[Note: This interview was conducted at ValleyCon 38, held October 19-21, 2012 in Fargo, North Dakota. See my personal recap of the convention here. — Managing Editor Charlynn Schmiedt]
Char: You’ve had a long career. You started as a child — and I’m kind of curious, because I’m not an actor — when you’re a child, how do you know that is what you want to do? It seems to me that lot of people know from a young age, “I want to act.” So, can you tell me a little bit about what helped you make that decision?
NdB: I don’t think that I really thought that I was gonna do it as a career when I was young. I just started being interested in it. It says this in a lot of my bios, but I was a really shy little girl. And then when I was nine, we did this play, The Wizard of Oz, at school, and I just stunned my family by coming home with the part of Dorothy. Somehow, I just loved transforming myself into this other character. I wasn’t shy to become someone else. To be myself, like if we had to speech arts in school and stand in front of the class, I went red. I got hives on my neck. I hated it. But to become another character was great. I loved it. And so it just started happening. My grandma took me downtown to get my first agent, and I just started doing it, and it was fun. By the time I got to be about 17… well actually, prior to that, I stopped acting for awhile because I was a punk rocker and I had really weird hair and I shaved my head. So, I kind of fell out of acting in commercial work, but I was also in a theatre group. I still did that because we did the classics and I could wear wigs. So I kept up my theatre, but I didn’t call my agent for a couple of years. And then one day, I decided to grow my hair back normal and I phoned my agent, and the first thing I got was a TV series. At that point, I was turning 18 and I was making really good money and I was on a very big TV show in Canada, and I thought, “I guess this is what I do! This is what I’m going to do.”
Char: So it didn’t really hit you right away?
NdB: No, because I was still going to school and getting really good marks and I wanted to be a lawyer.
Char: Ah, okay.
NdB: But then one day I just kind of went, “Wait a minute. I’m being paid well. I’m having a blast. I enjoy it. I seem to be good at it, so I guess this is what I do.”
Char: Yeah, why not, right?
NdB: But you know what? I didn’t go to university, and I still kind of kick myself for that. [Laughter]
Char: But you know what’s great is you can always go back to school.
NdB: That’s true.
Char: It’s always there. You can do that at any time in your life. As we talked last night, if you get involved in psychology, hey! It’s there!
NdB: There you go! Yeah! It’s something I could start now.
Char: It’s never too late.
NdB: That’s true. But there is an interesting thing about starting acting as a child as opposed to deciding in your late teens or early twenties that you want to be an actor and start training. As a child, you haven’t learned in society how to hide certain things yet. So when you go to learn how to be an actor when you’re older, the first thing they will teach you is to get rid of that. You want to be able to put yourself out on a sleeve and have no shame — just get it all out. As a kid, you naturally do that. You haven’t learned through society to hide stuff, hide stuff, hide stuff.
Char: That’s an interesting point. I hadn’t thought about that.
NdB: All child actors sort of can get there quicker, I find. When I worked on The Dead Zone with Anthony Michael Hall, he was a child actor, and I kind of felt that from him, too. You can just get to those emotions a lot quicker.
Char: One thing that I’ve noticed in your filmography is that you’ve done lots of sci-fi. You did TekWar, Stargate, and then of course, Deep Space Nine. Is this something you just fell into or was it because of an interest in sci-fi?
NdB: Definitely something I fell into. I mean, I’ve never been at a level — Only the biggest actors get to pick and choose what they want. The rest of us are out there auditioning and hoping. Whatever we get, we get. The great thing about being an actor in Toronto, where I grew up, is that a lot of American shows film there, but they need to hire Canadians for most of the parts. That’s the reason why they would get their tax breaks for working up there. So that would work to your benefit up there. That’s why I end up working in a lot of shows up in Canada. But it just so happened that a lot of sci-fi was filming there. And also, I guess, once you do a few, then the producers from some shows who are fans of other shows know that you were in that show, and they know that the fans will know.
Char: That’s true. Sci-fi is kind of a tight-knit group.
NdB: It is a tight circle. So then they think, “Oh, I would like to have her. She was on Outer Limits.” So it just sort of happens that way. And you get good at the jargon. You do it better than other actors who haven’t done it before, so then you do end up making the rounds.
Char: You’ve got to tech the tech, right?
NdB: Tech the tech, exactly. [Laughter]
Char: As far as Deep Space Nine goes, you came on in the seventh season. Was that difficult in terms of coming on for a show that had been well-established and you’re the new person on the block? Did you feel like Ezri did, where she’s in the midst of this thing that’s been going on for awhile?
NdB: Well, exactly! That’s a really good point. That’s what I went with because I realized that’s what my character was going through. Ezri was thrown into this world. She didn’t want to be joined. She just happened to be there and they needed a Trill to put it in [the Dax symbiont], so she got thrown into it. Now she’s going back like in a wave, feeling that she knows these people, but she doesn’t know these people. It was great because they had little introduction scenes for me with everybody because they’re re-meeting me again. For me as an actor, that was great. It was my way of having a scene with Armin [Shimerman], and then a scene with Michael Dorn, so it was a great way to ease into it. It all happened so fast. I got the part so quickly and then I was suddenly in L.A. and suddenly filming, so I didn’t really have too much time to think about it, which is good because I probably would have been more freaked out and realized the magnitude of the fandom.
Char: So you weren’t entirely aware of that when you busted into it?
NdB: No. On my first day on set, I showed up and there were two garbage bags full of fan mail, and I hadn’t even shot anything yet. But what was great about this show is that it was one more coming into the family. They [the cast] have all known each other forever, and they were excited to have some fresh blood.
Char: So they embraced it?
NdB: They totally embraced it. They’re all such pros, so it was a thrill to work with such great character actors, veteran actors, you know? It felt pretty easy, I have to say. It felt pretty smooth.
Char: Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about the [Deep Space Nine] novels. Ezri is a captain in the books.
NdB: So cool! Woo!
Char: That’s the ultimate, right? So, have you read any of the books and do you know what she’s doing?
NdB: No, I haven’t. I’m so bad. David Mack gave me the books and I have them in my cupboard, and when my daughter sees them she asks, “Why is your face on a book, Mommy?” [Laughter] Have you read them?
Char: I’ve read some of them. I have the jist. But I’d like to know, having not read the books, what do you want Ezri to do after Deep Space Nine?
NdB: I don’t know. Just the fact she got to captain – I mean, that is pretty cool – and it does make sense for Ezri because she was on that sort of trajectory. She was growing. I would have liked to have had a little longer on the show to become even more confident. What would be cool is if we did another show and you did see me walk through the doors with wonderful confidence because she was so lost before. And they [the other characters] would be like, “Whoa! That’s Ezri! She’s really grown a lot.” But then we could also see how those people inside her have manifested in interesting ways now that she’s really grasped how to do it. That would be really fun just to explore all that stuff but with more confidence than I could at the time because it was brand-new for her.
Char: You mentioned a TNG/Deep Space Nine crossover [before the interview]. It sounds like you’d be pretty game to do that at some point.
NdB: Oh gosh, yeah.
Char: It would be fun if we could see where they are now and update us somehow on what’s happened with these characters since we left them.
NdB: That would be so great. I would do it in a heartbeat. That would be amazing.
Char: Okay, one final question.
NdB: One thing I have to add is that I am bummed out that I wasn’t dating Worf and I was dating Julian because I was like, “Now I can’t get in the movies!”
Char: That’s right! Worf was the key, wasn’t he?
NdB: And I could have been singing Klingon opera with him and Patrick Stewart in the next film, and I was like, “Damn.” Oh well.
Char: It’s a shame that they didn’t wait just a little longer because Worf and Ezri were trying to figure things out for awhile.
NdB: In the end, I don’t really care [about not dating Worf]. I just really wanted to be in the movies.
Char: I don’t blame you. I would have, too. Do you think Julian and Ezri lasted?
NdB: No. I think when she got her stuff together, she probably ate him for breakfast. I’m kidding. [Laughter] They were very cute, but I don’t know if they would have lasted. I think they might have been sent to different places, and long-distance relationships…
Char: Well, considering that Ezri became a captain…do you want a little spoiler on what’s happened in the books?
NdB: Yeah, tell me.
Char: They broke up.
NdB: Ah, okay! So there you go. I knew it!
Char: I think she dumped Julian so she could focus on her career, and he’s so focused on what he’s doing that it makes sense. It was cute when it happened, but…yeah. Maybe she’ll get back with Worf and we’ll see what happens there.
Char: Okay, so the final question: What is next for you? Do you have anything coming up, or is there something you want to do aside from a Deep Space Nine revival?
NdB: The one thing that my manager keeps saying to me to do is to write. I don’t even have a blog or anything and it’s silly. [I’ve had] so many crazy experiences – going to all of these conventions all over the world – and not just that, but other things in my life. So I’ve considered writing and every week, it starts fresh. I say, “This is the week. I’m gonna get up, get my daughter to school, and then start writing.” I just haven’t done it yet, but I feel I am on the precipice of doing it. I have some things I’ve written. Normally, I write about those strange things on planes while I’m traveling alone. I think there’s something about that recycled air that gets me going. [Laughter] Honestly, I think there’s something in that airplane air!
Char: [Laughter] Hey, if it works!
NdB: But I can’t be buying myself tickets everywhere just to get my writer on.
Char: No, that’s expensive.
NdB: But that’s what I’m looking at, because you can’t just sit around waiting for the phone to ring. That just makes you crazy. In the meantime, I’m really loving being a mom. It’s so great and it is a gift. It’s great having a little girl.
Char: Well, thank you so much for your time. It was great talking with you.
NdB: Thank you!