Star Trek’s Marina Sirtis Regrets Saying No To Will Smith
Marina Sirtis had the chance to star alongside Will Smith in Men in Black but turned it down for the flopped film Paradise Lost.
Fans of actor Marina Sirtis mostly know her from her role as Counselor Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation, a role that she recently reprised for Star Trek: Picard. There is a chance she would be remembered for other things, though, if she hadn’t passed on a very important film opportunity after Star Trek: The Next Generation ended. In an interview with Medium, she mentioned that “the movie that I didn’t go in on was Men in Black.”
In the interview, she didn’t explicitly mention what character she would have played, but the most likely answer is that it would have been Laurel, a role later made famous by Linda Fiorentino. Frankly, if Marina Sirtis had played a prominent role in a major blockbuster like Men in Black, she probably would have had a richer film career. Right now, she’s probably slapping herself for not working with Will Smith, but at the time, she thought she had chosen the more important movie.
Given the choice, Marina Sirtis instead chose to star in Paradise Lost, a movie focusing on efforts to save the rainforest. This seemed like an important cause to focus her time and attention on, but Sirtis later joked that “I obviously can’t read a script to save my life.” She said that because while Men in Black became a blockbuster film franchise, Paradise Lost went straight to video.
Ironically, though, Marina Sirtis was most likely trying to help her career out by avoiding being typecast as much as possible. But after starring in seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation alongside Patrick Stewart, Sirtis didn’t want to dive back into sci-fi. She said as much in the interview, claiming that, “having just done a bunch of sci-fi,” the star instead decided to travel to Puerto Rico and focus on an entirely different kind of movie instead.
Of course, nobody has more of a sense of humor about the entire thing than Marina Sirtis herself, and because of her inability to tell a good script from a bad one, she adopted a much simpler philosophy when it came to acting roles. “Since then,” she says, “I pretty much said ‘yes’ to everything.” And she isn’t afraid of taking genre and sci-fi roles anymore, appearing in shows like The Orville and branching into voicework, most notably by voicing Matriarch Benezia in the Mass Effect video game.
And somewhere along the way, Marina Sirtis must have decided she didn’t mind if she was primarily remembered for playing Counselor Troi. Since Star Trek: The Next Generation ended, she has played that character again in four Trek movies and four Trek series. Given how rabid the Trek fanbase is, we can’t blame her: why keep taking roles in weird stuff like The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time when she can return to fans still worshiping her for performances from decades ago?
Still, we can’t help but wonder what kind of effect Marina Sirtis might have had on the Men in Black franchise. After the first movie made a big point of showing Linda Fiorentino’s Laurel becoming Agent L, scriptwriters wrote her out of the MIB in the sequel with a single line of dialogue. If Star Trek veteran Sirtis had played her instead, perhaps that franchise would have boldly gone with a female co-lead in subsequent films.