Marina Sirtis: How Cleavage Changed Her Star Trek Character

By Rick Gonzales | 4 months ago

marina sirtis deanna troi star trek

Probably best known as Lt. Deanna Troi, Marina Sirtis cut her teeth on the classic TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation. She became a part of the Star Trek family when the series premiered in 1987 and since that time has returned to that character a number of times, most recently on the CBS All-Access series Star Trek: Picard. So technically, there has been no “after” when it comes to Sirtis’s time on Star Trek, only “in between.”


star trek next generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation came at a most fortuitous time in the life of Marina Sirtis. She initially read for the role of Tasha Yar, a part that Denise Crosby would eventually take, while Crosby initially read for Deanna Troi. In total, Sirtis had five auditions with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry as well as other executives and was actually in debt, jobless, and ready to head home to England when she received the call saying she got the job as Deanna Troi. While Sirtis’s acting career had started ten years prior, she was at a point where she wasn’t finding work. She was thrilled to take the part because she was promised 26 episodes, the longest job she’d have to that point.

The Troi character had always been designed to be the sexy, attractive woman on the show. Judging by her attire for the first six seasons of the show, that was most definitely the case. The show ran for seven seasons. Thankfully for Marina Sirtis, season seven introduced “brains” to her character. It didn’t stop Sirtis from telling the audience at the 2010 DragonCon about those first six years. “There are certain rules in Hollywood. One of the rules is not written anywhere, but you just know: if you’re doing an action-adventure show, you gotta have chicks on the show for the boys to look at when they’re not blowing up other spaceships. Second rule: if the chick has a cleavage, she cannot have a brain,” she said via The Geek Twins. “So, [after wearing a uniform in the first episode] I got a cleavage, and all my gray matter departed. Which was sad, because originally (I know this is gonna shock you), Troi was supposed to be the brains of the Enterprise. So when the cleavage came, all that left, and I became decorative, like a potted palm on the bridge.”

marina sirtis troi star trek

Season 7 saw Troi get her Starfleet uni and she relished the opportunity to add brains to her character. “So I started to wear my spacesuit. I was thrilled to finally be in a spacesuit. First of all, my pips – cause I had a rank, you know,” Marina Sirtis said again via The Geek Twins. “And then, it was very flattering actually, it looked really good. Suddenly, I was smart again. My cleavage had gone. My gray matter came flooding back. I was on away teams! I was the leader of one away team! I had a medical tricorder! And unlike Beverly, I seemed to know what was wrong with people.”

Speaking of sexy…


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Marina Sirtis is no stranger to nudity on film as she has appeared a few times sans clothing. But when her character was first being developed by Roddenberry, obviously she wouldn’t be appearing nude on the series, but he initially wanted to give Deanna Troi a couple of extra features. He wanted Troi with four breasts. Oh, he also wanted her to be an oversexed hermaphrodite. Not feeling Roddenberry on this, writer and producer Dorothea DC Fontana had to convince Roddenberry to dump the idea.

Fontana said in the book Gene Roddenberry: The Myth and the Man Behind Star Trek that she had to tell Roddenberry, “I honestly believe you will offend most women, and maybe a lot of men with this character. Besides, how are you going to arrange those four provocatively shaped breasts? Four in a row? They had better be small. Two banks of two? Do you know how much trouble women have with the normal number—keeping them out of the way of things, I mean. Four straight up and down? Don’t be silly.” Supposedly it then went from four to three. She had the same reaction, as she told EW, “I objected to Troi having three breasts. I felt women have enough trouble with two. And how are you going to line them up? Vertically, horizontally, or what? I was like, please, don’t go there. And they didn’t, fortunately.” Perhaps Fontana was getting her numbers mixed up but thankfully they decided to keep Troi with the normally required amount.


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Marina Sirtis’s time on the series ended in 1994, but that didn’t stop her from playing Troi. She was asked back for the subsequent feature films Star Trek Generations (1994), Star Trek First Contact (1996), Star Trek Insurrection (1998), and Star Trek Nemesis (2002).

The one thing she truly loved about revisiting her character came from her time on Star Trek First Contact. She loved the fact that she could play her character with a little more humor. “Personally, for my character, I loved it because it opened the door to a different side of Troi we’d never seen before,” she said by way of Sci-fi and TV Talk. “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.”


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Through the years, other than her Star Trek feature films, Marina Sirtis has reprised her role as Deanna Troi on other shows. She returned to her character in Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, and she even lent her voice for Star Trek: Lower Decks. Fans were thrilled when Troi made an appearance in one episode of Star Trek: Picard. Sirtis doesn’t appear to have any qualms showing up as Troi when called upon.


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Marina Sirtis has enjoyed a long and mostly successful career. Life in between her Star Trek appearances has been busy. She has been seen on many feature films as well as TV series and she has done her fair share of voice work. Some of the features she’s been involved with include Paradise Lost, Trade Routes, The Grudge 3, Speed Demons, and A Dark Reflection. Her TV shows include Stargate SG-1, Diagnosis Murder, NCIS, Girlfriends, and Without a Trace. Her voice work includes animated series like Gargoyles and video games. Of course, we also have to mention (getting back to her Star Trek roots) that Marina Sirtis also lent her voice to the web series Star Trek Continues. She was the voice of the computer.

Not slowing down one bit, Sirtis has quite a few upcoming projects lined up. She will next be seen in the features The Bezonians and A Thousand Little Cuts and don’t be surprised if she dusts off her Starfleet uniform to join Picard one more time.