How Star Trek: Lower Decks' Showrunner Helped Deep Space Nine And Other Legacy Guest Stars Settle Back Into Their Roles For The Comedy Series

Kira and Quark on Star Trek: Lower Decks
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode “Hear All, Trust Nothing.” Read at your own risk!

Star Trek: Lower Decks threw things back to Deep Space Nine in its latest episode by bringing some beloved characters from the beloved series into the fold. Nana Visitor and Armin Shimerman returned as Kira and Quark, respectively, who were slightly sillier than their live-action counterparts. It’s one thing to return to a character after decades of being away from them, but it's another thing to perform them within the parameters of a different genre. As such, I asked LD showrunner Mike McMahan about the challenges that come with integrating legacy actors into the show, and he explained how he helps them settle back into their roles. 

“Hear All, Trust Nothing,” is not the first time that Star Trek: Lower Decks has invited a franchise actor to reprise their role, albeit in a more inflated and comedic way. (Fans may remember Jonathan Frakes’ run as Riker in Season 2.) Mike McMahan broke down the process of not only helping the franchise's legacy actors find the comedic side of their characters but also ensuring that the dialogue remains true to the actors' roles: 

For any Legacy character, it's what can we write that the actor is going to get into the booth that they can perform it in a way that truly feels like they're playing the same character they did decades ago but in a way that also fits into the show. It has to really clearly fit into the stakes of the episode, and then you have to give them, like, in as few lines as possible, almost this pedigree of the character. They immediately feel like the very first few things they're saying aren't at odds with… almost a decade of making the shows that they were on.

Star Trek: Lower Decks might’ve irked fans in the past due to some controversial and raunchy scenes, but many fans would defend the care it takes in ensuring its fun falls within the parameters of franchise canon. Given that, it’s no surprise that Mike McMahan and the writing team were careful when it came to ensuring that Kira and Quark still sounded like themselves. 

Getting the character right on the page is one thing, but then there’s also guiding the talented actors so that they give a performance that fits Star Trek: Lower Decks. Mike McMahan talked about the two-way process that takes place between him and the stars when it comes time for the latter to record their dialogue:

Whenever we go into record anybody, I'm always like, for Nana [Visitor] or Armin [Shimerman] or anybody, I'm like, ‘Okay, here's how I want you to play this, but now I want to do a take where [you] play it like this isn't a comedy. You're just back making Deep Space Nine. How would you perform that straight for that show?’ And then they'll do that, and suddenly It's like, ‘Oh wait! Do that again but pace it up just slightly.’ And then they start playing with it too where they're like, ‘Oh wait, wait, what about this?’ And it's like we get to this thing that like no one of us could have gotten to, but it's a merger of all of it together.

Lower Decks delivered an episode dedicated to Deep Space Nine and, ultimately, it was a fitting tribute to a show that hasn’t gotten a lot of love in this new era of Trek. Here’s hoping the installment will lead to discussions of a potential live-action DS9-related project. Or at the very least, maybe the higher-ups will consider getting some of the Trek show's cast to return for something else. But as I hope for either of those scenarios, I just remain in awe of Mike McMahan and the thoughtful way that he's working with the franchise vets.

Snag a Paramount+ subscription to check out the latest Star Trek: Lower Decks crossover as well as all of the other great Trek shows that are out there. Also, stream Deep Space Nine on Paramount+ (opens in new tab), and keep your fingers and toes crossed that show is revived in some form or fashion.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.