Star Trek Las Vegas witnessed a 90 minutes reunion event for the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The highly entertaining evening witnessed the great chemistry that still exists between the cast of the series. There was great camaraderie and sharing of anecdotes, inside bytes and the audience also came to know as who took away what from the sets upon the series’ completion. It was revealed that Patrick Stewart took away a combadge whereas Marina Sirtis stole a director’s chair and three costumes.
There was a standout moment during the interactions when one fan asked the group of ladies why they have been vocal about their contract issues while the men of the cast made no such noise. Marina Sirtis quickly responded by stating that like all other places, Hollywood also pays less to women. Then she went on to share a story which she had never made public before that evening.
“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.”
Although Sirtis said that she had never spoken about it before, this issue has been in the spotlight earlier. In 2011, TrekMovie had reported that Jeri Ryan had revealed about having turned down an offer to feature in Nemesis from producer Rick Berman. However, at that time it wasn’t clarified whether the offer was for a cameo played by Ryan’s Voyager co star Kate Mulgrew or not?
Later in 2014, TrekMovie again revealed further details shared by Ryan from Destination Star Trek London about the offer that she had turned down.
“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.”
Even then it was not clear as to who was sought to be replaced by Ryan. However, the latest comment from Sirtis makes it clear that the issue was related to her contract negotiations. As it turned out, Ryan’s refusal eventually seems to have taken out the Paramount’s edge and Sirtis ended up signing her fourth and final film with the TNG cast.
One thing that both Ryan and Sirtis noted that swapping of an actress couldn’t have been an easy task. Star Trek – Voyager had gone off the air in mid-2001 and at that time Nemesis was in the development stage and replacement of an actress would have needed massive changes to the script and the plot overall.
Sirtis and Stewart talk about pay issues
Sirtis further elaborated 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”
She said she gets worked up on the issue and it is not just the actresses, but, even the female producers are paid less compared to the men. She went on to say that Jennifer Lawrence is her ‘hero’ for having taken a strong stand against this gender pay inequality in Hollywood. She added
“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.”
While the other women on the panel declined to make any comment, Sir Patrick Stewart agreed with Sirtis as she opened up on the issue. He remarked.
“Women are paid less than men almost everywhere in most countries in the world. And it is an inequity that has to be corrected”