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STAR TREK: VOYAGER - Kate Mulgrew, Part Two
Trek's Captain Janeway reflects on her castmates, her favorite episodes and the series' upcoming finale.
By Anna L. Kaplan
December 04, 2000
Captain Janeway, a role that Kate Mulgrew had to fight for, that first went to Genevieve Bujold, has come to define a large part of her adult life. Despite long hours, contractual disputes and rumors of tension between herself and co-star Jeri Ryan, who plays Seven of Nine, Mulgrew possesses Janeway and Star Trek: Voyager
in a way no one else can. As she thinks about saying farewell to Janeway, Mulgrew realizes ending the series this season won't be easy.
'This is going to be a tough one to say goodbye to, I'll tell you that,' says Mulgrew. 'I've struggled over the years in my life as an actress with saying goodbye to characters I have adored. It's been one of my great flaws. I can't seem to say goodbye very well or with any kind of finality. So you can imagine how I am going to deal with this woman, whom I not only love but whom I now own, probably beyond her own dimensions. I'll undoubtedly carry that with me for a long, long time to come.'
Saying goodbye to her fellow cast won't be easy, either. 'Over and above [saying goodbye to Janeway] will be the very difficult thing of saying goodbye to this ensemble, for whom I have the greatest affection and respect,' says Mulgrew. 'Some of them I love very much. I've made some pretty remarkable friends. I know that life is about to change in a very brutal way, and I try to prepare myself for it. I am quite anxious now to open the next chapter of my life. But I know what it is, and how terribly bittersweet it is going to be to end this all. I'll be an emotional mess weeks before it's over.'
Mulgrew always praises her castmates, and particularly relishes their comedic talents both on and off screen. Season seven has already offered up humor in episodes like 'Body and Soul,' which Mulgrew enjoyed. ''Body and Soul' was fun,' she says. 'Tuvok [Tim Russ] is undergoing the Pon farr
again. I always like it when Tuvok gets horny. It gets really interesting on the bridge.'
She's also enjoying the upcoming 'Prophecy,' a Klingon episode in which Voyager
meets up with a generational Klingon ship while B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) is still pregnant. 'The one we are about to do is pretty wild, 'Prophecy,' with one hundred, two hundred Klingons,' says Mulgrew. 'They believe that B'Elanna is going to save them. She is carrying Jesus Christ in her womb according to Klingon philosophy. It puts us in a real jam, as you can imagine. But it's full of a lot of whimsy. I love it when there is levity, to counterbalance what is always so terribly serious, and must be, by its nature. There are laughs in this one.'
As for her fellow actors, they all know how to make her laugh. 'Some of them are just completely outrageous,' she chuckles. 'Robbie McNeill [Tom Paris] is outrageous. He shouldn't be allowed in public. I am going to call his wife tonight and tell her. Robert Beltran [Chakotay], you have no idea how irreverent he is, how mad he is, and Robert Picardo [the Doctor] with his craziness. Roxann makes me laugh. When she laughs, she's just gone. That always happens in the briefing room. There she is, and then she cries because she is laughing so hard, and then it's all over. Ethan Phillips [Neelix], who I would give my heart for, is always at the center of some lunacy. All of them, they are all great. We are so blessed to have this chemistry. It just doesn't work like this.'
And what about the legendary Tim Russ and his antics? 'I don't even discuss him because of that,' laughs Mulgrew. 'Am I there every midnight watching him do some unspeakable act? I am going to write a book about all of the things these guys have done to me over the years. Then, I will be canonized, because they are so bad. They get me. They know they have got me, because I am just a hopeless wreck when I start to laugh, and then they know I am done.'
The ability to make Mulgrew laugh is one of the things that contributes to the Chakotay-Janeway onscreen chemistry. Exploration of that relationship was one of Voyager
's missed opportunities in Mulgrew's opinion, an opinion that is shared by many fans. 'It's a wonderful chemistry,' says Mulgrew. 'You might be surprised to know that he just kills me; Robert Beltran makes me laugh so. All of that was kind of missing. Beltran himself makes me laugh, so they could have really built that in. He is the one who could exalt her mood and lighten her up, he knows her so well, the intricacies of her nature. I think that we could have investigated the Chakotay and Janeway relationship with a little more incisiveness, could have taken it further.
'I am not talking about romantically. I am talking about intimately. What is the nature of their friendship? How deeply do they need each other? How have they come to rely on one another? Do they love one another? Those things I think could have been played with more. But there is very little time. You are talking about 48 minutes. It's a science fiction show. We usually have to deal with our A and B plots pretty thoroughly. So that's why I suppose it was a bit neglected.'
Mulgrew has very few regrets beyond that unexplored relationship, things that she missed during Voyager
's seven-year course. She does say, 'I think they could have pushed the gender thing. They could have pushed the envelope with my being a woman in ways that I am not entirely sure they did. Of course they were honoring Roddenberry's concept that we transcend gender. But at the same time, I think it would have been fun if upon occasion she'd come up against a misogynist who had equal power to hers. They could have really played that one out. But we really never did that. I regret that, and perhaps that's in the future. I don't know. They may have that up their sleeve. All in all I've been a pretty busy cookie, so I don't think I've had any time for regrets.'
Over the years Captain Janeway had the opportunity to interact with some special visitors to Voyager
, which in turn allowed Mulgrew the chance to act with some of her friends. She loved 'Death Wish' from Voyager
's second season, which guest starred her buddy John de Lancie, as well as Jonathan Frakes and Gerrit Graham. She also enjoyed '11:59,' in which Mulgrew got to play the part of her relative Shannon O'Donnell at the turn of the millennium.
'Of course the great joy of that was to play opposite my dear friend, my sons' godfather, Kevin Tighe,' recalls Mulgrew. 'I loved the notion of going back to the beginning of Janeway. Who created Janeway and where did she come from? What stuff did she come from? The evolution of that, and the revelation of that history, was intriguing to me. It was terrifically liberating to get out of the 24th century and get back to the 20th for a minute. [Director] David Livingston did a great job with that.'
Another guest star Mulgrew thoroughly was John Savage, who played Captain Ransom in 'Equinox,' the two-part episode that ended the fifth season and opened the sixth. 'Those two episodes were really good,' says Mulgrew. '[They] really drew on Janeway's insecurities and her savagery as well. Her commitment to Starfleet is so passionate, and to find that there was a parallel ship behaving in this manner was so wildly disconcerting to her, that she actually lost it on a lot of little levels, and then had to re-stabilize herself. So it was great and wonderful to play with him.'
Mulgrew's favorite episode, however, would have to be the romantic and mysterious fifth-season show, 'Counterpoint.' The episode featured a suspenseful duel between Janeway and Inspector Kashyk (Mark Harelik) of the Devore Imperium. Counterpoint' I loved,' exclaims Mulgrew. 'In fact, dramaticallyand if I were to handpick the most gratifying to playit probably would be 'Counterpoint.' 'Counterpoint' was such a waltz, and so well-written by Joe Menosky. Imagine how terrific that was for me to play.
'I have always admired Mark Harelik, and when they hired him, I just about threw a party. This guy, whom I have seen on the stage all my life, really pulled that off. That's the kind of guy Janeway could have fallen in love with. He matched her. The fact that it was 'Hitchcock' made it so compelling. It was outstanding in my memory.'
Thinking beyond Voyager
, Mulgrew says, 'I am quite looking forward to getting on with the rest of my life. I'm lucky in this regard. I am a forty-five year old woman, and I've had a very good career.'
Most immediately, Mulgrew is looking forward to focusing her attention on her two sons, Ian and Alexander, and her husband, Ohio politician Tim Hagan, whom she married two years ago. '[I'll be a]ttending to my marriage, which has really not been easy these last couple of years,' says Mulgrew. 'My husband has made extraordinary sacrifices. I am just going to see to it that all of the needs of this marriage are met.' And, she adds laughing, 'As soon I am finished making sure that is okay, I am going back to the theater. I've got a pretty full life. I am just going to live it.'Visit our Star Trek Fandomain!Purchase Star Trek merchandise in the Fandom Store!