Star Trek Actress Reveals The Studio Threatened To Replace Her With Jeri Ryan

That would've been just wrong.

By Michileen Martin | Published

star trek

If you’ve happened to see the final pre-Kelvin Timeline Star Trek movie, 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, then you may recall that Kate Mulgrew had a cameo in the film as Admiral Kathryn Janeway. This was possible narratively because it was the first movie in the franchise after the series finale of Star Trek: Voyager brought the eponymous crew home to Earth. What you may not know is that Paramount used this to try to either replace Star Trek: The Next Generation mainstay Marina Sirtis with Jeri Ryan, or to force her to take a pay cut.

As recalled by TrekMovie, the 2017 Star Trek Las Vegas event concluded with a TNG cast reunion. One question from a fan got Marina Sirtis fired up enough to talk about something she’d never opened up about publicly. A fan asked why they always heard Trek actresses talk about difficult contract negotiations, but never heard similar stories from men. Sirtis responded, “Women are paid less than men in Hollywood, like everywhere else.” Then, she followed up with the story about the studio trying to replace her. “When I was negotiating for Nemesis they literally threatened to fire me and recast Troi, well not actually recast, but they said ‘We are going to fire you and hire Jeri Ryan.’ And I said ‘Well Jeri Ryan won’t do it for that money, that is for sure.'”

marina sirtis
Marina Sirtis in Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

As TrekMovie points out, elements of Sirtis’ story were confirmed long before she told it. In 2011, Jeri Ryan said she turned down an offer to appear in Star Trek: Nemesis. In 2014, Ryan expanded on the story, saying Trek producer Rick Berman was contacted by Paramount Studios who reportedly insisted on Jeri Ryan being cast in Nemesis. When asked how Ryan would fit into the movie, Paramount responded, “Well, we’re going to replace one of the characters with Seven.” And now we know that character was Deanna Troi.

One interesting part of this to note is that, out of all four Star Trek movies in which Marina Sirtis appeared, Nemesis is the one in which her character is the most pivotal. Her character Deanna Troi is married to Will Riker (Jonathan Frakes) early in the movie. Later, she’s psychically assaulted by the Reman Viceroy (Ron Perlman) and later is able to use this against the villains. Meanwhile in Insurrection her biggest contribution is a romantic subplot with Riker, in First Contact she’s mostly visible getting drunk with Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell), and she gives Picard (Patrick Stewart) a brief counseling session in Generations.

Not only would her bigger part in Star Trek: Nemesis have made it much more difficult to replace her with Jeri Ryan’s Seven, but it’s not unreasonable to speculate this may be why Sirtis was asking to be compensated more — she had a bigger part, she deserved more money. Of course, with all of that said, Nemesis is still largely considered to be one of the worst films in the Star Trek franchise. Though we can hardly imagine how Deanna Troi inexplicably disappearing and being replaced with Seven of Nine (particularly considering Picard’s history with the Borg) would have made it any better.