interview star trek tng  
Marina Sirtis|: Ship's Soul The wonderful Marina Sirtis talks us through her career, joining the Star Trek family, and her Trek love life!
excerpt from TV Zone #114

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 didn’t 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 I’d 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."

Joining the Crew

It was towards the end of the 1987 television pilot season when Sirtis auditioned for a role in Gene Roddenberry’s 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 Sirtis’s 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 I’ve 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 Troi’s 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 I’d done, literally, was the ‘Dummies’ approach to method acting.

"I took what I thought I’d 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... "

More in TV Zone #114

Steven Eramo
  TV Zone footer