Deep Space Nog: Another conversation with Aron Eisenberg…

The man behind the mask: Aron Eisenberg during last year’s interview in Las Vegas. That interview is available here: https://musingsofamiddleagedgeek.blog/2018/08/07/the-man-behind-the-mask-an-interview-with-star-trek-deep-space-nines-aron-eisenberg/

Last year at the annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, I had the privilege of interviewing Aron Eisenberg, the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (DS9) actor who played the Ferengi character “Nog.” Over the course of 7 seasons, Nog went from a petty thief to a decorated Starfleet officer… arguably the single greatest character arc in all of Star Trek. In that prior conversation, Aron talked about the specifics of playing the character, as well as working on the DS9 set under heavy prosthetics. He also talked about how his vocalizations were altered by wearing the prosthetic Ferengi teeth, which he used to play the character even in voiceover work for the video game “Star Trek Online.”

Nog (Aron Eisenberg) and his soon-to-be best friend Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) as they appeared in the earliest days of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The two former costars are now in a podcast together called “The 7th Rule.”

This year we managed to get in a few minutes for a second interview (again in Vegas). This time around we talked about Aron’s new podcast, “The 7th Rule”, in which he costars along with former DS9 cast mate and friend Cirroc Lofton (who played Jake Sisko on the series), as well as actor Ryan T. Husk (aka “The Incredible Husk”).

Screencap from “The 7th Rule”, with special guest Armin Shimerman (upper left).
Ryan T. Husk, Cirroc Lofton and Aron Eisenberg are clockwise from top right.

The three of them review Star Trek episodes past and present, including Deep Space Nine and the newer series “Star Trek: Discovery” (airing on CBS-AA). They also interview former Star Trek DS9 cast members such as Armin Shimerman, who played Ferengi “Quark”, and was a personal mentor to Eisenberg. Recently, the trio have also done a series of fan profiles on their podcast, in which they interview fans they’ve met at various conventions. It’s a nice way of reaching out to Star Trek fans. Aron, Cirroc and Ryan have an easy chemistry together on the podcast, and their constant ribbing of each other is hilarious at times. For more information on The 7th Rule, see subscription information and details following the interview.

An animated Captain Nog, as he might’ve appeared in a hypothetical 8th season of Deep Space Nine, as imagined by series writers Ira Steven Behr, Ron Moore, Rene Echevarria, Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Hans Beimler. You can see Aron Eisenberg’s um…passionate response to the fate of his character in the documentary “What We Left Behind” (2019), now available on a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.

Along with most of his former DS9 cast mates, Aron can also be seen in the crowdsourced DS9 documentary “What We Left Behind” (2019), produced by former DS9 writer/producer and showrunner Ira Steven Behr and director David Zappone, who’d worked on several prior Star Trek-themed documentaries.

All in the Ferengi Family: Aron, along with DS9 costars Chase Masterson (who played Nog’s step-moogie “Leeta”) and Max Grodenchik (who played Nog’s father, “Rom”). The three of them reunite in full makeup and costumes for their appearance at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention.

Aron is also very much about connecting with the greater fan community, not just at live conventions, but also in virtual appearances for those who are unable to attend conventions. He also feels very passionately about trying to bring some of Star Trek’s diversity and inclusivity into this world as well.

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Cirroc Lofton, Aron Eisenberg (as they appeared on Deep Space Nine) and Ryan T. Husk (‘the Incredible Husk’) are the stars of “The 7th Rule Podcast.”

Q: You, Cirroc Lofton and Ryan T. Husk have a podcast called “The 7th Rule.” How did the 7th Rule begin, and how did you get involved?

AE: So, I was doing another podcast (“The Alpha Quadrant”), and that one came to an end, and then I had Russ Haslage (of ODYSY Radio Network) ask me, “Aron, how about you bring that same idea over here to our radio station?”  I said, “Oh, I would love to.”  So I asked Cirroc Lofton if he’d like to join me, and we could talk about Star Trek shows, and have guests on the show, and actually do DS9 (Deep Space Nine reviews) again.  And he said, ‘I’d love to’, and that’s really how it started. 

A sample of artist JJ Lendl’s promotional artwork for “The 7th Rule” podcast.

Now we’ve really taken off, and I got the most wonderful artist to do our artwork (for the show).  I found his artwork online, his name is JJ Lendl, and he does some amazing artwork.   So we recently got our artwork for the show, and I’m just so excited about it.  So that’s really how it’s taken off, and we’re gonna do Discovery season 3, the Picard show, and hopefully (the proposed) Section 31 (series) if we’re still moving forward.  

Q:  You’ve got a lot of material to work with.


AE:  We do.  And seven years of DS9, seven years of Voyager, seven years of TNG.  You gotta find a way to speed it up a little, I think. 

Cosplaying fans participate in photo ops during the Star Trek Las Vegas convention. These are the kinds of people who are profiled on the 7th Rule podcast.

Q: You mentioned interviewing fans for the show—

AE:  Yes! 

Q:  What have you learned from Star Trek fandom by doing these interviews? 

AE:  That Star Trek is family.  You know, we have so much ideology that we connect with Star Trek.  We have IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), pursuing your dreams, reaching into yourself and growing more and finding the better parts of yourself to progress and move forward.  But in talking to the fans, and in us doing the show, the theme we constantly find and come back to is family.  This is one big giant family that continues to grow, and grow, and grow, and that’s one of the most beautiful things of Star Trek. 

Q:  Speaking of fandom, you’ve mentioned that you worked on the 1988 Sean Penn film “Colors”…

AE:  Yeah.

Q:  … and that you got to meet Sean Penn.  I have to ask; during your time on Deep Space Nine, or any other project, were there any actors that made you geek out a little bit?

AE:  Patrick Stewart.  Well, there’s two, there’s Patrick Stewart and there’s Alice Krige (the Borg queen from “Star Trek: First Contact”).  I have a big crush on Alice Krige, because she is just such a wonderful woman… she is such a wonderful woman, and a phenomenal actress.   But the one that probably took me by surprise was Patrick Stewart, because I was doing ADR (additional dialogue recording) for the Star Trek: Voyager (episode) that I did (“Initiations”), and at that time he was dating Wendy Neuss, who was in charge of ADR for that production.  So when I walked in to do my ADR, who steps up from the couch?  Patrick Stewart!   And I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh!  There’s the royalty right there!”  And he goes, “You do wonderful work. You are a wonderful actor” and I was just like, “Awwww…”   So I was like, “Thank you…thank you very much!”   I was deeply touched and honored by his compliment and the opportunity to meet him, and I haven’t met him since.  I would love to see him again, shake his hand, and have a photo with him, because I didn’t get a photo with him when I was doing that ADR for Voyager. 

Meeting Patrick Stewart while working as a guest star on “Star Trek: Voyager” was one of Aron’s ‘geek-out’ moments.

Q: Do you have any thoughts or opinions about appearing as “Captain Nog” in any of the forthcoming Star Trek series, such as “Picard”, the animated series “The Lower Decks” or even “Star Trek: Discovery”, perhaps even in a role other than Nog? 

AE:  Well, of course.  Every actor wants to work.  Every actor would love to have a phone call that says ‘we’d like to have you come on our show.’  Every actor, as you’ve seen online, is “Bring back fill-in-the-blank.”  That’s how we pay the bills, Sebastian.  We try to pay the bills that way. There’s actually many other ways that we pay the bills that I can’t disclose on your (site).   

Q: (laughs)

AE: So, to be honest, I would love to play Nog again and here’s why; I’ve enjoyed telling the stories of Nog through DS9 so much that I would really love to continue to tell that story. 

An injured Nog loses his leg in Season 7’s “The Siege of AR-558.”

The truth is, I don’t want to see him come back as a captain.  I want to come back and see the journey to captain.  Because one of the best things of Nog was watching him him fall and get back up.  “Valiant” was a great story.   “(It’s Only A) Paper Moon” was a great story.   Watching him learn how to become a man, a Ferengi adult in Starfleet, is a wonderful journey.  Learning how he deals with discrimination towards him in Starfleet would be a wonderful story to tell.  How he rises above, how he unites, how he stumbles in doing that.   Those are the great stories that made DS9 so wonderful because it shows how we rise above conflict.  That’s what I would really love to do.

Aron (far right) reunites with the cast and crew of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” during a screening of the crowdsourced documentary “What We Left Behind” (2019). The documentary is a must-see for any fans of this remarkable series.

Q: Last May I had the privilege of seeing the crowdfunded Ira Steven Behr/David Zappone DS9 documentary “What We Left Behind” (2019) theatrically.   How would you describe your experience of seeing the full documentary with an audience at the TCL (formerly Mann’s) Chinese Theatre in Hollywood for the first time?

AE:  Ah, you know what?  Levi Tinker is the general manager of the Chinese Theatre and that guy is awesome!  He contacted me, and asked if we wanted to do that, and I was like, “Yeah!” How fun was that to go there and chat with all the fans that were there, enjoy the documentary with them, and Levi put that all together.  I wish we would do more things like that.  It’s really enjoyable to have connections outside of the convention, and in the same vein.  So that was really great to do that.   And you know, I did it again, but did it through Skype with a group of fans who went to watch the documentary in the UK.   And they didn’t expect it, they didn’t see it coming.  Sean Mooney set that up, and that was a joy.  Now we’ve got Rod Roddenberry (son of that late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) supporting this group called Sansar that’s doing virtual reality mini-conventions, or that’s one aspect of it, connecting the fans around the world in a virtual reality world where I can come in as Aron Eisenberg, and they give me an avatar.  They don’t have a Nog avatar ready yet, but how cool would that be to go in virtual reality, as a Nog avatar, and chat with other fans around the world who can’t make it to a convention?  So that’s a lot of fun, any time we get to do things like that.    

“Rom” (Max Grodenchik) and “Nog” (Eisenberg) as they appear in Star Trek Online’s “Victory Is Life” expansion pack.

On Star Trek Online (the online videogame), one of the greatest things I did was when I did my first voiceover, they did a livestream.  So I was playing the game.  (Star Trek Online player) “One Job Phil” let me down.  I died.  But he’s a very famous individual at this point.   All he had to do was keep me alive in the game, and I died amongst millions of players!  Millions, Sebastian!

Q:  (laughs)

AE: One Job Phil humiliated me, because I have excellent gaming skills. 

Q:  I have the gaming skills of an infant, so yeah…

AE:  Actually, I don’t have good gaming skills with Star Trek Online yet, I have to admit.  I will get them someday.  Someday!   But that was another way to connect with fans, through gaming.  That was a lot of fun, and they were on the livestream asking all kinds of questions, and it’s fun to connect with the fans in different ways like that.   And there are many ways we can do that.  So hopefully some of these companies are making that happen, and they will make me a producer so I can pay my bills.  

That was just a joke, everybody…well, kind of

(laughs)

A former petty thief who, through the power of Jake Sisko’s trust and friendship, rises up to help save a quadrant of the galaxy in Deep Space Nine. Aron believes there is a powerful lesson to be learned through Star Trek’s embracing of diversity and multiculturalism.

Q: What aspects of Star Trek’s world would you like to see brought into ours?

AE:  I’ll be honest, it is going to sound glib, but IDIC.  Number one.   This fear of others that don’t look like us, think like us, act like us…it really has to start being minimized.  Especially as I’m watching DS9 now (for the 7th Rule) and I see how Jake Sisko taught his father (Commander Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks) that yes, we can get along with a species called Ferengi, and I’ll show you how.  Because Jake Sisko did that, (Ben) Sisko was able to save the world with Nog, because of Nog.  If Jake Sisko didn’t teach his father that, that one little story, we wouldn’t have saved the world, we wouldn’t have saved the quadrant.   And it’s such a small part of the DS9 story, but it’s such an important part.   And that is truly what Star Trek teaches.  So how people miss that, I will never understand.   And how we get away from that, or how we feel like we are (getting away from that), is probably the scariest thing to me in our society.  And it’s not just centralized in America.  We’re seeing it globally.   It’s this fear, this border fear, this fear of the melding of cultures is really what’s hurting us more than anything. 

So while we can talk about all the technology of Star Trek…although (the late) Stephen Hawking would argue that if we don’t get off this rock we’re gonna kill ourselves, so you could argue survival has to come first, right?  But (it won’t happen) if we don’t solve the problem of multiculturalism, and that’s what I want to see.  This fear of globalism, this isolationism has to end.  We need to have more open arms, and find common ground, rather than put up walls.  I thought we did that when the Berlin Wall came down. I thought we started to realize that then.  So that’s what I think needs to happen first (before) getting off the rock, because if we don’t solve that now, getting off the rock is going to be isolated to the elite… and it can’t be that way.  I mean, you could even go religious with Noah’s Ark.  Let’s all go together.  The parable of that, the story of that, we’re all on this rock together.   So we’ve got to figure out how to get along and accept each other for our differences. 

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Fans of “Deep Space Nine” can check out “What We Left Behind” (2019), which is now available for sale on a Blu-Ray/DVD combination release.

Full episodes of The 7th Rule are available via Podtail (https://podtail.com/en/podcast/the-7th-rule/ ) and shorter segments are also available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeOkK1-VmHA0k6bxVz0KQ8Q). You can subscribe to “The 7th Rule” on Podtail, or watch segments on their YouTube channel. Donations can be made via the “7th Rule” Patreon account.


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