She said that they did such a brilliant job creating and introducing her character that it was easy to just slide in.

Filling Farrell’s Shoes

When de Boer joined the show, she had the unenviable task of replacing a beloved actress who’d left the show under difficult circumstances.

“Of course, I didn’t know about any of her issues with the producers or how she left the show. I didn’t know any of that at the time, especially when I was cast. I had no idea. All I knew was that she was on ‘Becker’ and I thought, ‘Awesome!’ She’s gone on, she’s on other shows. I was just an actor happy to land a job.”

Though the circumstances were less than ideal, de Boer said that the cast’s love for Farrell and the characters’ love for Jadzia made it easier for her to join the show.

“They have so much love for Jadzia, and I am, although a painful reminder for them as well, there is an immediate welcoming because of that factor. You know, because they miss her so and I’m a connection for them. So, that made it easier for me. And really interesting too… I’m not saying it was easy to do it. I’m saying this whole fact of coming into a show later, it was so nice to have that connection, the same thing Ezri was going through… I can draw on this.”

de Boer took her own experience of being the new person on the set and infused it into her character to create a truly authentic portrayal.

Creating a New Dax

One of the other challenges de Boer faced was creating a new interpretation of a very well-established character. She had to be the Dax everyone was used to seeing, but she also had to be a new Dax.

de Boer revealed that she drew on a lot of her own experiences to create Ezri. One of the reasons the character came across as so vulnerable and real was because de Boer identified with her so much.

“I also just understood [Ezri] when I read her, as so many of us do… When you’re young you’re trying to figure out who you are. So, of course, when I read Ezri I could relate! No, I didn’t get a worm put into my belly. But of course, I understand what it’s like to try to figure out who you are as you grow, and your identity. That’s a huge discovery, one that we’re on throughout our whole lives, but very much so when we’re younger. So, I really loved exploring that with Ezri.”

de Boer went on to describe what it was like to create a brand new Dax. She emphasized how important it was to her that fans see Ezri as an incredible person all on her own.

“We got to see that she was this awesome young woman in her own right, I mean she made it through Starfleet Academy. That’s no easy thing to do. And she was a counselor, and she was doing that. And she was so brave. She wanted to leave the station, but she stayed in the end, and had to deal with Garak… You have to challenge yourselves in these little ways to grow as a person and find out who you are and what you’re made of.”

de Boer said that Ezri’s vulnerability and willingness to grow were the best parts of her character because they made her so real and relatable. She said that she loved both playing the character and the “Star Trek” family that welcomed her so warmly.

de Boer is still an avid participant in the Trekverse, though she hasn’t been onscreen in over 20 years. She regularly attends “Star Trek” conventions and loves meeting her fans. She’s excited to get back to the convention circuit now that they’re starting up again. She’ll be at Star Trek Las Vegas in August and hopes to head abroad for more appearances this fall.

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