Commander Deanna Troi (pronounced /diːˈænə/) is a main character in the science-fiction TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation and related TV series and films, portrayed by actress Marina Sirtis. Troi is half-human, half-Betazoid and has the empathic ability to sense emotions. She serves as the ship's counselor on USS Enterprise. Throughout most of the series, she holds the rank of lieutenant commander. In the seventh season, however, Troi takes the bridge officer's examination (with the help of William Riker), and is promoted to the rank of commander, but continues as counselor.
Development and casting
Marina Sirtis at first read for the role that would become Tasha Yar in 1986. She had, in total, five readings all with Gene Roddenberry and other executives. It has been noted that Roddenberry took a liking to her almost immediately. Denise Crosby, who eventually won the role of Tasha, auditioned for the role of Deanna Troi. It was said that Marina Sirtis had a more "exotic" feel about her (as stated in the DVD extras found on a bonus Star Trek TNG DVD).
She was just about to return home, in debt and jobless, when she received "the phone call" alerting her that she had the role of Deanna Troi. She stated that if it had been an hour later she would have missed that call and been on her way to England. Sirtis' U.S. visa was expiring that day, and if she had stayed any longer, she could have run into legal trouble.
For Sirtis, Star Trek was her first big break. Prior to "Deanna Troi", her acting career was going nowhere: "What they told us about The Next Generation when we first started was that we were guaranteed twenty-six episodes. So that was the longest job I've ever had." Also, Sirtis had virtually no knowledge about the Star Trek franchise and at first just thought of it as a good means to pay her bills.
Initially, Sirtis/Troi was planned as the eye-candy of the show. Gene Roddenberry intended her to have four breasts, before his wife told him this was a poor idea. Prior to filming, Sirtis was told to "lose five pounds" (5 pounds (2.3 kg; 0.36 st)), but thought herself that she had to drop even more, and was often wearing plunging necklines and form-fitting dresses. After six years, the producers decided to drop the "sexy and brainless" Troi and make her a stronger character:
"I was thrilled when I got my regulation Starfleet uniform... it covered up my cleavage and I got all my brains back, because when you have cleavage you can't have brains in Hollywood... I was allowed to do things that I hadn't been allowed to do for five or six years. I went on away teams, I was in charge of staff, I had my pips back, I had phasers, I had all the equipment again, and it was fabulous. I was absolutely thrilled."
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