A Family Enterprise

updated 07/15/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/15/1996 01:00AM

FROM THEIR BRUSQUE EXCHANGES on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, you'd never know that cast-mates Nana Visitor and Alexander Siddig are, in fact, deeply in love. Visitor, 38, plays Maj. Kira Nerys, feisty first officer of the 24th-century space station. Siddig, 30, is DS9's kindly chief medical officer, Dr. Julian Bashir. Though the characters have grown to admire each over the syndicated series' four seasons, romance isn't in the stars for them. "Bashir would bore the daylights out of Major Kira," says Siddig, a Sudanese-born Brit—Sudanese father, British mother—whose uncle is actor Malcolm McDowell, "and she'd intimidate the s-t out of him."

Life, fortunately, can be stranger than science fiction. And, in this case, it bears some resemblance to the plot of 1989's When Harry Met Sally.... When Sid (as his friends call him) met Nana in 1992 while rehearsing DS9's pilot episode, they soon became pals. But neither had the slightest inkling that they would someday be lovers—"Completely unexpected," says Visitor. "Completely! Believe me!"—much less expecting a son this fall.

For one thing, there was the small matter of their involvement with other people. When Visitor's three-year marriage to dancer-TV actor Nick Miscusi, 36, disintegrated two years ago, Siddig commiserated with both spouses and even let Miscusi crash at his apartment for a few weeks. (Visitor shares custody of their son Buster, now 4, since their divorce became final in 1994.) A few months later, Siddig broke off a brief engagement to an actress he chooses not to identify. "She was a lovely girl," says Visitor. "I tried to get them back together. It didn't happen." She pauses, then laughs. "Thank God!"

Even as singles, she and Siddig remained just good friends. Visitor remembers telling Siddig that she'd "figured out how to be by myself without a man." She even added, "I'm not looking." But Siddig was looking—longingly—at Visitor, though he worried about ruining their working relationship "by blabbering about how much I fancied her." And while Visitor admired Siddig's intelligence and sensitivity, she kept wondering, she says, "Who can I fix him up with?"

That question came close to being answered one evening last September, when she and Siddig (who, on a whim, had just Europeanized his name from Siddig El Fadil) finally discussed going out on a real date. But, Visitor says, smiling, "we both decided that would be the most insane thing to do, and that we'd call each other when the show's finished."

A month later, while organizing the cast's Christmas party, it was destiny that did the calling. "We kissed and said, 'Okay, we'll date; we'll have a relationship,' " says Visitor with a glance toward Siddig. "And, what was it, two weeks later you moved in?"

"Yeah," says Siddig, beaming.

The news hit some of the other cast members like a jolt from a ray gun. "When Sid first told me, my whole brain went into gridlock," says Andy Robinson, one of Siddig's closest friends, who plays Garak, the enigmatic Cardassian, on the show. "But then I could see how absolutely complementary they are to each other. Nana's discipline and focus are balanced by Sid's free-flowing imagination." Marriage seems to be in the cards. "It will obviously happen," says Siddig. "But we really don't know when."

"They seem unbelievably happy together," says co-executive producer Ira Behr, who decided to have Visitor's pregnancy written into the show. Last season, Kira agreed to become a surrogate mother after a pregnant crewmate, injured in an accident, was unable to carry her baby to term. Dr. Bashir, of course, will be the attending physician.

And the attentive dad. "I think we both knew we wanted a baby and wanted one with each other," says Visitor. "That's the thing about falling in love with a friend. You know what kind of father he'll be. Both my sons are very lucky."

MICHAEL A. LIPTON
LEAH FELDON-MITCHELL in Los Angeles

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