Star Trek: Nemesis--Marina Sirtis

Star Trek: Nemesis--Marina Sirtis

The phenomenal success of Star Trek: The Next Generation has made Marina Sirtis into a bona fide icon. Through seven series on television and now four feature films, Sirtis's character Counsellor Troi has been the emotional centre of the Starship Enterprise. contributor Danny Graydon speaks to Sirtis about the reality of the Enterprise's final voyage, taking Troi in to darker realms and why she'll never live down crashing the galaxy's most famous starship. The posters for Nemesis seem to indicate this is the final curtain for The Next Generation, but some of the cast think it will carry on…

Marina Sirtis: I don't know what's going on there. I have always thought that this was going to be the last one. I can't imagine it will be the last Star Trek film. I have just always had that feeling that it was going to be the last Next Generation film. Maybe in the future they will mix various casts… but, all seven of us? There's a reason I have been crying so much! So, you feel sad at the prospect of not playing Troi any more?

Sirtis: Yes, absolutely. More than ever, I feel that I am not going to wear that spacesuit again. Do you feel you have taken the character as far as it can go?

Sirtis: No, I don't think so. That's like saying that nothing new will ever happen in your life. It's the same for a character. If you have good writers, they will usually come up with something. It would be very sad to feel that. Troi has a very bittersweet time in Nemesis. She finally gets married but also undergoes one of the darkest events in Trek history, when she gets "psychically raped"…

Sirtis: Well, that assault sequence was kind of posited as a joke--me with a 23-year-old, nudge-nudge!--although, obviously, rape is hardly a joke. When we actually filmed it, it turned out to be one of the hardest days that I ever had as an actor. To make it as scary as it needed to be, we had to do it for real. Tom had to be really quite violent. I thought, this is never going to end up on screen! Obviously, they cut away all the really nasty bits, and what's left is kind of suitable for consumption. Does Nemesis provide a good ending for this Enterprise crew?

Sirtis: It does. Apart from two things I really hate! I think the fact that Data dies should have been a bigger secret and of course, the fact that I am the dutiful wife to Riker's captain, meaning I am permanently off the Enterprise. Mind you, I always joke that we got rid of Michael Dorn, who plays Worf, years ago, and that whenever we make another film, he just happens to be passing. Patrick Stewart indicated that this film could in fact be an effective prologue to another ending.

Sirtis: It could, yes, it could. I met one reporter in New York who said he was told to focus on the word "Begins" and not "Final". Maybe Patrick knows more than I do. If the fans want to see another Next Gen movie, then it's really up to them. They have to buy the tickets. If it doesn't make a lot of money, then you know it's over. Otherwise, Paramount won't think twice. I'd be happy to do it. We have made the best film we can make and so, now, it's entirely up to the fans. A role like this, in a prominent and popular series, must come with a lot of baggage?

Sirtis: You can't really think about that on a day-to-day basis. It's something of a perk, really. When I go and do a convention, and there's 5000 fans waiting to see you, you feel like a Beatle. Unlike someone like Patrick, who is so recognisable, as long as I don't speak, I don't usually get recognised. People, you see, expect a lot of hair and I have always worn wigs on Trek. It's fortunate that you never had to have the extensive make up.

Sirtis: Well, you say that, but in fact my make-up took longer than Michael Dorn, who plays Worf. I have never figured that out. I lead a pretty normal life and am in the fortunate position of being recognised when I want to be. You mentioned conventions. So you are happy to indulge fandom?

Sirtis: I get as much out of them as the fans do, if not more. Having come from the theatre, being on a TV show for seven years I always missed a live audience. I would go off at weekends, just to perform in front of a live audience. A convention audience just loves you. I started doing conventions quite early and Brent Spiner didn't and I remember coming in to work one day and he was always very interested to see what it was like. I said, "Brent, if you have a problem with being adored for two days then don't go!" I developed a stand-up comedy routine, because you are always asked the same questions. So, I developed answers that were funny. Star Trek fans are very passionate, knowing every minute detail. Do you feel under pressure because you just don't know it the way they are inclined to?

Sirtis: No, never. I always say that I am not a technical person. I have never had to do that techno-babble stuff, unless I happened to be possessed by some entity. When we had Wil Wheaton on the show, the resident genius character, I used to say, "ask him". Now, I just say, "ask Levar Burton", as he's now the resident genius character. I used to tell a story from Generations, where I crashed the Enterprise, and I say that I reached for the "steering-wheel thing" and dozens of fans scream "The Helm! The Helm!" Have you had problems with excessive fans?

Sirtis: I have never felt in danger or that my space is being invaded. Star Trek fans are very respectful. Of course, occasionally, there's one who's a little over-keen, but what happens with them, if it's a girl, they usually burst in to tears, or a guy, they start hyperventilating. I have never felt I needed a bodyguard or anything like that. Because you are so identified with Troi, do you now deliberately go for vastly different roles?

Sirtis: Well, I am telling my agent that I don't want to wear any spacesuits for a while. Only because I really think I would be shooting myself in the foot, if I did. If a really great part came along, and it happens to be SF, then I would of course reconsider. If it was just work, then I wouldn't. Last year, I did Casualty here in the UK, which was great. I went to Marks and Sparks and bought a suit to play this Labour MP! It was really fun.Casualty happened because I was visiting and I just happened to be here. The main thing I want to do here is work at The National Theatre. That's my dream. I don't know how that can happen. I'm sure Patrick Stewart knows a few people…

Sirtis: Yeah. You'd think he'd put a word in, wouldn't you?? After all these years… Who's the better kisser: Jonathan Frakes or Michael Dorn?

Sirtis: Oh, I can't answer that. Michael Dorn is my best friend, so it's easier to kiss Jonathan. Dorny and I talk to each other every day, so when we had to kiss, we couldn't even rehearse it. How close are you with the other cast members?

Sirtis: We're too close! When you are in a work situation and the director runs to the producer and complains that we're being to unruly--as Stuart Baird did--it can get dicey. We're not undisciplined, and Stuart realised that after a while. But we are close, and that happened immediately, all those years ago--it was a happy accident. People come to the set, 15 years on, and they are gobsmacked at how much fun we are having. We laughed for seven years. There was one time in the first season, where a director who came in for a couple of episodes refused to work with us again and Rick Berman called us all in to the set of Tasha Yar's quarters and gave us a telling off. Are you very proud of your part in Star Trek's vast legacy?

Sirtis: There is not one single regret. Well, maybe perhaps the costume I wore in the very first episode! Apart from that, there has been no downside. It has only brought good things in to my life. I think, considering what my life was like before I got this job, to think anything different would be the height of ingratitude. Still, you are the woman who crashed the Enterprise.

Sirtis: Yeah, yeah, I know. That planet came out of nowhere, alright!