Monday, June 4, 2007
Chase Masterson Speaks Candidly about DS9, Leeta, and "Catsuit Controversies."
While Chase Masterson prepares for the release of the upcoming film "Yesterday Was A Lie" in which she plays a leading role, she was kind enough to answer our questions surrounding the character of Leeta and Deep Space Nine.
*photo from "Yesterday Was A Lie."
TD: Chase, you’ve interviewed so many Trek actors and insiders on theFandom.com, from George Takei to Brannon Braga. Which interview was your favorite and why?
Chase: That's a fabulous question--there were so many fun & intriguing ones, in different ways.
The interview with Ira Behr was definitely a favorite--he's so down-to-earth, so emotionally wise, genuine. That's why DS9 was such an important show, such a compelling one, because he and his team wrote out of their hearts, they created out of who they are.
I loved interviewing Ron Moore for that same reason, and because he has such a great story of how he got in to this business, and he's so very talented and still so humble.
Interviewing George was fun, as he's a pal, and it's always great to chat with someone who has seen so much of this amazing phenomenon. Marina was a real kick (when is she not?), and the Enterprise guys were a really interesting bunch, as we talked mid-stream through the campaign to keep the show on. That was an important time, and even though the campaign wasn't a success, it was heartening to see the commitment the fans still have to Star Trek.
There were other shows, too, with actors who are sci-fi favorites, like Bruce Campbell and Dean Haglund. Zany! But very real. I think that, often, the most talented people are a combo of that & more.
TD: Do you plan to continue interviewing for theFandom.com, or has your focus shifted to other endeavors? What does the future hold?
Chase: I'm not doing those interviews currently, and I don't have any plans to do that in the future. The company who I did those for has really changed focus, and my plate is really full lately, too. More on this later...
TD: Could we get your perspective on some of “catsuit controversies” during the past decade? When the producers of Star Trek: Voyager replaced Kes with Seven of Nine, many fans as well as Trek actors bitterly complained about “TandA ratings gimmicks” and the objectification of a woman’s body with TOS-style “tin-foil bikinis.” These criticisms continued into the Enterprise years when some fans argued that the producers catered to the lowest denominator with steamy “decon-chamber rub-downs” and “T’pol in Heat.” Having played one of the sexiest women of the Trek franchise, what is your take on these controversies and complaints? Did you feel like the character of Leeta was an “eye candy” addition to cast?
Chase: Thanks for the compliment! I’m blushing.
Where do I begin on this? It seems that some characters, including Seven of Nine and T'Pol, were written for those reasons. I agree with the fans' sentiments that it seems that this kind of writing is done in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator; that happens on a lot of shows, but I don't believe it needs to, and it definitely shouldn't have to happen on Trek. There's so much more to focus on, and the fans of this show recognize that. I wish this industry generally respected viewers more, but a lot of people in this business don’t even respect themselves.
I didn't watch every episode of Voyager & Enterprise, and maybe there were some really redeeming qualities in those characters and their arcs, so I don't want to say I have a really solid take on this subject where those characters are concerned.
I want to make this clear: this is not a statement on either of the actresses who played the roles; I think it's a natural temptation for viewers to hold an actor accountable for the choices the character makes, but it's not the actors' fault, you know?
As for Leeta, it's hard to see myself as being seen in that way--I just don't think I'm eye candy. But even if Leeta were written for that reason, I’m thankful that the writers very quickly put a depth into the character that I hope made up for it. The journey that Leeta went on, in standing up for what is right in the Ferengi union, and in loving the guy who was only pretty on the inside, and especially in her having the strength required to remain committed throughout the inherent difficulties in their relationship, was an example to me of the kind of choices that are healthiest to make — maybe not the easiest, but the most joyful & growth-inducing, in the long run. I hope it was an example to other people, too.
Again, I don't know the journeys that the characters of Seven of Nine and T'Pol made, so I can't really judge that.
TD: Speaking of Leeta/Rom, was the inter-species relationship between the two characters as well-developed as it could have been? Bajoran and Ferengi culture were so different. Although Rom certainly wasn’t a typical Ferengi, it seems that there could have been much more conflict between them in terms of religion, morals, cultural assumptions, gender roles, etc. Did you feel like the writers and producers missed any opportunities to make the relationship more complex?
Chase: There were so many wonderfully complex characters and situations in DS9, it would have been impossible for the writers to have explored all the possibilities for all of the characters. Thank you for wanting more! We did, too. But we realize that the writers created a beautiful amount of thoroughness in our characters and situations, especially considering the amount of screen time that was shared with so many other characters, and we were so blessed to be in a quality show like this at all. There are so many talented actors who never get to work, much less on something that is both so meaningful and so well loved.
I think some of the possibilities that Leeta and Rom had are explored in the novels. I have some ideas. Should I write one?
TD: Absolutely! Trekdom would love to publish excerpts... So many, many fans rate Deep Space Nine as the best Trek series in terms of writing, complex themes, provocative “morality plays,” and character development. Yet, the series lost more and more viewers each season. Do you have any theories that explain this paradox? Did the show demand too much from casual viewers? Were there other factors?
Chase: I didn’t realize that the show lost viewers with each season. It’s possible that the serial nature of the show intimidated some people who didn’t think they’d be able to catch up after missing some episodes. But the serial nature of the show—following the characters in their ongoing life stories—was such a huge part of what made the show great, and unique at the time; DS9 was truly a forerunner of what television at its finest was morphing into.
One interesting thing is this: there are so many people who were not fans of the show while it was first airing who have become fans through watching it on Spike or watching the DVDs. Ira Behr actually predicted that—it was back in the 5th season that he said that he thought that once it was on in classic syndication style, running episodes back to back, that more people would really grasp the quality of the show. And they have.
TD: Thank you for your time Chase.
Chase: Thank you, Trekdom! My pleasure…all the best to you!
Please visit http://www.YesterdayWasALie.com for more info on Chase Masterson's next starring role. Visit http://www.chaseclub.com/thefandom.html to listen to her archived interviews of Trek stars and insiders.
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