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…

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bio

Marina Sirtis (born 29 March 1955) is an English-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.

Biography

Marina Sirtis was born in the East End of London, the daughter of working class Greek parents Despina, a tailor’s assistant, and John Sirtis. She was brought up in Harringay, North London and emigrated to the U.S. in 1986, later becoming a naturalised U.S. citizen. She auditioned for drama school against her parents’ wishes, ultimately being accepted to theGuildhall School of Music and Drama. She is married to rock guitarist Michael Lamper (21 June 1992 – present). Her younger brother, Steve, played football in Greece and played forColumbia University in the early 1980s. Marina herself is an avowed supporter of Tottenham Hotspur F.C.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

In 1987 Sirtis relocated to the US.

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 role on The Next Generation. Sirtis’s character was going to be named Lt. Macha Hernandez, the Security Chief. Gene Roddenberry decided to switch them, and Macha Hernandez became Natasha Yar. Sirtis recalls that on the day she received a call offering her the role of Deanna Troi, she was actually packing to return to Britain, because her six-month visa had expired.

Deanna Troi was a half-human, half-Betazoid. Her Betazoid abilities allowed her to read the emotions of others. Her position on the Enterprise-D was ship’s counselor, looking after the crew’s well-being and a trusted advisor to Captain Picard with a position seated next to him on the bridge.

Initially, the writers found it difficult to write for Troi and even left her out of four of the first season episodes. Sirtis felt her job was in jeopardy after the first season but was overjoyed when Gene Roddenberry took her aside at Jonathan Frakes’s wedding and told her that the season two premiere episode, “The Child”, would center 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 tougher Starfleet officer. She has stated her favourite episode is season six’s “Face of the Enemy”, in which Troi 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 her on-again/off-again lover Commander Riker), Michael Dorn (Lieutenant Worf, also an on-screen love interest) and Brent Spiner(who played Lieutenant Commander Data). Cast members Spiner and Dorn were groomsmen at her wedding.

She usually wore hair-pieces for her role as Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation. 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 Hebrew) for her character, although her natural accent is English. Over time, the accent was adjusted and became more Americanised.

Sirtis has also reprised her character of Deanna Troi in the feature films, Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002). She also appeared in Star Trek: Voyager for three episodes toward the end of the series (1999 and 2000) and also in the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise (2005).

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.”