Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Cirroc Lofton talks “The Visitor”
Cirroc Lofton is still deeply touched by the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fourth season episode “The Visitor.” The episode, which is widely considered one of the best in all of Star Trek, deals with a son’s loss of his father and his ongoing struggle to bring him back.
“The Visitor” was directed by David Livingston and written by Michael Taylor, who also wrote another DS9 touchstone “In the Pale Moonlight.”
Lofton, who played a young Jake Sisko on the third live-action Star Trek series, recalled the episode on the latest episode of his 7th Rule podcast, saying “This one was a tough one to watch for me,” noting that it’s “such a great story,” and how he cried reading the script for the first time. The episode features an older Jake Sisko (Tony Todd) as he’s visited by aspiring writer Melanie (Rachel Robinson) and reveals his life story and how it’s been overtaken by his obsession to bring his father, Benjamin Sisko, permanently back, after disappearing in a subspace accident.
“Tony Todd deserves his credit for this one because he really knocks this one out of the park.” He recalled how Todd would spend time with him on set and observe him from a distance to try to pick up some of his mannerisms.
Lofton, who was 18 years old at the time of filming, revealed that the initial idea for the episode was for him to play the older version of Jake Sisko, through age makeup and prosthetics. Saying it was finally decided to cast Tony Todd in the role.
Lofton notes that while he saw the episode from Jake’s perspective as a child on the series, he’s now able to see it from the father’s point-of-view, now that he has children of his own. “The other thing that moved me was when Jake started showing his dad his books and saying ‘Look, dad,’ and [Ben] Sisko says ‘I’m proud of what you’ve accomplished.’ That was just another great moment for me… as a father looking at his son grown-up.”
“As a parent we’ve all had the moments where we’re looking at our sleeping child… and there’s a moment where you’re just watching somebody sleep and it’s like you’re observing their face and thinking about them and wishing what they’re going to be in life… and I felt that same kind of curiosity when Sisko was looking at Jake. I felt there was so much in that.” said Lofton of the scene where Benjamin watches an elderly version of his son sleeping.
Lofton later went on to discuss how his interpretation of the episode changed over time, saying “I thought this [episode] was about Sisko dying for Jake… but in the end, it becomes about Jake dying in front of Sisko.”
Premiering in October of 1995, it’s been a quarter century and “The Visitor” still resonates with so many of us today, as it did back then. Lofton talked about how it still brings out emotion in him to this day.
“All these years later, you know what’s going to happen. You know what it’s about. I’ve read the script. It’s been 25 years but yet still I’m dripping tears watching this episode. I can’t make myself not feel these emotions. You feel the loss. You feel the emptiness. You feel the regret. You feel all of those emotions and then you reflect on your own life and the people that you love and what it means to have them in your life or lose them. If you have any feelings at all, they will be activated by watching this episode.”
Lofton was joined by his co-host Ryan Husk and Malissa Longo (the widow of Deep Space Nine’s Aron Eisenberg) on this episode of The 7th Rule, which you can watch embedded below or subscribe to on your podcast app of choice.
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