Marina Sirtis, Part 2: From Convention Queen To Evil Queen
By StarTrek.com Staff - December 01, 2011
Today, in part two of our exclusive interview with Marina Sirtis, the beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation actress talks more about her Trek experiences, spanning from TNG and the TNG films to guest shots on Voyager and Enterprise. She also shares her enthusiasm for her latest project, co-starring with Neil Patrick Harris in a theater production of A Snow White Christmas, which is a panto-style take on Snow White. Don't worry, Sirtis explains what a panto is.
You mentioned that you and LeVar Burton saw footage from the upcoming TNG Blu-ray. What was it like to see yourself… from 25 years ago?
Sirtis: I have a picture on my wall of all of us. It’s the actual photo that Entertainment Weekly had on their cover, and it’s on the wall in my living room. It reminds me of my best friends. And, you know what? I think we all look exactly the same. All the boys have less hair. Michael Dorn is much thinner now than he ever was before. Patrick (Stewart), I think, looks the same. And people always come up to me and said, “You haven’t changed a bit.” They’re lying through their teeth, of course, because 25 years later, that’s not possible. But I think we all still look pretty good. So it’s not too disheartening to watch myself in the early episodes.
We know that you wanted to keep going with the series. So, in what ways did the TNG films fill the void for you?
Sirtis: Oh, I’ve never gotten over the end of the show. To this day, if I go to Paramount for a meeting or an audition, I always have to walk past our stages. And I get sad. I was on the lot earlier this year and NCIS: Los Angeles are on our old stages now. I took a peek in, and it is kind of weird. The show was such a big part of our lives for so long. From the beginning of the show to the end of the movies was 15 years. That’s a long time. I miss seeing my friends every day. I miss knowing where I’m going to be 10 months out of the year. To me, that was one of the greatest things as an actor, to know I’d be working 10 months out of the year. So when people say to me, “What is your dream job?” I always say, “Another series.” I love television. Brent Spiner and I always say that when we’re not on TV, we’re watching TV. TV is the dream job and Star Trek was the pinnacle of my dream job, and another series would be equally wonderful.
What did you think of the four TNG films?
Sirtis: I liked them all, but I liked a couple better than the others. I think if you ask any of the cast, they’ll all say that First Contact was their favorite movie. The last one, it was a shame that we went out not as happily as we had wanted to, but it was situations beyond our control as actors. It didn’t hurt us as friends or as a group, but it was just sad that we didn’t go out as laughing as much as we had before.
You were on Voyager a few times…
Sirtis: And that was like going home again because they inherited our crew. It was like, “Hi, everybody. How are you?” I was happy to see them and they were happy to see me. I got to work with Dwight (Schultz) again, after working with him so many times on TNG. I got to work with Bob Picardo, who I see a lot at the conventions. And he’s great. We were just at a convention a couple of weeks ago. I love him, love his wife, love his kids. So it was fun to do Voyager. The only bad thing is, of course, you have to make sure your spacesuit still fits. I was determined that they weren’t going to have to make me a new one, that I’d fit into the old one. So there was a little dieting involved. Other than that, it was all good.
You turned up as Deanna in the Enterprise finale. Just the mention of that episode gets some people riled up. Your thoughts on the episode, the reaction to it?
Sirtis: I don’t know what the reaction to the episode was because I didn’t see the episode. I don’t watch myself, generally. I watch soccer and reruns of Law & Order and English shows on PBS and a few other things. But, at the time we did Enterprise, Jonathan Frakes and I realized that some of the cast were a little miffed that we were there, which I understand. It kind of wasn’t an Enterprise episode. They were holograms and Johnny and I were real. So it was like a TNG episode they were in. And I totally got that they were miffed that it wasn’t a two-hour episode. Giving them their due, the cast were great to us. We knew a lot of them. We were friends with a lot of them. They never let their displeasure get in the way. They welcomed us. The irony, to me, is that the very last scene shot was Jonathan and I walking off the holodeck. Jonathan and I were in the very first scene of TNG when we started shooting and then, however many years later, we were in the very final scene shot of Enterprise. So, in that way, for us, it was kind of a fitting finale.
You and Majel Barrett-Roddenberry were very close. Did you get a chance to say goodbye before she passed away?
Sirtis: You know what? I saw her not long before she passed. It was really hard for me because I’d lost my own mother a couple of years before Majel passed. I remember having a cup of coffee with Majel and saying to her, “You know, you’ve got to last a little longer because you’re the only mom I’ve got left now.” Unfortunately, she didn’t last too much longer than my own mother. So it was devastating. I really miss Majel. She was just a force of nature. She really was, and the world is a smaller place without her.
There’s a push by some fans to have you assume the voice of the ship’s computer in the next Star Trek movie…
Sirtis: A couple of my fans made that suggestion to me and I’ve kind of taken it up because I think it’s such a good idea. One of them said, “Now that Majel has passed away, you should be the voice of the computer and keep it in the family.” I thought, “What a brilliant idea that is.” First of all, the fans would be beside themselves happy. It would be so huge for them. Star Trek is not just about the next new movie, it’s about the history. And I think it would just be fab if we could talk J.J. (Abrams) into letting me do that. I think the fans would be happy. I would be deliriously honored to take her place. We’ll just see how it goes. I’ve put it out there. That’s all I can do. It’s up to the powers that be now.
You’re currently acting in A Snow White Christmas at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood, which is running now through December 18. How are you enjoying adding some playful menace to the show as The Evil Queen, and also doing the show as a panto?
Sirtis: You know what? I am SO thrilled. Pantos don’t exist in America. Chris Lythgoe, who is Nigel Lythgoe’s son, is producing it and he wrote it, too. And, of course, they’re English. It’s something that is so part of our DNA in England, Christmastime pantos. When I’m in England at Christmas, I go and see them, and I’m no kid. Lots of grown-ups go to see them because they’re just so much fun. The last time I did a panto was 30 years ago, and I was Snow White. I’m the Evil Queen now, so it’s come full circle. I’m just waiting to do Hamlet again, because that was my first professional job. Obviously I’m too old to play Ophelia now, so I’m hoping that someone will offer me Gertrude and I can do the same thing with Hamlet, which is my favorite Shakespeare.
Actually, for the Americans reading this who have no idea what a panto is, how would you explain the differences between a panto and a typical stage play?
Sirtis: First of all, they’re usually based on a fairy story, pantos, something like Snow White or Cinderella or Babes in the Woods or Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s always a very, very, very well-known story. And they’re re-written every year because they include topical jokes. I’m sure we’re going to have some Kardashian jokes in there. I’m playing Queen Sue Sylvester. It’s all very topical to what’s happening at the moment. The songs are usually modern pop to which they’ve re-written the words in order to make them funny or make them fit the story. And there’s also a lot of audience participation, which is something that we’re going to have to teach the Americans how to do, because Americans don’t usually do that. You’re usually told to be quiet in a theater. So it’s, “Where’s Snow White, kids?” and everyone yells, “She’s behind you!” “Oh, no, she isn’t.” “Oh, yes, she is!” It’s a lot of fun, and one of the main things that the actors try to do is to make the other actors laugh on stage.
Aside from A Snow White Christmas, what else have you been working on lately?
Sirtis: I haven’t done any films or shows in the past few months. It was a really quiet summer. I had to find a new place to live, and that took up most of my summer. And then my brother came over with his family for a few weeks, so I had them. So I really haven’t been able to do much. But now everyone is gone and Michael and I are moved into our new place and I can start thinking about work again. So I’m waiting to see what might be coming up, really, and I’m ready to starting going after it.
To learn more about Marina Sirtis, visit her official site by clicking HERE. For details about A Snow White Christmas, in which she co-stars with Neil Patrick Harris, click HERE. And to read part one of our interview with Sirtis, click HERE.
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