Terry Farrell almost lost her role on DS9
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, like all other Star Trek series, had a wealth of confusing and technical dialogue that made viewers really get a feel for the science fiction aspect of the show. Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Brent Spiner (Lt. Cmdr. Data) call the language “Piller Filler” after Michael Piller, who was TNG’s showrunner. The verbiage (also called technobabble) was difficult to learn and to remember which is what caused some problems for Terry Farrell who was cast as science officer and Trill, Jadzia Dax for DS9.
Farrell was excited about playing the same role Leonard Nimoy played as Mr. Spock on Star Trek: The Original Series, but she admitted that she had a really bad time with knowing her lines. [The Fifty-Year Mission The Next 25 Years by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross pp.455-456] She lost sleep because she was so nervous about knowing her lines, and not getting enough sleep only compounded the problem.
DS9 producers were thinking of letting Terry Farrell go
Farrell was nervous about losing her job and knew the producers were thinking of letting her go. Before taking that drastic step, they hired an acting coach for Farrell who, she admits, did a lot to help with her self-esteem.
"“…that’s a scary place to be when you think you’re going to get fired because they don’t think you’re good at what you do.”"
But the coach told Farrell that her biggest problem was just that she needed someone to run lines with. The only issue with that was the lines changed a lot. So while the coach was able to help Farrell in one way, in another, it was simply a case of Farrell having to figure it out on her own. One of the ways she did that was by a conversation with the science consultant, Andre Bormanis.
A chance meeting with Bormanis enabled Farrell to tell him that if she was in a scene by herself, the technobabble wasn’t an issue, but if she was in the scene with another person, she had to think about what her character was thinking and feeling in that moment.
"“I have to think about what my character is thinking and feeling in this scene. I have to play up the other actors and how they’re playing their characters. In that context, it’s very hard for me to, like, remember terms in my dialogue that mean absolutely nothing to me.”"
Farrell told Bormanis that the less he could do in those situations, the better it would be for her, and he told her that was a really good note and wished someone had told him that when he’d started. And so Farrell kept her job on DS9 until she left at the end of season six.