In 1986 Marina Sirtis, best
known to Star Trek fans around the world as Counselor
Deanna Troi in Star Trek:The Next Generation, left her
native England and went to the United States. She had reached a
crossroads in her professional career as well as in her personal
life and felt that it was time for a change.
I was in a
relationship which didnt work out and I just needed to put
as much distance between me and the other person as possible,
recalls Sirtis. As far as acting goes, I felt as if Id
hit a plateau in England in that with my looks the way they are I
knew that I was never going to be cast as an English rose in films
or on television. In the theatre I played everything, but when it
came to working in front of a camera I looked too ethnic, so I was
always cast as the mistress or the girlfriend or the secretary."
It was towards the end of
the 1987 television pilot season when Sirtis auditioned for a role
in Gene Roddenberrys new Star Trek series The
Next Generation. She originally read for the part of Macha
Hernandez, a 26 year old Latina who served aboard the USS
Enterprise as its chief of security. Roddenberry eventually
decided, though, that Sirtiss dark looks would be better
suited for Counselor Troi, so she was given that role while Denise
Crosby was cast as Tasha Yar, the former Macha Hernandez.
Both parts had their
appeal for me, explains the actress. To be honest, I
felt that I was more right for Tasha Yar because Ive always
played much stronger in-your-face types of women. Actually, they
told me that they switched Denise and me around because they
sensed an empathy in me that the character of Deanna Troi needed."
In the two-hour Next
Generation pilot Encounter at Farpoint Trois
powers are more psychic in nature and allow her to read minds. It
put Sirtis in the uncomfortable position of having to deliver some
overly dramatic dialogue. Even today she still cringes when
thinking about the episode.
I had been in the
States for around only seven months when we began filming the
pilot. When I came over here I wanted to learn more about the
American method of acting because all of my favourite actors are
heavy-duty method actors. So I went to this class and tried to
grasp this in the time I had before we began shooting. What Id
done, literally, was the Dummies approach to method
"I took what I
thought Id learned and tried to apply it in the pilot and it
was horrible, laughs Sirtis. I remember watching the
episode through my fingers because I had my hands over my face. I
was amazed that I still had my job by the end of it... "