Crossing Star Marina Sirtis on Cold War Film & Reliving the Experience

When Marina Sirtis was cast in Crossing, things came full circle, given her personal experience at the end of the Cold War. Her show Star Trek: The Next Generation tackled various timeless, culturally relevant subjects, including authoritarian regimes. Directed by Arthur Ian, the film follows the final years of the Cold War when a Soviet family splinters along East/West lines. Andrei (Mesrop Tsaghikyan), a free-spirited teenager, leaves the USSR to follow his dream of becoming a successful businessman in the United States. Ultimately, Andrei's (Rudolf Martin) dreams come to a halt 20 years later when the Great Recession shatters his new world. Forced to reunite with his family, including his eccentric mother (Sirtis), and caught between present and past struggles, Andrei reexamines the values from the life he left behind. Sirtis spoke to Bleeding Cool about working with the writer-director on his feature debut, the film's timing given current geopolitics, and how she owns a piece of Cold War history.

Crossing Star Marina Sirtis on Cold War Film & Reliving the Experience
Marina Sirtis in "Crossing" (2019). Image courtesy of Off Shore Productions

How 'Crossing' Tells a Personal Story

Bleeding Cool: What intrigued you about Crossing?
Sirtis: I like movies that say something, and when I read the script, I realized there was a lot of ignorance. There was a lot of stuff I didn't know, and I'm quite well-informed. I wasn't aware of what I thought I knew about Armenia. I knew it was in the Soviet bloc, but I didn't know they were made to speak Russian instead of their mother tongue. The Russian control over them was complete. As someone interested in history, it was interesting to be involved in something like that.

What was it like working with Arthur Ian for his directorial feature debut?
It was his story. He had come from that part of the world, which was autobiographical. He's a very compelling and dedicated person. He's serious but not anal or anything, but he's got a fun side. He cared about this project that came across to me. I remember we met in a coffee shop on Melrose, and within about 10 minutes, I knew I would work on this project.

Crossing Star Marina Sirtis on Cold War Film & Reliving the Experience
Marina Sirtis in "Crossing" (2019). Image courtesy of Off Shore Productions

Since it's been a while since to film 'Crossing' and given the current geopolitical situation with Russia's war with Ukraine, does it feel more timely?
The timeliness is a coincidence. It wasn't planned in any shape or form. I hope people watch it because we must remember what it was like before the [Berlin] Wall came down. We must remember what it was like for these people living under the Russian thumb. We have to make sure that doesn't happen again and support Ukraine. We have to make sure that [Russian President Vladamir] Putin doesn't succeed in this because he wants to rebuild the Soviet bloc, and we can't allow that to happen.

'Star Trek: The Next Generation' came out near the end of the Cold War, and events were playing out in that time frame. Can you compare how that experience was then to reliving it [in 'Crossing']?
The thing about the original 'Star Trek' and 'TNG,' which got lost after we were done, unfortunately, was that we were doing a morality play every week, especially at the beginning. That was one of Gene Roddenberry's missions that we could watch the show for entertainment value. On the other hand, he did have something to say, and we had something to say. We addressed things like authoritarianism, dictatorship, and all those kinds of issues on 'TNG.' That was the part that made the first show and our show a little bit special and different. I remember I was in Berlin right after the wall came down and got a piece of the wall. It was so moving, and I suppose as a European, it probably affected me a little bit more than possible if I was living in America at the time. It was a moving experience to be at that place where people are being killed trying to get freedom.

Crossing Star Marina Sirtis on Cold War Film & Reliving the Experience
Rudolf Martin in "Crossing" (2019). Image courtesy of Off Shore Productions

Circling back on 'Crossing,' could you tell me what it was like with your co-stars?
Funny enough, I ran into Rudolf Martin, who plays my son [Andrei]. I recently ran into him at a convention [laughs], and I hadn't seen him since we shot it. It was so lovely to see him. He does a wonderful job in the movie and is special. One of the main things I was concerned about when we were filming was the Russian. When I met with Arthur, he said, "You've got to do a Russian accent and speak Russian." I thought, "I do accents. That's what I do, along with a cup of cockney. When you do proper cockney in London, you should be able to do accents because you would be limiting yourself to the kind of work you can do if you can't. When he said Russian, I just thought, "I've done Farsi, Italian, French, and all the accents."

I thought this would be lovely, but it was so bloody hard [laughs]. It was almost like they weren't enough vowels in Russian words, making it extremely difficult. Fortunately, there were a couple of Russian speakers on set, and sometimes I had to tap inside the lines for me, and I had to shoot immediately, like phonetically copying what they were doing. That was interesting and challenging. The other thing that was quite funny was that Arthur was so apologetic; he was like, "We have to make you 20 years older in the film. I hope you don't mind that." I was like, "No, that's fine. I get to be 20 years younger in the earlier parts, so that's cool." It was quite fun in lots of ways.

Off Shore Productions' Crossing, which also stars Teri Reeves, Kathleen Gati, Alex Veadov, Isidora Goreshter, Lily Vardan, and Ilia Volok, is available on digital, including AppleTV+ and Prime Video.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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