Marina Sirtis at Phoenix Comicon, 2012
|Born||(1955-03-29) March 29, 1955
|Alma mater||Guildhall School of Music and Drama|
|Known for||Star Trek: The Next Generation|
|Spouse(s)||Michael Lamper (1992–present)|
Marina Sirtis (/ˈsɜrtɪs/; 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, as well as other appearances in the Star Trek franchise.
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 the late 1980s, later becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. She auditioned for drama school against her parents’ wishes, ultimately being accepted to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Sirtis started her career as a member of the repertory company at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing, West Sussex, in 1976. Directed by Nic Young, she appeared in Joe Orton‘s What the Butler Saw and as Ophelia in Hamlet.
Before her role in Star Trek, Sirtis was featured in supporting roles in several films. In the 1983 Faye Dunaway film The Wicked Lady, she engaged in a whip fight with Dunaway. In the Charles Bronson sequel Death Wish 3, Sirtis’s character is a rape victim. In the film Blind Date, she appears as a prostitute who is murdered by a madman.
Other early works include numerous guest starring roles on British television series. Sirtis appeared in Raffles (1977), Hazell (1978), Minder (1979), the Jim Davidson sitcom Up the Elephant and Round the Castle (1985) and The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1986) among other things. She also played the stewardess in the famous 1979 Cinzano Bianco television commercial starring Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins, in which Collins was splattered with drink.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
In 1987 Sirtis relocated to the USA. 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’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 the 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 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 a 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 Israeli) 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.”
While filming Star Trek: The Next Generation, Sirtis returned to the UK during the hiatus between seasons three and four in 1990 to film a drama special entitled One Last Chance for the BBC. In 1992, she appeared in an episode of the short lived series The Fifth Corner and had a cameo in the horror/fantasy movie Waxwork II: Lost in Time. After the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1994, Sirtis continued to work regularly. Her first role was a departure from previous work, an abused wife in the series Heaven Help Us.
She provided the voice of Demona in the Disney animated television series, Gargoyles, for two seasons starting in 1994. Her Next Generation co-stars, Frakes (as the voice of David Xanatos), Spiner, and Dorn, also lent their voices to the show. She voiced the character again for an episode of the unmade animated series, Team Atlantis.
In 1996, Sirtis starred as a villainous police detective in the British made-for-television movie, Gadgetman. She guest-starred as a race track owner under investigation following the death of a driver in Diagnosis: Murder in 1998. The independent movie Paradise Lost, with Sirtis in a starring role, was released in 1999.
Beginning in 1999, Sirtis returned to science fiction television in a number of roles starting with The Outer Limits. The same year, she appeared in Earth: Final Conflict, originally created by Gene Roddenberry. In 2000 she played a Russian scientist in Stargate SG-1. Sirtis was interviewed in the October 2000 issue of SFX magazine in the UK; the cover stated “Marina Sirtis is Everywhere”, also referring to her reprisal of her character Deanna Troi on Star Trek: Voyager.
In 2001, Sirtis made a highly publicized appearance on the long-running British hospital drama Casualty. She played a politician with controversial views on the NHS. When she meets with a man she is having an affair with at a hotel, she is caught in an explosion. She appeared in the made-for-television movies Terminal Error in 2002 and Net Games in 2003. Also in 2003, she guest-starred in the ABC series Threat Matrix playing a biological-weapons scientist from Iraq.
Sirtis had a minor role in the Academy Award-winning ensemble film Crash as the wife of the Persian shopkeeper. Following this she played another Middle Eastern role on the series The Closer in 2005. In 2006, she had a three-episode recurring role as a love match-maker on Girlfriends, and she guest-starred in Without a Trace. In 2007, Sirtis starred in the SyFy channel production of Grendel, where she played the Queen. Independent movies Trade Routes, The Deep Below and Lesser of Three Evils were released. She provided the voice for Matriarch Benezia in the critically acclaimed video game Mass Effect on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.
On British television in 2008, she made a guest appearance in an episode of Casualty‘s spin-off show, Holby City. The same year the sci-fi/drama movie Inalienable, written by Star Trek alumnus Walter Koenig, was released. Sirtis said of her role, “I actually play the Deputy Attorney General of the United States so I’m a bad guy, a mean lawyer, which was fantastic.”
The direct-to-DVD sequels Green Street 2 and The Grudge 3, featuring Sirtis, were released in 2009. She co-starred in the British movie 31 North 62 East as the Prime Minister’s top aide; it had a limited theatrical release in the UK. Sirtis guest-starred in the first episode of the short-lived hospital drama Three Rivers. She returned to SyFy in December 2009 in the disaster movie Annihilation Earth.
2010 saw Sirtis guest-star as a Swiss doctor in two episodes of ABC Family’s Make It or Break It. In May 2010, Sirtis announced that she would be providing the voice for comic book villainess Queen Bee in Young Justice animated series. She provided her voice for a number of episodes from 2011 until its cancellation in 2013. In March 2011, Sirtis guest-starred on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. She played an Iranian mother who was at the hospital to participate in a medical trial for Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2012, the vampire movie, Speed Demons, in which Sirtis co-starred, was released to pay-per-view services. The same year, she played a fortune teller in the Castlevania fan-made series posted on YouTube. She accepted a recurring role as Director of Mossad on NCIS. Her character, Orli Elbaz, succeeds Eli David (portrayed by Michael Nouri) and was introduced in the Season 10 episode “Berlin“, which aired in April 2013. She subsequently appeared in the second episode of Season 11, which aired in early October 2013.
Sirtis is married to rock guitarist Michael Lamper (21 June 1992 – present). Her younger brother, Steve, played football in Greece and played for Columbia University in the early 1980s. She is an avowed supporter of Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and her cousin is the Jazz painist Jason Rebello.
|1983||The Wicked Lady||Jackson’s Girl|
|1985||Death Wish 3||Maria|
|1992||Waxwork II: Lost in Time||Gloria|
|1994||Star Trek Generations||Counselor Deanna Troi|
|1996||Star Trek: First Contact||Counselor Deanna Troi|
|1998||Star Trek: Insurrection||Counselor Deanna Troi|
|2002||Star Trek: Nemesis||Counselor Deanna Troi|
|2007||Fist of the Warrior||Mary|
|2007||The Deep Below||Sarah|
|2007||Game of Life||Mrs. Rafiki|
|2009||The Grudge 3||Gretchen|
|2009||31 North 62 East||Sarah Webber|
|2014||Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films||Herself|
|2015||A Dark Reflection||Maggie Jaspar|
|2013||Star Trek Continues||Computer|
|2013||Adventure Time||Samantha||Episode: “The Pit”|
|2013||NCIS||Orli Elbaz||Episode: “Past, Present, and Future“|
|2011||Grey’s Anatomy||Sonya Amin|
|2010–2012||Young Justice||L-4 / Queen Bee / Scientist #2|
|2010||Make It or Break It||Dr. Anna Kleister|
|2009||Annihilation Earth||Paxton||TV Movie|
|2009||The Cleveland Show||Greek Prostitute||Animated Series|
|2009||Green Street 2||Veronica Mavis|
|2009||Three Rivers||Layla Rahimi|
|2008||Holby City (UK)||Lucy Simmonds|
|2007||Grendel||Queen Wealtheow||TV Movie|
|2006||Without a Trace||Alexas Soros|
|2005||Family Guy||Marina Sirtis||Animated Series|
|2005||The Closer||Layla Moktari|
|2005||Star Trek: Enterprise||Counselor Deanna Troi|
|2003||Threat Matrix||Dr. Nabila Hassan|
|2001||Casualty (UK)||Jane Taylor, MP|
|1999–2000||Star Trek: Voyager||Counselor Deanna Troi|
|2000||Stargate SG-1||Dr. Svetlana Markova||Episode: Watergate|
|1999||Earth: Final Conflict||Sister Margarette|
|1999||The Outer Limits||Olivia ‘Liv’ Kohler||Episode: “The Grell“|
|1998||Diagnosis: Murder||Mary Ann Eagin|
|1994–1996, 1998||Gargoyles||Demona||Animated Series|
|1997||Duckman||Aurora Abromowitz||Animated Series|
|1996||Gadgetman (UK)||Detective Inspector Walker||TV Movie|
|1994||Heaven Help Us||Carolyn Paris|
|1987–1994||Star Trek: The Next Generation||Counselor Deanna Troi|
|1990||One Last Chance (UK)||Maria||TV Movie|
|1988||Reading Rainbow||Herself||Episode: “The Bionic Bunny Show“|
|1986||Room at the Bottom (UK)||Carla|
|1986||Call Me Mister (UK)||Sally|
|1986||The Return of Sherlock Holmes (UK)||Lucrezia||Episode: “The Six Napoleons”|
|1985||Up the Elephant and Round the Castle (UK)||Lisa|
|1982||Kelly Monteith (UK)||Uncredited|
|1979||Cinzano Commercial||Stewardess||TV Commercial|
|1978||Hazell (UK)||Melina Stassinopolus|
|1978||The Thief of Baghdad (UK)||Harem Girl||TV Movie|
|1977||Who Pays the Ferryman? (UK)||Ariadne|
- Griffin and Sabine audio series (1993) … Sabine
- Gargoyles (1994–97) … Demona
- Mass Effect (Video game) (2008) … Matriarch Benezia
- Young Justice (2010–12) … Queen Bee
- Pilgrim of Eternity (2013) … Computer (recreation of the Computer from Star Trek: The Original Series)
- Adventure Time (2013) … Samantha (Episode “The Pit”)