Star Trek's Marina Sirtis says new play Dark Sublime reflects her own experiences: "It's me, it's my life"
This summer, Marina Sirtis makes her West End debut in new play Dark Sublime at Trafalgar Studios.
Described as "a love-letter to British sci-fi television – those that make it and those that adore it" – there are few better qualified people to play the lead role than Hackney-born Sirtis, who played Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation for seven TV seasons and a batch of feature films.
"Marianne, whose name is eerily similar to Marina, used to be in a sci-fi show called Dark Sublime, which was kind of a niche show," she told Digital Spy of the setup.
While the fictional Dark Sublime was no Star Trek, Sirtis couldn't help but see herself in the role.
"She's me... it's me, it's my life. I said, 'I have to play this part.' I don't think [writer] Michael Dennis knows Marina Sirtis. I think he possibly knows Deanna Troi, and from watching TNG I don't think he thought I was right for the part, but hopefully I won't disappoint him!"
Apparently, Dennis didn't even know that Sirtis was English, which isn't a surprise considering how different her real-life London accent is from her clipped Betazoid tones.
"I don't think she's going to be as Cockney as I am!" she said of Marianne. "I am gonna have to posh her up a little bit. I'm not going to posh her up totally but I am going to make her not a Cockney, maybe London, Est-uary."
Speaking of voices, also in the cast as a voice-only role is Mark Gatiss, who actually sent Marina the script after chatting to director Andrew Keates at a party. "He gave us the script! That's where the script came from," she revealed.
"As soon as he sent it to me, I picked up the phone immediately and, not even thinking about what time it was in England, called him and said, 'I have to play this part, I have to!'"
Sirtis will have her Trek fan army at her back when she takes to the stage later this month. "I have people coming from America, from Canada, from virtually every country in Europe to see me in Dark Sublime," she said.
"I mean, it's incredible. That's how loyal my fans are. They'll pay the money to get on a plane and fly across the Atlantic or the English Channel, put themselves up in a hotel room, pay the money to see the play – all that money just to come and see me. It really blows my mind, to be honest.
"It actually makes me humble, grateful, a bit bemused, Star Trek fans are the most loyal fans in the universe. Once they love you, they love you forever and they want to see you in everything that you do. I just can't get my head around it actually."
She added: "If anyone comes after me on Twitter, my fans will jump to my defence and go after them. They kind of love me unconditionally. It's a very strange thing. I never ever imagined that I would be in anything that really impacted people's lives the way it has.
"Obviously at the time we were shooting [The Next Generation] we had no clue, which is probably a good thing or it'd be really weird, but in retrospect we found that we weren't just a TV show to these people – we were more than that. We were something that helped them.
"The fact that we were inclusive and non-judgemental, and people who maybe didn't find a place to belong in life found a place to belong in the Star Trek fandom...
"I think it's awesome, and I don't use that word very often but it really is a privilege to be in a show that did that."
A key theme in Dark Sublime is whether or not stars can be friends with fans.
"That's where Marianne and I differ," Sirtis explained.
"She says in the play you can't really be friends with a fan. In my case, not true. It's mainly women, which is bizarre, because I know a lot of teenage boys had my poster up in their bedroom back in the day!
"Most of my most devoted fans are women. Because I see them all the time, I have become friends – and very good friends – with about 20 women.
"We're really, really good friends and I value their friendship. I sometimes think they'd take a bullet for me, I really do, they love me that much.
"How can you not love them back when they're so devoted? And they're such great women, they're really great women."
Marina Sirtis stars in Dark Sublime which plays at Trafalgar Studios from Tuesday, June 25 to Saturday, August 3.