The Utimate Unofficial Episode Guide To Voyager
WHAT KATIE DID
It's been a long seven years, but Kate Mulgrew tells Dave Golfer why she was determined there was no sex on the Voyage home For Captain Kathryn Janeway
Barely four weeks after filming her final scene as Captain Kathryn Janeway Kate Mulgrew admits over the phone to the SFX office that she hasn't quite acclimatised to her new work-free life yet. "I'm having a lot of mixed emotions with Voyager ending," she admits, sounding just a little dazed, "but that's only natural. I'm really feeling happier than I have in a long time. I think that's because I'm getting time to spend with my sons, which was sorely missing in my life. And I'm having all kinds of, uh....I dunno, adjustments to this strange feeling of not having to go to work."
The first thing that strikes you about Mulgrew is her incredible politeness. The interview starts late because of a mix up about the time difference between LA and Britain. "That's OK I understand," she dismisses the cock-up on our half without an iota of irritation. She calls me by name no less than 28 times throughout the interview. She reacts to criticism not with irritation but interest. You can tell she's aware of criticism of the show, but is unyielding in her defence of it, while admitting it wasn't flawless. More than anything she relished the opportunity to go on-record and say how proud she was to have been part of this extraordinary seven year experience. And you never doubt it for a second.
SFX: So how long do you intend not going to work?
KM: I really don't know. There's a play there talking to me about. If I agree to that, that would probably happen in the Fall. I'm looking forward to a summer of not working.
SFX: Do you feel, like Janeway, that you've come home?
KM: I do in a way. That's pretty...true, yeah. I do. It was a way of life, Voyager. I wasn't prepared for that. No-one really briefed me about that. I didn't know how difficult it would be to juggle both aspects of my life. Luckily my sons live in LA. But we would miss some crucial hours together. That's par for the course - I understand that, and I tried to explain that to them. I think the difficult part was having them assimilate that information, because they grew up during this series. It was seven tough years for the kids. But it's behind us now, and it's something I'm very proud of. I really loved playing her.
SFX: What do you actually think of Janeway?
KM: I thought she was terrific. But you must never forget that I crafted her. In the beginning it was just basically an outline. I had to flesh her out. And once I established command which I think was the single most difficult task - after that the love affair sort of evolved.
SFX: What was the main thing you brought to Janeway?
KM: Humanity. Her flaws.
SFX: Her flaws?
KM: Yes! She's a flawed human being. The compelling thing about Janeway is that she could be every woman except at her core she's a lot braver than most. But she is in constant search of her humanity.
SFX: Sometimes it seemed that Tuvok and Chakotay were the two sides of Janeway's conscience. One arguing for the Starfleet way, the other to go with your emotions...
KM: That's very true
SFX: Were there any times when you thought - when you had scenes with those guys - when you thought that they had really valid points, and you'd want to go back and rewrite the scripts? Didn't you ever think "Bugger the Prime Directive - I want to make the populist choice"?
KM: No question about it. And there are times as Janeway I believe they were making valid points. You know, she is very headstrong, very willful. And she does not allow insubordinate behaviour. So even if I don't quite believe in my own theories [she giggles] I will probably push it forwards. In the end it's Janeway who, in your words, buggers the Prime Directive more than anyone else. She turned into a pretty passionate explorer. And she did some very, you know, interesting and unprecedented things as a Captain.
SFX: I noticed you dropped the word "assimilate" into the conversation. Would you have used a word like that before the series?
KM: No! Full marks to you. Or tachyon emission either for that matter. In the last couple of years my husband would just sit there and laugh at me. He'd say you really know what you're talking about. And I'd say I'm sorry you don't...
SFX: At what point were you happiest with your performance? Did it improve all along?
KM: No question about it. The seventh season was the best.
SFX: Why do you think that?
KM: First of all the writing was excellent. They were all very vigorous. There was a confidence the actors came to display. Everything came together, which is both ironic and [laughs] slightly sad. But we've always had good shows. And those with the moral dilemmas were always the best.
SFX: What did you think of "Endgame"?
KM: Suffice to say I think it's a wonderful story. Of course it will be controversial for some, it won't satisfy everybody. But it satisfied me. It's a tour de force for Janeway. I play two Janeways. So that's essentially the story. And there's a really splendid, provocative, wild confrontation with the Borg Queen who was played by Alice Krige, who I thought was a really terrific actress. Oh...professional, passionate.
SFX: Where there any other guest stars who you admired?
KM: Well, one of my best friends, John De Lancie, always galvanised both the company and myself. Always lifted the material. We would really have fun. I think the element of fun is crucial. I was very surprised in the last two seasons by some of the young guest stars, and how good they were... James Read in "Workforce" - he was terrific. Mark Harelik in "Counterpoint" - wonderful, wonderful actor. My friend Kevin Tighe came on in "11.59". And of course whenever I played with Bob Picardo it's like being with a guest actor. He brings so much vigour and so much inventiveness to it, he's always so kind and pleasant. He doesn't have a complaining bone in his body.
SFX: Some of the highlights of the show were Doctor/Janeway scenes. Like the end of "Flesh and Blood".
KM: Oh wasn't that good. That last scene...I have a great respect for Bob Picardo. And also that we were allowed to take that story line and really develop. You know, Janeway was nothing if not arrogant regarding the EMH.
SFX: When John De Lancie was in an episode, he seemed to inspire the whole cast to genius light comedy performances.
KM: Oh no question about it. Absolutely no question about it. That's who he is. And that's who Q is. And also the writers step up to the task. You have to write wittier dialogue. It's all about that kind of repartee. That badonage. And I longed for more of that as well. But it's really not the essence of SF.
SFX: Dunno. I think the humour can work as well as the high drama. The Captain Proton episodes were great.
KM: Weren't they fun! That was great for Robbie. Another wonderful comedian.
SFX: With three Robert's on set did you have to come up with nicknames?
KM: You don't want to go there...
SFX: Why not?
KM: I have my little names for each of them.
SFX: Go on...
KM: I call Robert Picardo Roberto. I call Ethan Phillips the love of my life. I call Tim everything but Tim because he is always getting me into trouble. He's a very, very, very naughty person.
Robert Beltran - I was always very...was always Robert. Jeri Ryan was always Jeri. Garrett was always Garrett. I think the ones I was closest to were Robbie, Robert Picardo and Roxann.
SFX: I hear you've been recently married...
KM: Just over two years. To a remarkable man. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio. He may decide to run for the governorship. I live in three places. I have a house in Los Angeles, one in Cleveland and an apartment in New York.
SFX: Oh the high life...
KM: Not really. I didn't think that LA would become my home. I came here as a pit stop because my then husband had taken a job in a large theatre here. And this is where our children were born. And then life being what it is it just unfolded that I stayed. Had you said to me 20 years ago that I'd be living in LA for 18 years I would have said "No way!"
SFX: Are you planning to stay there now?
KM: Well I'll stay until my son Alexander completes high school and then I will go to my husband.
SFX: So how do you work it at the moment? How often do you see your husband?
KM: It's very hard. It's a masterpiece of choreography. I'm here for a few weeks then I go to Cleveland for a couple of weeks. Then New York where a lot of my family live and my best friend. Who is very very sick at the moment. So I am doing a lot of that sort of think this summer. It seems to have been a sad couple of years for my loved ones in that respect. I think it's probably my age. I think that happens for all of us. When we reach a certain age, when you're in your 40's everybody else gets older too, don't they? It's devastating because inside we don't believe were older, do we?
SFX: Was there a big celebration on the last day of filming?
KM: No, there was nothing. It was quite devastating. There was a wrap party which publicity threw us which was quite nice and I took that opportunity to personally say goodbye to every member of the crew, but then I had to go back to work the next day, by myself. And at the end of the day they called a wrap, the lights went out on the bridge, they started to dismantle the set immediately. And Bob Picardo, I just happened to pass by, he was cleaning his trailer, and he looked at me, and he put his arms around me and I looked at him and said "That's that then".
SFX: It was the most criticised Trek show...
KM: I know...[ruefully - as if she is expecting this question]
SFX: Why do you think that was?
KM: Why do YOU think that was?
SFX: I have my theories...
KM: I would think naturally it got criticised because of a female captain. Next Generation was so successful and so loved by the fans, the stakes were very very high. And we were being constantly compared as in a horse race. But television is not a horse race. Each series is a very isolated affair. And I didn't think about it at all. But when I did I'm sure I felt competitive about it. I'm a bit competitive by nature. But I never felt upset about it. And somebody also somebody brought something up which may be valid. Good Star Trek is about the ship going out to explore, as opposed to a ship being lost, and having to explore to survive. And we were in that situation which immediately flipped the predictable and we had to establish new rules. And whenever there's change I think people become uncomfortable. What is familiar is what they have grown to love. But I think in the end what one can say with some conviction is that if they love true SF their allegiance and their fidelity would be the same for Voyager as it would be for anything. And thank God that each series is very different. If not it'd be dull...
SFX: Did you ever watch Deep Space Nine?
KM: No, I didn't. I caught bits of it. And only ever caught bits of Next Generation. I think that was good for me. Only because I took Janeway very seriously and I didn't want my senses assaulted by information the I probably couldn't use.
SFX: Were there any points when you went to the producers and said "I want to do this with Janeway"?
KM: I did. Yes, I did. I was very much a part of "Endgame". This last season I was quite involved. I would have to say that I was quite involved throughout. I felt very strongly about my respective relationships with the senior staff on the ship. And I fought very hard for each one of those relationships. That's really what I spent seven years doing. Where am I going with B'Elanna? Where am I going with Mr Paris? What's up with Tuvok? This great friendship - but we haven't seen it! I would say to them, "Let's see it."
And certain things I was adamant about. Her intimate life. I said, let us not grandstand with this one. It's not who Janeway is. They put her in an extremely perilous situation. She's acutely aware of it. Her mission is to get this crew home. She cannot be gratifying her needs at every turn. In fact, we see a sublimation of those needs. And I would like to see her loneliness as a result. So they were quite good about that, although it was very controversial at the beginning because Janeway and Chakotay had such great chemistry.
SFX: If you hadn't been in command, who do you think Janeway would have gone for?
KM: Oh, Chakotay...It wasn't the top priority. Although it was a very important subtext for Janeway and myself to play. All the time. I was very interested that everybody else has a very full and rich life. And I was prepared to sacrifice that. But I think at some point I crossed over. And if there is an episode that is missing it could be that one, an episode in which it would have become clear to Janeway that she would never have children, that she would miss this extraordinary opportunity in her life. And that she had done so for all the right reasons but none the less she would find it emotionally, deeply disturbing. And that one we didn't get to because the writers believed quite strongly in the heroine of the Captain. The Captain could not be weak.
SFX: What do you like to relax to?
KM: I love to cook. I can probably cook just about anything I set my mind to. And I am a big entertainer. Throwing a dinner party is the greatest joy there is. I love to read. I could happily get in my bed with a stack of books and not leave. The book store is a great happiness to me. And I love being with my family, I adore being with my family. Adore it.
SFX: What are your ambitions?
KM: [long pause] That's difficult. My ambitions seem to have changed. I'm not as ambitious as I once was. But I would say that I am even more committed as an actress. So go figure that out....
I would say therefore that most of my paths would be to the theatre, where I am free, challenged and very much at home. That's where I began and that's where I'm headed, I guess, but I need a period of reflection. And as I said to my best friend yesterday I'm beginning to once again sense the sweetness of life, and its pretty astounding.
SFX: Why did that go while you where on Voyager?
KM: Well you don't have time for the sweetness of life when you are working 15,16,17 hours. You only have time to devote yourself to the work in hand. And I did that. And I am very glad that I did that. I do not bemoan that because I loved the work. But its wonderful to drive down Sunset Boulevard at sunset, then stopping with my son and playing Nat King Cole and setting out for a little walk.
Many Thanks to a Totally Kate contributor for the magazine and typing out the article!
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