If Marina Sirtis could go back in time and do Star Trek: The Next Generation again, there is something that she would change about her own behavior.
One of Sirtis’ regrets is that she didn’t think more about Troi’s own story, but at the time she did The Next Generation, Sirtis was content with what was happening. “Hindsight is 20-20, isn’t it,” she said ruefully. “I have to be honest with you and say that, at the time, I was perfectly happy.”
But Sirtis realizes now that Troi’s history was pretty much unknown and Sirtis missed an opportunity to rectify that. “Looking back now, we didn’t know all that much about her,” said Sirtis. “We knew she had a mom. We knew she was from Betazed. But we didn’t really know much of her back story. Apart from working out, we didn’t know what she did in her off time. We didn’t know her likes and dislikes, her hobbies, anything like that.”
Other actors in the series made sure to provide input on their characters whenever possible. “The characters that we did know about, the actors were very smart,” said Sirtis. “They went to the writers and made suggestions. Brent (Spiner) sang, and so he went in and said, ‘You know, I’d like to sing in some episodes.’ And so Data became musical on occasion.”
But Sirtis didn’t do that with Troi, even though her advice was solicited. “What happened with Deanna was my fault, actually,” she said. “The writers always used to say to me, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I’d have the attitude, ‘Well, you’re the writer. Come up with something.'”
In future roles, Sirtis won’t make that same mistake. “I realize now that when you’re writing an episode a week and doing rewrites every ten minutes, input from other people isn’t a bad thing,” she said. “There’s a wheel of episodic television. It’s like a wheel in a gerbil’s cage, and it’s just going ’round and ’round and ’round. They don’t have time. They really don’t. They’re just so busy. So it’s really helpful for the writers to get some input from the actors. So now, when I do another series, I’ll take that lesson with me to that next series. And if I find that I have some ideas about the character, I will take them to the writers. I mean, Star Trek was my first series. I didn’t know how it worked. I’ve learned. So I would definitely act differently in an upcoming job.”
Sirtis is currently appearing in A Snow White Christmas, which is playing at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood through December 18.