We chat with one of Sci-Fi’s greatest doctors about DS9 and his new indie hit Cairo Time.
|By Jordan Hoffman May 6, 2010|
On Being Bashir:
Jordan Hoffman: Before we talk about your new indie Cairo Time, let’s talk about the greatest television series in the history of time, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It’ll always be the greatest and, for better or worse, no matter where you go we will always love Dr. Bashir and his adventures. The show has been off the air for -
Alexander Siddig: A decade.
Jordan Hoffman: Over a decade.
Alexander Siddig: Yeah, a decade and then some.
Jordan Hoffman: I’m just curious to know, now that you’ve got a lot of time behind it, what it’s like if you’re flipping channels or somebody calls you Dr. Bashir on the street?
Alexander Siddig: You know, I got over the whole cool stage of trying to pretend I hadn’t anything to do with it and acting like ‘sci-fi sucks,’ which I immediately went to when I finished the show. Because I was blasé, I needed to distance myself from it to get a career going. But I grew up there; literally from my mid-twenties to my early thirties and it’s home. And I still do, anytime there’s a show that reminds me of it, in structure – I’m doing a fantasy show right now with dinosaurs only because it’s a similar kind of thing, because it’s relaxed so I’m doing two seasons worth of being sort of one of their guys on one of their shows.
Jordan Hoffman: This is Primeval, yes?
Alexander Siddig: Yes, and kids – my son who’s thirteen; everybody actually loves it – it’s a family show but my son who’s thirteen just made a ton of friends at school because I’m doing that show. And I will always have a soft spot, as long as I live, for doing crazy, geeky sci-fi shows. And I hope to goodness that people keep offering me them because I love them.
Changing the DNA:
Alexander Siddig: Yeah, there was an episode where they gave me a genetic modification. (Dr. Bashir, I Presume Season 5, Episode 16)
Jordan Hoffman: Oh, well that wasn’t an episode that was a major change in your character!
Alexander Siddig: But it arrived, I didn’t know about it on Tuesday, and on Thursday the script arrived – we started shooting on Friday. I was so shocked. You know you get the impression that maybe the producers sit down and talk about strategies and character arcs with actors but this thing came out of the blue and pissed me off so royally. It was a reaction to the fact that the character was genuinely unpopular in the early days. Because he was not fancy; I mean this is a time where 90210 was at the top of the charts in American TV and this guy was so not the hunk, he was the anti-hunk. He was the -
Jordan Hoffman: He was a man of science! That’s what he was!
Alexander Siddig: He was a man of science; he was like half good looking, rubbish at pulling girls. I mean it was all the wrong kind of archetypes. And so they kept trying to do things to make it happen. Eventually they did the Bond thing (reference to Our Man Bashir) – they did the Bond thing before that actually. And that kicked it off. I have to say that I’m still pretty angry. Well, not angry . . .
Jordan Hoffman: You have a craft, and you fill out a back-story of the character and you work at it for three years, four years and one day they walk in and say “guess what, you have this secret you’ve been keeping from everybody”.
Alexander Siddig: Exactly. And everything you’ve done could have been completely different had I known.
Jordan Hoffman: So did you go to the producers and voice your displeasure or just roll with it?
Alexander Siddig: I did it the only way that an actor can. I completely destroyed the lines that they gave me regarding the situation. Every time something came up that was to do with being kind of Data-esque – I mean, I couldn’t get away from the fact – I thought I was being a Data, which is what they wanted to do, they wanted to switch the characters from all the shows, which they ended up doing with Voyager -
Jordan Hoffman: Which may have been a problem for that show. . .
Alexander Siddig: Well, it was a bit cynical at the end of the day. But I just fluffed the lines; well I didn’t fluff them completely I literally pinned the lines on the back of someone’s shoulder once, reading them. I wasn’t bothered even to learn them. I just pinned them around the office as if they were lines needed for daily modification. And they got the message and dropped it kind of.
Jordan Hoffman: Okay, so maybe they scaled that story arc back a little bit?
Alexander Siddig: They did.