Marina Sirtis is a British-American actress. She is best known for her role as Counselor Deanna Troi on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the four feature films that followed, as well as other appearances in the Star Trek franchise. In 1986, Sirtis relocated to the United States. When casting Star Trek: The Next Generation, Gene Roddenberry was inspired to ask the exotic-looking Sirtis to audition for a role after seeing the film Aliens with Bob Justman, which featured the prominent Latina character Vasquez, played by Jenette Goldstein. Sirtis and Denise Crosby initially tried out for each other’s eventual roles on The Next Generation. Sirtis’ character was going to be named Lt. Macha Hernandez, the Security Chief. Gene Roddenberry decided to switch them, and Macha Hernandez became Tasha Yar. Sirtis recalls that on the day she received the call offering her the role, she was actually packing to return to Britain, because her six-month visa had expired.
Deanna Troi is a half-human, half-Betazoid. Her Betazoid abilities allow her to read the emotions of others. Her position on the Enterprise-D is ship’s counselor, looking after the crew’s well-being and serving as trusted advisor to Captain Picard, with a position next to him on the bridge. Initially, the writers found it difficult to write for Troi and even left her out of four first-season episodes. Sirtis felt her job was in jeopardy after the first season, but was overjoyed when Roddenberry took her aside at Jonathan Frakes’ wedding and told her that the season-two premiere episode would centre on Troi.
Sirtis appeared in all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and her character was developed from a more passive therapist to a tougher Starfleet officer. She has stated her favourite episode is season six’s “Face of the Enemy”, in which she is kidnapped and surgically altered to pose as a Romulan. Troi’s switching to a standard Starfleet uniform in the same season in “Chain of Command” elevated the character’s dignity in Sirtis’ eyes, and her enthusiasm in playing her, with Sirtis commenting, “It covered up my cleavage and, consequently, I got all my brains back, because when you have a cleavage you can’t have brains in Hollywood. So I got all my brains back and I was allowed to do things that I hadn’t been allowed to do for five or six years. I went on away teams, I was in charge of staff, I had my pips back, I had phasers, I had all the equipment again, and it was fabulous. I was absolutely thrilled.”
During her time on the show, she became close friends with her co-stars Jonathan Frakes (who played Commander Riker), Michael Dorn (Lieutenant Worf) and Brent Spiner (who played Lieutenant Commander Data). The latter cast members were groomsmen at her wedding.
She wore black-coloured contact lenses during the seven-year run of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the subsequent films because her character had black eyes. Her own eyes are light brown.
She usually wore hairpieces for her role as Troi. Sirtis’ real hair was slightly shorter, and although curly, was not as bouffant as her character’s. However, Sirtis’ real hair was used in the pilot episode, and also in the first six episodes of season six, in which Troi sported a more natural looking pony-tailed style. She was also asked to create an accent (described as a mixture of Eastern European and Israeli) for her character, although her natural accent is Cockney. Over time, the accent was adjusted and became more Americanized.
Sirtis has reprised her character in the feature films, Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek First Contact (1996), Star Trek Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek Nemesis (2002).
Sirtis was delighted to get the chance to do some comedy in Star Trek: First Contact and said, “I loved it because it opened the door to a different side of Troi we’d never seen before. That door has stayed open and that whole kind of wacky, zany Troi thing has continued into the next movie, which is great for me because I like to do things that are different.” Sirtis stated of her role in Star Trek: Nemesis, “I sort of had an inkling that I was going to have a good part in this film because John Logan was such a big fan of the character. So I knew that he would do her some justice. This will be Marina Sirtis’ debut appearance at Tampa Bay Comic Convention!