Believe it or not, it's been a quarter of a century since Star Trek: The Next Generation first made it so. The series, which was set a century after the original series took place, ran from 1987 to 1994. TNG stars Michael Dorn, who played the Klingon character Lieutenant Worf, and Marina Sirtis, who portrayed the half-Betazoid empath Counselor Deanna Troi, beamed on over to our city to grace Fan Expo Vancouver with their presence on the weekend.
Dorn said he hadn't been to Vancouver since shooting some TV shows here in the '90s (he said he used to go to the now-defunct Delilah's after work), and Sirtis said she was last here when she shot the fourth season of Stargate.
The pair took occasional humorous jabs at one another (Sirtis was comedically cantankerous) as they participated in a question-and-answer session with fans on April 22 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
(Note to fans: If you ever ask them a question in the future, one best to avoid would be "How does it feel to be beamed?" The pair said they get asked that question a lot.)
Here are a few snippets from their talk.
Dorn said he had to get up at 3 a.m. to be in makeup at 4 a.m. because it took three hours for his extensive makeup to be applied.
Dorn: "For seven years, I was like the smartest man in the world 'cause I read the paper while they were doing the makeup. And I read the L.A. Times from the beginning to the end, and did the crossword puzzle, and every time I finished the crossword puzzle, they would like be done. So I just didn't pay attention, except one day that I didn't have the paper, and I bugged the shit out of 'em because they're putting it on and [I'm] going, 'What're you doing? What're you doing? What's that?' And they go, 'Michael, we've been doing this for three years.' 'I know but what is it?' "
Sirtis: "My makeup took as long as his, I'll have you know. It did. 'Cause it was precise and excellent work."
The pair quibbled (playfully) about this and who was in the makeup trailer first but could not agree on anything. "Next question!" Sirtis announced.
Dorn: "The first season, before the show even aired, I think we were doing this publicity…and there was a lot of hostility. And we were like going, 'We're just actors on a TV show. What are you talking about?' 'Who do you think you are? Do you think you're Spock? Who do you think you are? What are you supposed to be?' There was really this kind of animosity about it."
Sirtis: "The older fans who were fans of the original show were not happy that we were coming along. They were like, 'We are quite content watching our heroes in syndication' and 'How dare you?' And the most frequent question that we were asked by the press was 'Who's the new Spock?' And we're like, 'Well, actually, we don't have a Spock. There is no new Spock.' And they just couldn't get their heads past that. It took about two years actually to get the adoration that we fortunately get now."
Sirtis: "The one thing I learned doing TNG, I would often say to the writers, 'What does Troi do when she's not on duty? I mean, we know she works out. Duh. What else does she do?' And they would say, 'Well, what do you want her to do?' And I would say, 'Well, I'm an actress. You know, I just show up and say my lines. You're the writers. Think of something.' That was wrong. The people who got a lot of interesting stuff to on Star Trek—people like Brent [Spiner, who played Data], people like Bob Picardo—they actually would think of stuff and take it to the writers. And now I realize that the writers are so rushed off their feet having to write all these scripts every week that they really appreciate a little input from the actors. So that it is a lesson that I've learned. If and when I do another series, I will definitely contribute a lot more."
On sexual tension between Worf and Troi
Dorn: "It was a bit odd because we were so close as like friends....In fact, there was one time when we had to kiss and we started laughing about it…."
Sirtis: "You weren't laughing. You were making animal noises. You were grunting and making these weird sounds when we were kissing….I said to him after, 'Was that Dorn or was that Worf?' And he just smiled enigmatically and walked away."
On rolling around in cat shit
Dorn: "We were sitting there, and Patrick [Stewart, who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard] and I, we had climbed through these caves and we were dirty and it was on this one stage…it was like the planet hell, as we called it, 'cause that's where they build the planets that you go to. And they use the same dirt that's been there for, like, I dunno how many years. And we have cats at Paramount….And we know this and we're dirty and we're sitting there and…we're covered in dirt and Patrick and I look at each other and just start laughing. Just uncontrollably. And it wasn't like a ha-ha laugh. It was kinda like a pitiful laugh. And I said, 'Patrick, what are you laughing about?' And he goes, 'I don't know how I got here. I was doing a seven-hour in Santa Barbara, and now I'm climbing around in cat poo.' "
On the cast as BFFs
Sirtis: " We really still are like really, really, really best friends, and it actually is amazing to us that it's happened….It's the studios who cannot understand that these seven actors, who've known each other for 25 years, and worked together on and off for 15 of those years, we truly love each other. Because it's probably unique in Hollywood that this has happened. I can't think of any other show where the whole group has stayed close. Obviously in other shows, two or three of the actors become close….So I think we all feel blessed that we were a part of that cast."
Sirtis: "I don’t think there's ever been a day since we started that all of us haven't felt blessed: a) to work on such a really good show, well-written, well-acted, and appreciated by the fans; and also to work with these amazing people who became our family, and still are. I mean, don't forget, I was like really fresh off the boat when I was cast, and so was Patrick, and these people were our family.
"I've often said that a lot of people in show business sometimes forget exactly why they have all the blessings in their life that they do. And it's because of the public…you are the reason that we have this amazing life and I think we would both like to thank you all for your loyalty. It's been 25 years. If you said to me 25 years ago I'd be sitting up here, I woulda said, 'You're crazy'. Well, you weren't. We weren't. It's been the most amazing ride of our lives and we just want to say thank you, guys. You're the best."
You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig.