Marina Sirtis spoke to AV Club recently about roles she has played, including that of Counselor Deanna Troi.
These days, people wince when thinking about The Next Generation‘s first season, but for Sirtis, the first season was bad because she believed that she would be let go at any moment.
“Well, Gene [Roddenberry] felt that there was one too many women on the show,” explained Sirtis. “And you need a doctor [Crusher] and a security chief [Yar], but you really don’t need a psychologist. It was as simple as that. Security chief is viable, a doctor is viable — a psychologist, not so much. So I was getting fired. I asked Majel Barrett-Roddenberry straight out, because we were very close, and I asked her a few years ago, before she passed away, and I said, ‘I was going to get fired that first season, wasn’t I?’ And she went, ‘Yep!’ The irony of the whole situation is that at the end of the first season, I was the only one left out of the three.”
Then came the writer’s strike and growing closer to the Roddenberry family. “The biggest thing for me was — there was a long hiatus, because that’s when there was a writers’ strike, so we had a long time off,” said Sirtis. “Despite everything that was going on behind the scenes, I was kind of adopted into the Roddenberry family because Majel played [Deanna Troi’s] mom, and I got invited to all the holiday dinners. They always made sure that if I didn’t have somewhere to go that I had a family to go to. Any holiday, they were amazing like that.
“So at Jonathan Frakes‘ wedding, [Gene Roddenberry] took me aside, and he goes, ‘You know what, I just wanted to tell you that whenever it is that we go back to work after the strike, the first episode of the second season is a Troi episode.’ And I just burst into tears. Because basically, I’ve been hanging on by my fingernails for that whole first season — not just professionally, but emotionally. I had landed the best job ever, and I was going to lose it. I was so up and down. One minute, I was so happy to be working. The next minute, I was just in the depths of despair. So when he said that to me, it meant the world. Not only did I have a job, but the first episode after a six-month break was going to be a Troi episode. That’s how much they thought of me.
“It just freed me up. I was able to finally relax. I was able to go, ‘Oof, okay. Now I can just do my job.’ And when I was just able to do my job, they wrote more and more for me. So there was a good part of it, because I got way more to do, but the tiny little downside is that I got all the love and sex stuff.”