Sometimes it's hard to believe that an actor or actress playing an iconic character from one of your favorite TV shows may not have been a fan of said show in the first place. 'Cause sometimes an acting job is an acting job, right? And that's how it was for Star Trek's Marina Sirtis.
The British actress played the beautiful half-betazoid, half-human empathic counselor Deanna Troi through seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, four films, a couple of Voyager episodes and the Enterprise finale.
But before she got cast by the Great Bird (Gene Roddenberry) on The Next Generation back in 1987, Sirtis—who originally auditioned for the role of Lt. Natasha "Tasha" Yar (eventually played by Denise Crosby) when Roddenberry decided her "dark ethnic look" was better suited for Troi—had never been a huge fan of the original Star Trek series.
Even more interesting is the fact that she may have never gotten cast on TNG if Gates McFadden hadn't nabbed the role of Dr. Beverly Crusher!
That's what Marina Sirtis revealed in a lengthy interview with The Morton Report:
"When I went in it was basically just another audition," recalls Sirtis. "I wasn't a huge fan of Star Trek, so I wasn't particularly excited about the prospect of getting on the series. I was nervous but it wasn't like, 'Oh, I've got to get this part.' I had six auditions and, of course, with every one you realize you're getting closer and closer.
"By the time last one came around I could barely speak. I could say my lines but that was about it. There was no chitchat or anything like that," she recalls with a laugh. "I was terrified because I'd never been through such an extensive process before. It was one audition a week for six weeks and by the end of it all you were desperate to get the job.
"Even after the final test I had to wait a few days to find out if I had the part because there was a question of whether or not Gates McFadden [Doctor Beverly Crusher] was going to do it. If not, then the actress who was, I think, second in line to play the doctor, and who was British as well, was also up for the part. They wouldn't have wanted three Brits, as Patrick Stewart was already playing Captain Picard, so perhaps I wouldn't have been picked if Gates weren't cast as Doctor Crusher. I didn't know any of this at the time, so it was interesting the way things turned out. When I finally got the job I felt like I needed a long nap and a tranquilizer," she jokes.
So Marina Sirtis became Deanna Troi and, after a ho-hum fling with Worf (Michael Dorn—we still don't get that one), married her Imzadi, Cmdr. Riker (Jonathan Frakes); Gates McFadden got to be Capt. Jean-Luc Picard's (Patrick Stewart) long-and-not-so-secret love interest Dr. Beverly Crusher; and Denise Crosby became the ill-fated Tasha Yar before appearing in a couple of episodes as Cmdr. Sela, her half-Romulan daughter from an alternate reality.
And the rest, as they say, is Star Trek history.