Friday night at Star Trek Las Vegas ended with a 90-minute reunion event for the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The entertaining evening mostly showed this cast still has great chemistry as they jovially shared stories of hijinks on the set, such as comparing who stole what when the series ended (Patrick Stewart took a combadge, Marina Sirtis took home a director’s chair and three costumes).
One moment that stood was out when a fan asked a question to the women in the group about why they have talked about having difficult contract negotiations when you don’t hear the men in the cast make the same complaint. Marina Sirtis was quick to respond saying “Women are paid less than men in Hollywood, like everywhere else.” The actress then recalled a story she says she has never spoken about before:
When I was negotiating for [Star Trek:] 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 (Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager).” And I said “Well Jeri Ryan won’t do it for that money, that is for sure.”
Nemesis offer previously confirmed by Ryan
While Sirtis noted this is the first time she has talked about this, it isn’t the first time the subject has come up. In 2011 TrekMovie reported on Jeri Ryan revealing she had turned down an offer to be in Nemesis from producer Rick Berman. At the time it wasn’t clear if the offer was just a cameo as the final film did include a cameo from Ryan’s Voyager co-star Kate Mulgrew.
And in 2014 TrekMovie reported from Destination Star Trek London where Ryan gave more details on the offer:
The call [from Paramount] came and they said “Put Jeri Ryan in the movie,” and I’m like “Okay… in what way are you going to put Jeri Ryan in this movie?” “Well, we’re going to replace one of the characters with Seven”…which makes absolutely no sense.
But at the time it wasn’t clear who it was Berman and Paramount had in mind to replace or why. Now with Sirtis’ comment it appears to be related to her contract negotiations. And it may be that Ryan’s reluctance to do it removed Paramount’s leverage and obviously Sirtis did eventually sign on for what was the fourth and final film for the TNG cast.
And as both Sirtis and Ryan noted, swapping actresses would not have been a simple task. Star Trek: Voyager had just gone off the air in mid-2001 as Nemesis was in development so Seven was at least back in the right quadrant of space, but she had no relationship with the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-E. The change would have required significant changes to script, notably the opening wedding scene with Sirtis’ playing the bride. There was also a substantial subplot involving Troi’s psychic connection to the Reman Viceroy (Ron Perlman).
Sirtis and Stewart decry pay inequity
Sirtis went on to talk more about her problems with Paramount:
Women are always paid less and the negotiations are always uglier because there is some kind of feeling that we don’t deserve the same money as the boys. It was always ugly. I quit smoking for six years but what got me started again was contract negotiations with Paramount. That is how bad it was.
The actress noted that she was “getting wound up” on the subject saying that the problem even exists with women producers. Sirtis then described actress Jennifer Lawrence as her “hero” for taking a stand against gender pay inequity in Hollywood, adding:
I wish there were more actresses like her in the business because we are not treated the same. If a man is difficult it is artistic temperament. If a woman is difficult, she is a bitch.
And while the other women on the panel (Gates McFadden and Denise Crosby) didn’t weigh in, Sir Patrick Stewart did, agreeing with Sirtis as she was talking about the issue:
Women are paid less than men almost everywhere in most countries in the world. And it is an inequity that has to be corrected.
More Star Trek Las Vegas Coverage
Stay tuned for additional coverage coming all week long.