By Stuart Matranga, special to TVQuest
At least one contingent of Terry Farrell's fan club is glad she quit ''Deep Space Nine'' to join ''Becker'' -- her mom. ''She liked Star Trek: The Next Generation'' because of Patrick Stewart, but I don't think she was that into ''Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,'' says Farrell, who's just finished shooting a scene with Ted Danson, the star of ''Becker'' (9:30 ET Mondays on CBS). ''Too many aliens and action sequences before bed. I think my whole family prefers 'Becker' because it's lighter and fun and, of course, there's Ted.'' Although the folks back home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa may sigh with relief to see Farrell without those Trillian spots on her neck and face, Trekkers were woebegone over the death of Jadzia Dax, the character Farrell played for six years.
''I was ready to move on,'' says Farrell of her decision not to renew her contract for the seventh and final year of ''Deep Space Nine.'' ''I just realized I don't want to be here anymore. I had enough.''
''I didn't really like the feeling of going home after the week and getting paid for a whole episode, but only working one day,'' says Farrell in her cramped trailer just outside the soundstage. ''It wasn't fun. It was like a job. I didn't come here to Hollywood to work as little as possible. I guess it works for some people, and sometimes I think I would like to have a career where I do one movie a year. Wouldn't that be great? But right now, I don't have a family. I'm not married, no kids. I want to work. On 'DS9' they don't know what the schedule is going to be from one day to the next, so you couldn't plan anything without risking disappointing people. Quite frequently, I'd have these dramas--'Sorry. I gotta cancel. I didn't know. I'm sorry.' That's really exhausting.''
In the season finale last year, the powers-that-be reduced Dax's send-off to a passing plot point. ''But that's when they all believed me, finally,'' says Farrell.
''When they read that last episode and the cast would come up to me and say. 'Oh my God, you're really gonna die.' It was very weird. I felt like I was letting people down, especially the cast and the staff, the crew, I know a lot of fans on the Internet were upset that Dax died. But, hey, I would have done a recurring part. Nobody wanted to talk about that. Even while I was doing 'Becker,' I could have done it.''
It would have been easy. Both ''Becker'' and ''DS9'' are shot on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, about a hundred yards apart. ''To be on the same lot is very strange,'' says Farrell, taller in person than she appears on the small screen. Lean and sensuous in her Catwoman black tights, Farrell explains, ''It's like the old studio system, when you'd go from one movie to the next and in between it's like, when's my tap dancing lesson? Not only that, I died on a Tuesday, on Wednesday I was reading for the 'Becker' pilot. Ted goes, 'She's dead--yew!' They kidded me about it a lot and it helped me relax for the audition. I thought they must really like me if they're willing to cast a dead girl.''
Still, Farrell had to fight for the part, returning for half a dozen callbacks before she got hired.
Farrell has a lot in common with her ''Becker'' character Reggie, the diner owner who has to put up with Becker's churlish rants. Both were former models, both single, in their mid-thirties. One difference: ''If it was really me, I'd tell Becker 'Go eat someplace else if you're so miserable.' But Reggie wouldn't do that, so maybe Dave Hackel [''Becker'''s creator and executive producer] sees another side of me I don't see walking around in my own skin. I guess he thinks I'm as tolerant and kind as Reggie, which is nice.
''There was a strength and a centered-ness about Dax that as a young woman of 28 I really needed. She helped bring those things out in me. Reggie is much more laid-back than Dax. There was a strength and a centered-ness about Dax that as a young woman of 28, I really needed when I first got that part. And as I'm living with her now, Reggie is helping me out, too. I like her kick-back personality. She's more real. No spots. It's nice to play a human being.''
It's also nice to be a star in a hit sitcom with Ted Danson. ''He's so much fun to work with and so generous as an actor,'' says Farrell, ''that even though it's his show, he makes everyone feel it's about them.
''When I went home to Cedar Rapids, I went shopping with my sister,'' says Farrell, ''and every store we went it was either 'Hey Dax' or 'Hey Reggie' or 'My God!' I was signing autographs, all of it. It was great. I was even attacked at the Olive Garden. That's when I knew I was on my way.'' Top of page
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