Star Trek makeups: ‘Iliana Ghemor’

DS9: ‘Iliana Ghemor’

When Benjamin Sisko arrives to take command of Deep Space Nine he meets Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) his reluctant First Officer and Bajoran Liaison Officer. Their relationship starts with mutual suspicion but Kira soon becomes one of his strongest supporters and at the end of the series takes over from him as Commanding Officer. In accordance with Bajoran custom her family name comes before her given name: hence she is called Major Kira but is Nerys to her friends.

Kira had been a long-term member of the Bajoran resistance and having helped to free Bajor from Cardassian domination is deeply suspicious of the Federation’s intentions (‘It's good when friends come to visit and good when they leave’, as the Arab saying goes).

In the episode ‘Second Skin’, set in 2371, as part of a typically dastardly and elaborate plot by the Cardassian Obsidian Order, Kira is kidnapped and surgically altered to be Cardassian (supposedly being Iliana Ghemor an undercover agent for the Obsidian Order and the daughter of Tekeny Ghemor).

The makeup

Michael Westmore was the makeup designer.

Camille Calvet was Nana’s regular makeup artist and also applied her Cardassian makeup: she discussed it in one interview:

We have those as generic pieces, all our Cardassians, we’ve got like, we have two female heads now, we’ve got like four male heads, and different sized shoulders, and this way, it’s actually ingenious of Michael Westmore, instead of having to sculpt you know for every one we use , we just can mix and match, we have different chins, it's actually a nine piece makeup she was wearing, so hers was just the generic head, that I think was originally sculpted for Mary Crosby [as Natima] … I did her makeup as well. Mary had the blue eyes and Nana has the brown which made it look very exotic I thought. But yeah they wore the same head, it’s just that I painted them and shaded them differently. And yeah like I said the other day, she didn’t dislike it, it’s just very, very trying, she was very professional though in it. I mean because she was claustrophobic, and she was in it the first day I believe nineteen or twenty hours, and then with a nine-hour turn around … it was a tiring time but she was very professional and got through it.

Nana Visitor did not enjoy the experience as she explained in an interview on the Season Three DVD. Indeed she had such difficulty with the makeup that in the later episode ‘Meridian’ which required Kira to appear to have Quarks head a body-double had to be used:

For twenty hours, I was a Cardassian. And I don’t usually do this – I’m easy to work with – but I’d actually start saying to the director ‘Okay, that's your last take.’ And he’d say ‘No, I have a few more takes yet’ and I’d say ‘No! That's your last take!’ and start pulling the makeup off. It gets to you, because you can’t breathe right, and it’s very hot.