Since Star Trek Deep Space Nine first aired on our TV screens back in 1993, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether Avery Brooks who played the leading role as Benjamin Sisko is a good actor or not.
‘The Sisko’, as The Prophets in the series were rather fond of calling him, has certainly had a few well-known roles in his acting career. His Wiki page, notes that he played the character Hawk in Spenser for Hire, which then led to a short spin-off series called Hawk. I’m not sure why it was short-lived as I’ve never seen it, but if it’s anything like Joey in Friends spin-off attempt, Joey, it might possibly be because it was crap.
Regardless of your opinion, Brooks has also done a fair bit of stage work too and he’s also a professor of acting type stuff at some University somewhere.
Avery, please stop singing!
Brooks has a reasonable singing voice and apparently, music was a big influence in his early life too. He plays instruments and tickles the ivories on his piano quite a lot. However, not everyone likes his singing and many find him really, really annoying.
Anyway, back to DS9
A user on Reddit posed the question about Sisko’s acting somewhere around 2012. He/she asked:
I’ve never seen this mentioned when people talk about DS9, but I’m finding Sisko to be an extremely wooden character with poor acting…. Does this get better over time or should I try to get used to it?
A good question indeed. Whilst there are only 10 comments and the thread is now closed, there was some speculation that when non-beardy Sisko grew a beard, his acting suddenly started to improve. Much like when Samson had all his hair chopped off and lost his strength.
It seems that the facial hair growth imbued him with magical powers that improved his acting ability.
Another Reddit commenter notes:
The third season of DS9 is also the first season produced after Star Trek: TNG ended, and a lot of the writers and directors from TNG started working on DS9. The whole show improved as a result.
This could indeed be true but when all is said and done, I always like to refer back to that famous quote by Plato back in 10,000 BC.
Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one”.
Disclaimer:- Plato may or may not have said that, and may or may not have lived around 10,000 BC
23 thoughts on “Is Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko) a good or bad actor?”
He is the reason that DS9 is my least favorite Star Trek series
I liked him from the beginning because he’s different. But, there was zero spark between him and his girlfriend.
When DS9 originally aired, Sisko was the main reason I couldn’t watch the show. I stuck with it through some of season 3 but eventually stopped. Which is funny because he gets slightly better after season 3. Although I am not sure that is true. He got less wooden and more erratic and bombastic. Does that qualify as better?
I recently re-watched TNG and am now in season 5 of DS9. It occurred to me recently that I THINK I can see through the “bad acting” at what Sisko’s character is supposed to be, and I do like the character, but the acting is still awful. My wife is watching it with me and she can’t stand him either. I am enjoying it more now though because 1) I knew what to expect and 2) I am able to laugh at it a little bit. It also helps that they seem to be limiting his screen time since somewhere in season 4.
Opinions are opinions but I strongly believe watching Avery Brooks ‘acting’ in DS9 has damaged my brain. Watching him ‘act’ is like watching a glitch in the Matrix on infinite loop. You know there’s something really, really wrong, but your brain can’t quite figure out what. I have been watching DS9 and other Star Trek shows due to the lockdown and am determined to finish the series, but have found that the only way I can watch DS9 scenes with Avery Brooks (without grinding my teeth) is to change the audio to French with English subtitles. The weird thing is there are moments when he actually acts without enunciating each. and. every. word. as. if. they. were. followed. by. a. full. stop. or. two. exclamation!! points!!
Wow, you have captured my sentiments perfectly. I could not watch DS9 during its original run because I could not abide Avery Brooks “acting”. He didn’t speak or move like a natural person. Almost everything seem wooden, contrived, robotic, etc. Because I am a big fan of Star Trek, and several friends I respect say that DS9 is their favorite Star Trek, I have begun watching it, trying to ignore the acting of the Brooks and focusing on the character per se.
I’m deep into season 2, and am enjoying the series, but Brooks’s acting is still a distraction. So, I went in search of commentary on it, in case my reaction to Brooks was off base. I found your post, which, as I say above, captures perfectly my reaction. This will help me continue to watch by ignoring Brooks’s acting style. Many thanks.
I’m just thankful I can burst ahead 10 seconds at a time instead of having to subject myself to his total ridiculousness. And my heart goes out to all of you that had to endure Avery Brooks when DS9 originally aired on television!
I found Avery Brooks to be a good actor and portrayed Sisko very well. The Character grew over time and Avery got better and better. He felt natural and real. I connected with Sisko instantly. Honestly, the whole cast was fantastic for their roles.
Avery Brooks is absolutely appalling. I recently started watching DS9 for the first time since its original run when I was much younger. He is blatantly terrible from the outset, there ruins absolutely every scene he is. He is wooden and stilted, laden down with false gravitas, and almost incapable of delivering a line like a normal human being. The writers have tried a few things to get around this, namely leaning more on the supporting cast and limiting Sisko’s input to bombastic actions and monologues. This allows them to minimise his alienating interactions with the other characters whilst letting him occasionally shift into his second gear, which is manic outbursts of overemotion. I was advised to watch ‘Far Beyond the Stars’ for an example of his excellent acting and I could not stop laughing. He is chewing the scenery, practically frothing at the mouth, whilst every thought about what to do and say next is etched into his every expression. An utterly appalling actor with almost no redeeming features and probably a significant factor in why DS9 performed poorly alongside and following TNG.
Avery Brooks is just a bad actor (never knows how to portion his emotional interaction) and his portrayals of Ben Sisko in many ways are erratic, unnatural and often over manic. Compared to the acting of Patrick Steward as Picard or Mulgrew as Janeway, Sisko is the least likeable captain (maybe only beaten by captain Archer of the ENT series). His acting is getting better after season 5 when he shaved his head and grew a beard but still, overacting in certain situations is his biggest problem. Also, I don’t like all the Benjamin Sisko Episodes. In the episode “In the pale moonlight” comparing the character Garak portrait by Andrew Robinson, Robinsons acting put the Brooks in his place. A mere second grade acting student.
I’m just now starting to watch Deep Space 9 for the first time. I can say without hesitation that Avery Brooks is a horrific actor. His wooden style and seeming confusion over what the character should be feeling is making it difficult for me to enjoy the show so far. Hopefully he will get better. I am still on season 1.
His performance/acting is really awful. Like other have said, the way he delivers his lines is unnatural, weird unnatural rhythms, weird unnatural pauses. He does in every situation on DS9.
I had a really difficult time getting into the series from the beginning because I was so frustrated each time Avery Brooks spoke as his line readings were just so unbelievable.
I really don’t know why it has to be mentioned that he’s done a “fair bit of stage work”. He’s one of the most awful actors ever. Just because someone let him on stage or the fact that he even may have been good in some plays doesn’t change that fact that he was an awful Sisco. I don’t know what that thing is where he takes breaths in between sentences, which makes everything really weird. The worst thing is, that he portaits Sisko as a horrible charactor.
I think his wooden acting has something to do with his stage work…not acting but erecting stage sets more like.
I’m now watching DS9(I’m in season 5) on Netflix and find Avery Brooks barely watchable. No human acts like that. Sisko just doesn’t feel natural at all. From the poor line delivery to the awkward body motions to the strange changes in emotion. NONE of it works. The other characters on the show are well portrayed by their actors but Sisko was not done justice. On a few rare occasions I’ve see Brooks relaxed and sincere in his portrayal but he’s mostly all over the place. He really detracts from an otherwise decent series.
Agreed. He is just awkward in scenes .I was like is it just me or is this guy a horrible actor. Quark and a few other characters kept me watching the series.
DS9 would have been so much better with another actor playing Sisko. He was surrounded by great actors who played Odo, Bashir, O’Brien, Quark….Avery Brooks is painful to watch…
I loved Sisco, esp the way his character grew, I think it was a combination ,they finally let him play the part the way he wanted, the writing got better as time went on, I assume they wrote him to be a tougher Capt coming out of the loss of wife and half the federation, and into a mix of crew that wasn’t yet a team or used to taking orders. I loved the last few seasons the best. And I luv Vic Fontaine and Sisco singing!
Yeah, he’s awful. I’ve read several desperate defenses of Brooks’ DS9 acting on old Reddit threads — “It’s just the personality of the character he’s playing,” and “He just uses a different, more formal acting style,” etc… it’s all nonsense. The stiff delivery, the arrogance, all of this would be totally fine in Sisko’s *character* if Brooks could pull it off, but he can’t. He doesn’t let go and relax into the character, he fights it the whole time, not feeling it, overacting in a blustery, amateur way and often seeming confused as to what’s needed in the scene. Just watch the master Jeffrey Combs play uptight, arrogant Weyoun (or uptight, arrogant Shran from Enterprise) to see how it’s done right.
Wow, speaking of display of arrogance, as you go on to discuss this rather subjective topic by rejecting other people’s opinions out of hand with no attempt at refutation… oh, their opinions? I mean “desperate defenses of” and then presenting your own subjective opinions as if they’re facts.
You know how you know if your argument is bad? If it can be flipped 180 degrees and right back in your face. For example..
I’ve seen PLENTY of desperate arguments of why Brooks isn’t a good actor, but its all nonsense, the fact that Avery Brooks can deliver his lines in such profound poignant way with strong confidence, is amazing.
And no, thats not my argument, I happen to think Avery Brooks is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen? Why? Because like you, its just like my opinion, man.
I disagree dearest “Neelix” — Stuart’s assessment of the utter arrogance of Avery Brooks is, in part, why I think most of us have found our way to this very topic/thread. Perhaps it is our way of coping with the horrors that lie in wait around every corner (and scene) of DS9’s Sisko!
If it is indeed poignancy and aestheticism that you do find in the “acting” of Avery Brooks — then, perhaps our collective majority of “subjective” thoughts here addressing his poor acting will inspire you to deepen your understanding of just what else is out there (and exceptional).
The whole cast could act better than him at whatever point throughout. He was enough to put me off watching the first time round but now I see it again I actually enjoy it despite him. In our house we say it’s 6 o’clock and time for sisco to gasp again. Weyoun and Quark have to be the best characters because they’re acted well by people who understand their characters.
Odo and Sisko being mad all the time, grumbling constantly is the distinct low point of the series so far for me (starting season 4). I’m overwhelmed by their normally shitty attitude and for me the reading of Sisko’s lines by Avery Brooks is atrocious. The cadence is all f-d up and I can’t image why anyone would ever, at any point in space time, would think it is O.K. to talk like that. I mean WTF
Avery should really be dubbed over because his performance is just so god damn weird. It’s like the dude is mentally ill. Either the volume is erratic, or the rhythm is twacked, or he’s mad… booty all around.
There’s no doubt that the reason I hated DS9 originally was the terrible Sisco character. Badly portrayed by Brookes , Sisco bullied threatened and other members of DS9 as well as exuding an air of extreme arrogance and sarcasm towards everyone. Permanentlyvangrey provoked a war and constantly disappearing into dream sequences. All in all a horrible odious character made worse by Brookes inability to make the Sisco both likeable and credible.