Marina Sirtis is one of the most recognizable personalities from the Star Trek universe. Her iconic role as Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation will always be remembered by the legions of fans who grew up with that series. Here, Marina Sirtis speaks about Star Trek: The Next Generation and her wider career in this ComiConverse exclusive.
Star Trek The Next Generation: 5 Questions With Marina Sirtis
ComiConverse: Can we start at the beginning?
You were originally a stage actor with some experience in British television as well. When you were offered the part of Deanna Troi for Star Trek: The Next Generation (STNG), your U.S. work Visa was on the verge of expiring. Can you remember the feeling you had at the time?
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Did you have any idea of the experience you were signing up for?
Marina Sirtis: I got cast on a Wednesday afternoon and my Visa ran out the next day. It was terrifying! I had to leave the country to renew my Visa, so I was convinced that none of this would work out and I would be heading back to London. Obviously, it did work out and therein followed the best seven years of my life. All I knew when I signed my contract was that I would be working for at least a year on TV and that would be the longest job I’d had in my career to date.
The next six years and four movies we’re really just extra gravy.
ComiConverse: Your character went through quite a lot of growth over the course of the series. Today, there are shows like Game of Thrones with numerous strong women in featured roles; however, it was surely more rare to see in the 1980’s. What are your thoughts looking back?
Marina Sirtis: Of course when you’re in it, you really don’t see it from the outside, but when I meet my fans, especially the women, I am truly stunned how many say that I was a role model for them. Seeing a strong and feminine woman in a position of authority, a respected member of the crew and the Captain’s confidante made them believe that they could achieve their dreams and aspirations too. Also, something seemingly unimportant, Troi’s curly hair, was very impactful on girls who had never seen it on TV before.
ComiConverse: This may be an odd one, but at what point did you recognize that you were going to become such an incredible part of popular culture?
Certainly, the Star Trek fan community was already large when STNG started, but surely no one could have guessed it would be as successful as it was. I mean, there are Deanna Troi action figures around, complete with her favourite drink from 10-Forward.
Marina Sirtis: Of course, we had no idea what lay beyond the actual job. I was the first one of my cast to attend conventions on a regular basis and I watched with astonishment as my crowds grew from less than 100 sometimes, to 6000. It does make me feel a little uncomfortable when I am described as an icon. I think Star Trek is the icon and I was just very lucky to be a part of it. As to the action figure, it looks like we are related but that’s about as far as the likeness goes… LOL!
ComiConverse: After STNG you were able to get into some impressive voice acting with shows like Gargoyles, which also starred an uncanny number of Star Trek alumni. Can you talk a little about that transition and your experiences with that project?
It was a hugely popular series.
Marina Sirtis: I haven’t done a lot of voice acting, but I did land a good one when I was cast as Demona in Gargoyles. It was a wonderful experience because we did every episode like a radio play with as many of the cast we could get in one room. I have to be honest sitting alone in a sound booth with headphones on, speaking into a mic isn’t my favorite kind of acting. I do like to react to another person.
ComiConverse: For any young actors or actresses listening, ones who may still be waiting for their own big break, what would you say were the biggest lessons you came away with from your years on the STNG set?
Marina Sirtis: I was told no at every turn. By parents, teachers and acquaintances. I came from a very blue-collar environment and no one had ever become an actor. There was nothing else that I could imagine myself doing and so I just didn’t take no for an answer. It’s in my nature to be a fighter, so I suggest that if you can imagine yourself doing something different then that’s what you should do, because if you can’t take a steady diet of rejection as your daily fare then you really shouldn’t put yourself in that position. However, if it’s act or die then you have to go for it and never give up, because you’re only one role away from everything you ever wished for.
ComiConverse: Thanks for your time, Marina. We appreciate it.