Marina Sirtis is best known for playing Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Image: supplied
This is a good time to be a Star Trek fan. Several series are being made at warp speed.
There’s Strange New Worlds focusing on Pike and Spock, the animated Lower Decks and Prodigy, which sees the return of Kate Mulgrew playing Captain (or perhaps Admiral) Janeway, and a couple of still under wraps live action shows joining the continuing voyages of Discovery and Picard.
It was the Patrick Stewart-helmed show that set most fans’ hearts to stunned, as it reunited The Next Generation’s captain with some of his crew.
One of the guest stars was Marina Sirtis, Picard’s faithful counsellor Deanna Troi. Speaking to The Big Issue about the show, the 66-year-old British-born actress said about the episode she appeared in:
“It actually turned out to be the most popular episode of the season. That was a lovely feather in mine and Jonathan [Frakes]’s cap.
“Our fans have long memories, and they’ll still tune in to watch us, God bless them.”
When asked what Star Trek spin-off show she would like to see, she gave an answer that many fans would get behind.
“I think personally, it should be a Worf show,” she said. “First of all, he’s a really popular character. And it’s never been done before – to have it about the Klingon Empire instead of the Federation with the Klingons as like, recurring.
“Have it be about the Klingon Empire and how they deal with stuff,” she continued. “I think it would be great. And although I would hardly be in it – I think I might be in it because Michael Dorn’s my best friend – I wouldn’t mind because I think it would be a really good idea.”
Michael Dorn who played Worf has appeared in more episodes of Star Trek than any other actor, as well as five films.
“Obviously, it doesn’t matter how old he is underneath all that make-up,” Sirtis added. “For the rest of us, our age is going to show because we have faces, right? But with Michael, he’s got that turtle head on. He could be 100 years old under that, we’d never know.”
Marina Sirtis was talking to The Big Issue about moving back to England earlier this year, and much more besides. Take a read…
The Big Issue: We last spoke a couple of years ago after Star Trek: Picard was announced. Did you lie to me when you said you didn’t know if you were going to be in it?
Marina Sirtis: I did. I lied to you. And I lied to Graham Norton live on the radio. I lied my ass off, I absolutely did!
The best thing about Picard was seeing some friends reunited.
We started filming in 1987 and it’s 2021. Now I’ve moved to England, they all call me all the time. Before the pandemic we hung out.
Roddenberry cast us. He was really good at casting. As an actor, I truly believe if you get the casting right, 90 per cent of your work is done.
The chemistry was there from day one. They hate it when actors get along because they talk, which means that the studio can’t lie to them. Things like: “They told me I’m getting the same money as you, am I? No. Ok, call the agent.”
Most casts don’t talk about money. But we did. Even if we weren’t sure the exact number, we had a ballpark and we could work accordingly.
How many years did it take for your pay to catch up?
Oh, did I ever catch up with the boys? No. Never caught up with the boys. I’m so impressed with so many of younger actresses coming along now, they’re just not taking it.
You have always been outspoken about your politics…
I’m never going to stop being political. I’ve only been back three months so I’m not sure where to go. I still get the occasional email from the Labour Party. I think we’re Lib Dems where I am. Once Patrick [Stewart]’s back in England, he’s very involved, I’ll latch on to him and get involved too.
I get a lot of hate. I just found out there’s some religious group trying to get me fired from Star Trek. And I’m like, I’m not in it anymore! If you actually think I care about what total strangers think of me, then you’re demented. The people that I love, love me back. And that’s all that matters.
Last time we spoke in 2019 you said that Star Trek fans and Republicans cannot be the same people, which caused some controversy online.
Yeah, well they do co-exist but it doesn’t make sense. They obviously aren’t watching the same show that everyone else is watching. And they are the reason I’ve come home actually, I can’t be in that country anymore.
January 6 did it for me. When we had an insurrection in Washington, a bunch of lunatics trying to overturn the election. I was worried that there was going to be a civil war. And his supporters have guns.
If you have a heart and a soul and if you care about humanity, you can’t live in America. It’s become this place of hatred and vileness where you could tell someone to put their mask on and they’ll spit in your face. Where they’re beating up Chinese people because Trump called it the China virus. He ripped the plaster off and all the evil has come pouring out.
Trump is gone though, so what is left behind?
He’s not gone, because he’s living in their hearts. I just had enough after 35 years. Why am I here and miserable and scared? You know, my husband, God rest him, used to sleep with a loaded gun by the side of the bed. That’s no way to live.
And you lived in California…
America changed so much in the 35 years that I was there. When I went, I literally thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was brilliant. And then this right-wing, fascistic mentality started taking over.
Career opportunities are better for a middle-aged woman in England, and that is another reason why I came back. But the main reason I came back was because I just can’t live in a country full of racists anymore, I just can’t.
I lived in a state of anger and fury all the time
It would be wrong to say that these problems don’t exist here in the UK too. How can we stop divisions becoming wider and more extreme?
I wish I knew the answer to that. At my husband’s funeral [Sirtis’ husband Michael Lamper died late in 2019], one of his friends is a born again Christian. A very nice guy, very good man. But I said to him, “Look, I know this isn’t the time or the place, but you’re the only born again Christian I know. And I have to ask you: how do you people who call themselves Christians give Trump a pass on all the shit that he does?” He started to waffle. And then I realised the Christians – I hate that they call themselves that because it kind of hijacked the word Christian – they’re one issue voters. Abortion. That’s all they care about. They would vote for the devil himself if he was going to overturn Roe v. Wade.
You know what? I’m 66 years old. I fought these battles in the country of my birth. And we won a lot of them. I don’t want to have to do it again. I’m worn out. Abortion and women’s rights and gay rights – we did it. Why are we having to have these fights again?
I tell you what, my blood pressure’s gone down by about 20 points [after returning to the UK]. Literally, I lived in a state of anger and fury all the time.
Did you manage to bring your dogs with you?
I have two and they had the trip from hell. The company I hired, which is one of the best companies in the world for transporting animals, missed the flight. I got them three days late. One of my dogs is now blind in one eye. The vet said that was due to blunt force trauma of some kind. He also lost a tooth trying to eat his way out of the crate.
My other dog was so stressed he licked through to the bone on two of his paws. And they’d broken his tail. They must have shut it in the crate door. A couple of weeks later the tip of his tail, about two inches of it, fell off.
It was a nightmare. I mean, I lost my husband and this was worse. So if anyone’s thinking of transporting their animals in a plane across the Atlantic, don’t do it. Get on the get on a ship where you can have them with you.
That sounds awful. But besides the rain, what are you looking forward to about life back in Britain?
I have noticed that TV is a real women’s medium in the UK. Most of the producers are women. A lot of the directors are women. A lot of the writers are women. And they write for women and not just 25-year-old blondes.
I love the soaps, I watch EastEnders and Corrie, always have. Although I don’t have anything right now, I know something will come up that I will be very excited to do.
Finally, given a lot of what you’ve said about the state of the world, do you think the human race will actually make it to the 24th century when TNG was set?
I am encouraged in as much as I think young people are much more aware. They know what’s going on and they they’re not taking it. Look at Greta Thunberg. I know she’s only one person but what she did was so powerful that grown men are hurling abuse at her in Congress. Because she scares them so much. Because of what she represents.
She’s not alone. So that gives me hope that we will be around in the 24th century.