Marina Sirtis is best known for playing Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but she’s also done work outside of that franchise, contributing small yet memorable roles to several Cannon films, including The Wicked Lady and Death Wish 3, and doing voice-over work for the classic 90s cartoon Gargoyles. Ms. Sirtis is a very busy woman, but she was gracious enough to answer some e-mail questions I had for her. Let’s do a quick Flashback with Marina Sirtis.
Johnny: Growing up in England, which of the great British actors and actresses were your biggest influences?
Marina: Ian McKellen is my all time favourite. I saw him in Richard II when I was 16 and it changed my life.
Johnny: Your first theatrical film credit was as Jackson’s Girl in “The Wicked Lady”, one of a few films you would do for Cannon. When you read the script and saw what happened to your character, were you nervous or thinking of turning it down before you filmed it?
Marina: Actually my first film was the remake of The Thief of Baghdad with Peter Ustinov. Any time one has to be naked in a movie, one has to consider it carefully but the chance of working with Faye Dunaway, Alan Bates and Sir John Gielgud made the decision much easier.
Johnny: You worked with Michael Winner again as Maria in “Death Wish 3”. Would you regard the late Mr. Winner as a good director or a bad one?
Marina: When it comes to Michael Winner, I plead the 5th. As Forrest Gump said “that’s all I have to say about that.”
Johnny: It was said that Scotty, the late James Doohan’s character on the original Star Trek, inspired many young people towards careers in engineering. Have any fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation said that Counselor Troi inspired them towards psychology or similar fields?
Marina: It blows my mind that I should inspire anyone to do anything but I am told all the time that people became psychologists or therapists because of Deanna Troi.
Johnny: What, respectively, were your most and least favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation?
Marina: My least favourite episode was Code of Honor (for reasons that should be patently obvious). I have many favourites but I especially enjoyed Measure Of A Man.
Johnny: After ST: TNG ended, you and many of your fellow cast members joined the voice-over cast of Gargoyles. Was that a coincidence, or did the producers of the show intentionally request all of you to join the show?
Marina: Jonathan and I auditioned and were cast in Gargoyles. I’m pretty sure Greg Weisman was a TNG fan because that kind of started a trend. Sometimes the sessions were like a Star Trek reunion.
Johnny: Probably the most serious TV cartoon Disney ever did, what was the most memorable part of working on Gargoyles?
Marina: I jokingly say that we only went for as long as we did because no one at Disney watched the show. When they finally did, they pulled it!
Johnny: You played Shereen in the Best Picture Oscar winner Crash. As an international performer who has spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, how accurate would you say is the movie’s take on how people in L.A relate to each other?
Marina: I think that one of the reasons that Crash got the accolades it did was because it was such an accurate description of life in Los Angeles. It was also incredibly insightful about human relationships and the way we respond to each other.
Johnny: You’ve done voice-over work in several games, including some based on ST: TNG and a role as Matriarch Benezia in Mass Effect. Do you play video and computer games yourself?
Marina: The only video game I’ve ever played is Tetris, but I’m really good at it!!!
Johnny: The stars of the assorted Star Trek series and movies tend to have mixed feelings about the show’s fans. When you think of fans of ST: TNG, what thoughts come immediately to mind?
Marina: What anybody in showbiz has to remember is that we don’t become successful in a vacuum. It’s the public’s loyalty that elevates us. They turn on their TVs, buy movie tickets, download music. Anyone who doesn’t respect their fans should, in my opinion, re-think their values.
Johnny: Several of your fellow ST: TNG cast members did some singing on the show, and in Gates McFadden’s case, dancing. Have you ever been offered a role that allowed you the opportunity to sing and dance?
Marina: I’ve appeared as Magenta in The Rocky Horror Show and Mary in Godspell.
Johnny: On a similar tack, what are your most and least favorite parts of the convention scene?
Marina: I enjoy the whole convention experience but my favourite part is the Q and A.
Johnny: What would you say has been the biggest change in the entertainment industry between the 1970s and 2015?
Marina: Science Fiction went from being “alternative” entertainment to being mainstream, to the point that it’s number one at the box office now. I’d like to think that the success of TNG had something to do with that.
Johnny: What five directors that you haven’t worked with yet would you most like to collaborate with?
Marina: Martin Scorcese, Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, David O. Russell and Ang Lee.
Johnny: What advice would you give to people who are looking to be in the entertainment industry?
Marina: If you’re making a pitch, never say “this has never been done before”.
I would like to thank Marina Sirtis for answering my questions and Zack Teperman for helping to set the whole thing up. Coming soon, an interview with Oscar-winning sound man Michael Minkler and an interview with horror icon Belinda Balaski. Stay tuned, the Flashbacks are still coming.