Interview: ‘Star Trek: TNG’s Marina Sirtis Talks Next Generation, The Orville & DC’s Titans!
The third interview we have for you from our weekend at ‘Destination Star Trek‘ comes from Marina Sirtis, better known as Deanna Troi in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’.
British actress Marina Sirtis starred as the Enterprise’s half-Betazoid, half-Human counsellor on ‘Star Trek: TNG’ and the TNG movies. Since leaving the bridge, she’s popped up in shows such as ‘NCIS’, ‘Scandal’, and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. Additionally, she has voiced characters on ‘The Cleveland Show’, ‘Young Justice’ and ‘Adventure Time’. Marina has also got some interesting new roles coming up as you will read in the interview!
Geektown: Lovely to meet you. So first of all, how are you enjoying the Con so far. Not that I expect to see much of it.
Marina: I do this Con a lot, so it’s one of my favourites. But I just get to come home so…
Geektown: Well yes true! Do you wish there were things that they could have done with the character on the show that they never found time to do?
Marina: A lot of that was my fault… Because I would always say to the writers “What does she do, what’s her hobby, what…” you know, ask questions, and they’d say “Well, what do you want to do?” And I would say, “Well I’m an actress, you’re a writer, think of something!” And of course, that wasn’t the right thing to do. So everything is a learning experience. I just assumed… I mean in England no one ever asked me what I wanted to do, they just said this is what you’re going to do. So I wasn’t used to that. That American way. So consequently there was a lot of things, we literally didn’t know anything about her past. Apart from that she had a mother.
So the people who did come up with stuff, like Brent [Spiner] and Gates [McFadden] and Bob Picardo on ‘Voyager’. The writers actually like it because they’re writing for seven characters and a bunch of guest stars every week. And it just makes their life easier if you come up with something. So my next series I’ll know better. Let’s put it that way. I just wished that I had been a little in tune to the way it worked in America.
Geektown: In terms of her backstories and motivations and that sort of stuff, there was something that I think Jonathan [Frakes] had said, that you played the characters as though they had always been secretly lovers?
Marina: We played that there was a relationship, whether it ended up on the cutting room floor or not. A lot of times, obviously it did end up on the cutting room floor, but it turns out we were right to keep it going. Because, you know, as we ended up getting married in the last movie. So we were determined that we were going to maintain some kind of relationship between the two of us throughout the series.
Geektown: Makes sense. And in terms of the character’s evolution, did you find the writers would start writing more about how you’re playing the character as an actor as the show went on and they got to know you more?
Marina: No because I’m nothing like the character… At all. People say to me, “What do you have in common?” I’m like we’re the same height.
Geektown: [Laughter] Right!
Marina: That’s it. I’m 180 degrees away from Deanna Troi. So I don’t think it had anything to do with me. I’m not sure. You would have to ask the writers really. I think, basically, they just got a better angle on the character. Because when we started they had no clue what to do with me. And so they go, “Oh, we’ll write her out. We don’t know what to do with her. Write her our the episode.” And that was a little depressing. But then – especially once I got an office and I was officially a Psychologist, and not just sat on the bridge, you know, saying, “Captain he’s hiding something,” – I think they just got a better handle on the character. Had nothing to do with me as a person, at all. In fact, make sure she’s nothing like Marina.
Geektown: Of all the characters, was there anyone that you wish you had more time with?
Marina: Whoopi Goldberg.
Geektown: Well yes, everybody wants more time with Whoopi Goldberg, good answer.
Marina: I couldn’t because basically, she was me, but not professionally.
Geektown: Yeah, never thought of that, but it’s true!
Marina: She was me behind the bar. She was the barmaid who listened to your troubles. Well, excuse me, that’s my job! [laughs] And so consequently, because we both have the same job, we didn’t get to interact that much. I wanted to work with Whoopi more and never really got to work with her.
Geektown: It’s a shame because I think the two of you would…
Marina: Well we got on great, as people. Yeah, it would have been great, but nope it was not to be.
Geektown: Have you seen Discovery?
Marina: I’ve seen the first episode, and now that I’m in England and can watch it on Netflix, I will catch the rest.
Geektown: Yes, you get charged extra for that in the US on CBS All Access… But if you enjoyed the first one, you’ll enjoy the rest.
Marina: Yeah I think they are doing a great job. And Jason’s a mate so. Yeah.
Geektown: Didn’t you use virtual assistance things like mobile phones, Alexa and voice activation?
Marina: No I don’t do any of that stuff. I don’t trust it. I don’t have an iPad, I have a phone. I have a laptop and a phone. And I don’t travel with my laptop because I can do everything I need to do on my phone. And I refuse to watch anything on a laptop when I’ve got a 52-inch television screen at home! Right, I’m very old, I’m a total Luddite… Which is, I know, bizarre because I was on Star Trek, but no I don’t. Those Alexa and things, I don’t trust them. I don’t. It’s like artificial intelligence in your home. I’m one of those people who believes that robots are gonna kill one day. It’s gonna be like, it’s gonna be Battlestar Galactica and the Cylons are gonna take over the world [laughs].
Geektown: Are you going to show up on The Orville as some point?
Marina: I am.
Geektown: You are? Awesome.
Marina: I am, this second season.
Geektown: Brilliant, can you elaborate…
Marina: No, I can’t… I’m not allowed to say what part I’m playing, but I am allowed to say that I’m on it.
Geektown: Brilliant, okay, I am very much looking forward to that. I loved, loved the first season.
Marina: Yeah, it’s great. Jonathan [Frakes] was directing. And apparently they had auditioned a bunch of actresses for the role that I played, and they didn’t really like any of them, and Johnny and Seth [MacFarlane] were sitting together, and Seth said, “Well isn’t there, you know, one of our group?” And Jonathan said, “Well what about Marina?” And Seth said, “Well I was kind of saving her for something better.” And Jonathan said, “Oh don’t be ridiculous, just give her this part!” [laughs] And the next day I was on The Orville!
Geektown: That will be very cool. If you could do a crossover with Next Generation and one of the other Star Trek shows, have you got a preference of which one you would like to do it with? One that you haven’t already crossed over with.
Marina: No. [Laughs] You know why? I was on the flagship show. So it’s all downhill from there isn’t it, really. And I know I’ve pissed off a lot of Star Trek fans now by saying that, but the truth hurts.
Geektown: Did you have a favourite or least favourite episode to work on?
Marina: Well there were a couple of least favourites in the first season. One was totally sexist, which was Angel One, and one was totally racist, which was Code of Honour. They were horrendous, I mean we literally would stand on the set going, “Are we really doing this?” They just couldn’t see. And I always say to people, “Yes we were doing a better show about the 24th century, but it was written by 20th century men. They were quite as advanced as we wanted them to be.
Geektown: It’s surprising, but you get those odd missteps.
Marina: And Gene [Roddenberry], god bless him, was a bit stuck in the sixties. That was his era and that’s where he felt comfortable, and of course we know what the sixties were like.
Geektown: Right. Couple of final questions. After The Orville, anything else coming up?
Marina: Yeah I have another show coming out, which is a show called, ‘Titans’ that I’m on.
Geektown: Wait… ‘Titans’ as in the DC show?
Geektown: Ooh… Can you say any more about what you’re doing on it?
Geektown: [Laughs] Thought not. Oh well… that will be brilliant though!
Marina: It will be! And then going up to Bridlington to do panto at Christmas. Jack and the Beanstalk!
Geektown: Awesome! And last question. If you have the opportunity to work on any T.V. show, past, present, or future, other than what you’ve been on, which would it be?
Marina: ‘Absolutely Fabulous’! That was probably my favourite show ever. I think Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French are just geniuses, both of them. And I would love to work with Jennifer Saunders, and of course, the wonderful, timeless Joanna Lumley. To me that was a perfect TV show.