JUNE 1999
Kate Mulgrew
"I deeply love to act"
With Star Trek: Voyager nearing the end of a busy season where a range of amazing stories have stretched the captain to her limits, the show's leading lady talks to us about life as Kathryn Janeway.
"She will always have to put the ship before any of her personal likes."
     Kate Mulgrew completed her junior year at New York University before deciding to devote herself full time to acting. She immediately landed the role of Mary Ryan in the ABC daytime drama "Ryan's Hope," and stayed with the series for two years. Then, aged 23, she starred in the series, "Kate Columbo," in a role created for her. The series can still be seen in syndication under the title "Kate Loves a Mystery."
Movie roles
     After this, Kate starred in several feature films, including "Love Spell: Isolt of Ireland" with Richard Burton, "A Stranger Is Watching" with Rip Torn, and "Throw Momma from the Train" with Danny deVito and Billy Crystal. 
     Kate returned to television as the star of the ABC drama "Heartbeat", which won a People's Choice Award for Best New Drama. Following this, she went on to co-star in the comedy series "Man of the People," alongside James Garner. She has also had roles in "Cheers" and "Murphy Brown" winning an award for the latter, where she played the part of an alcoholic anchorwomen.
Kate stepped onto the bridge of the U.S.S. Voyager just in time for the producers, who had lost several days of filming. 
Kate admits that although she's more than happy to tackle episodes where Janeway is an action hero, she prefers the ones that force her to deal with inner dilemmas. 
Difficult Times
VOYAGER'S fifth year has confronted Janeway with a wide variety of problems.
Janeway has faced the prospect of losing Seven several times this season - once to a virus, once to the Borg, and once to the Think Tank. 
In "Latent Image", Captain Janeway was forced to reconsider her attitude to the Doctor. 
In "Bride of Chaotica!," Janeway had to become Arachnia, Queen of the Spider people. 
In "Night" and "Timeless," the captain managed to get her crew quite a lot closer to the Alpha Quadrant. 
"She [Seven] has been altogether the fly in Janeway's ointment, and I think it's forced Janeway to rise to the occasion..."
The introduction of Seven of Nine revealed new depths to Captain Janeway's character, something that Kate feels has worked really well. 
"I knew they needed somebody with inherent command."
It seems that Janeway and Chakotay won't be developing a romantic relationship, but her first officer will still be the person she turns to when she's feeling low. 
During Star Trek: Voyager's hiatus in 1998, Kate Mulgrew didn't exactly take a break.She took the starring role in a Paramount Movie of the Week, visited Europe, and caught up with her two teenage sons. But she returned for the new season full of optimism and energy, and looking forward to helping make the show even better than before. "Last year was difficult, because it was exhausting, rigorous. By the end of the season I was just tapped out. I took my mother to Turkey; I went to Germany, and then I went to Israel, and then up the Aegean sea to the Turkish coast. And then I was offered this movie, a UPN movie of the week called 'Riddler's Moon.' I went to Luxembourg to do it, and something happened to me there which was not only cathartic, but was a sort of epiphany. 


Faith restored 
"I think I had begun to feel rather machine-like, but doing this movie, in which I play a farmer who's losing her son, I tapped into the real thing again, and it was as if I went into the gas station of creative love. I was completely replenished, and I realized while I was there that as much as I missed my children - and I did, sorely - that that is always a sacrifice. It completely restored my belief in my love to this craft. "I deeply love to act - it has been the ongoing power of my life. So I came back and I felt young, I felt blessed. I felt completely rejuvenated, physically. I think the first person I ran into here was Jeri Ryan, and I just sort of took her in my arms and said, "This is going to be a good season. This is going to be a great season." 

Part of that confidence was because Kate had great faith that Voyager would be in good hands with Brannon Braga in charge. "First of all, he's remarkably intelligent. He's dark, he's bright, he's very, very creative on unpredictable levels, and he has the mark of a great writer. He understands the voice of the character he's writing for". 

Getting comfortable
Kate was keen for the character to be given something to do on every level. Last season a little more humor crept in; even when Seven of Nine zapped a troublesome Hirogen, Janeway allowed herself a wry smile. And that's something we're going to see more of. "A lot of things kind of happen when you're relaxed, and now I'm fully relaxed." We've seen a little more romance too, with the handsome Kashyk in 'Counterpoint'. But have we seen the last of any possible relationship with the captain and her first officer, Chakotay? "It's had its chance. I think it was indicative of how the executive producers, and probably myself, feel about the command position. I think she will always have to put the ship before any of her personal likes. 

"I think we were hoping at one point, because the on-screen chemistry between us is so good, that something might develop. But when we reviewed this and really scrutinized it, it was thought best to keep the tension between them alive by not allowing them to become lovers." And Janeway was most definitely still the captain when she dealt with the devious Kashyk - despite a strong attraction, she didn't trust him for a moment 

Hard times
The rejunevated Kate had plenty to tackle right away, in the season opener "Night". The U.S.S. Voyager suddenly faced the prospect of an even longer journey home, and the captain was forced to take a close look at herself and the consequences of destroying the Caretaker's Array - an action that, four years earlier, left the ship and its crew marooned 70,000 light years from home. Janeway has been challenged on this by members of the crew in the past, but for the  first time the captain herself had a crisis. "She really questions having gotten this entire crew lost in the Delta Quadrant with  very little hope of getting home. They seem to be poised in a nebula, unable to get out of it, and she's struck by a very real depression, filled with guilt and self-recrimination. I think that's an important thing to see in Janeway, because I think loneliness in command is a very, very significant issue, and Brannon will investigate that. "I think Janeway's been blooming with confidence; it was time for her to falter in a most human and compelling way. She faces her loneliness, her guilt, her sadness, her terrible anxiety, her deep concern about the younger members of the crew ever having a life - her own life as her middle age approaches, and her capacity for love being disciplined on a constant level. This is why I want Brannon to really develop the relationship with Chakotay without them becoming lovers. I think it's very important that we see Janeway and Chakotay in intimate circumstances together, serving as one another's confidantes." 
Action hero
How does Kate feel about Janeway's less cerebral adventures, as in 'Year of Hell', where the captain becomes a real action hero? " I wouldn't say I'm over the moon about them. The episode I enjoy the most are the episodes that are most intellectually and emotionally challenging,where she's confronted with epic ideas and decisions or when one of her crew is endangered, and I love to see how that affects Janeway. For instance, in 'Night', there's a depression - how would she deal with that? How would she speak to Chakotay? How would she present herself to the crew? These are wonderful things for an actress, wonderful tools, and I think I'm most excited when I get to do stuff like that." 
Inner Strength
Despite this, Kate agrees the captain has to be seen as a hero. "But I think the most interesting heroes somethings reveal their courage in very unusual and subtle ways, I think Janeway's greatest valor lies in her personal dignity, her capacity to make big decisions at a moment's notice and to stick with them. Her absolute unerring sense that she will go down with the ship is necessary to save this crew. She has a big heart; she has a lion's heart. That's the legacy I'd like to leave behind with my captain." 

One of Janeway's big decisions in Season Four was bringing the Borg drone Seven of Nine on board,despite the reservations of many fo the crew - a decision that gave the captain a whole new set of problems. But, says Kate, "I think she's been very good for Janeway. She has been a foil, a challenge, a student, a danger. She's been altogether the fly in Janeway's ointment, and I think it's forced Janeway to rise to the occasion in a way that otherwise she wouldn't have felt compelled to do. "With Seven's childlike emotional state, Janeway has also virtually had to act as parent. "There's that in there too, which is a wonderful thing to play. Conversely, as a Borg she has a sophistication that Janeway lacks technically. So between them there is always the dynamic of uncertainty, the question of who's on top. It changes constantly, and that's what they were hoping for. I think it really works." 

The journey home
Alongside the underlying tension and conflict between the two characters, Janeway has developed a protective instinct toward the young Borg, and sees her as very much a member of the crew: someone who has as much right to be protected as any other person on board, whatever the cost. We saw the ultimate challenge to their relationship in 'Dark Frontier' with the Borg Queen vying for Seven's loyalty and ultimately seeing her return to her crewmates and Voyager after a dramatic rescue. 

That episode saw Voyager gain another 15 years of progress in their journey home, thanks to their stolen transwarp coil. What about the possibilities of a homecoming? "I heard subtle hints about the Alpha Quadrant. Promiximity lends itself to a lot of things. If we're within earshot of the Federation, the possibilities are endless. As long as we're in the Delta Quadrant, they've got to really knock themselves out to come up with good ideas every week. We'll see what they have in store for the end of the season." 

Taking care of the crew
Other things in store, Kate hoped, were developments of Janeway's relationships with other members of the crew: for example B'Elanna Torres, her chief engineer. Roxann Dawson was having a baby last season, and with the introduction of Seven and her effect on the ship, other character arcs were not so much to the fore. "[Season Four] was an exception. They did what I think they felt they needed to do, and I don't think that would be repeated. If anything, I think Brannon will restore Voyager to the essence of Star Trek, to its greatest intention: which is that it's a family lost in space, and every one of them has very important and significant stories to tell." 

The balance has indeed been redressed, and the captain has been able to interact with the other members of the crew: still a bit of conflict with B'Elanna - very often over Seven of Nine - and the need to discipline the headstrong Tom Paris, whom she sent to the brig at the end of 'Thirty Days.' Then, in 'The Disease', even that perfect officer Harry Kim had to be reprimanded. But humor came to the force in 'Bride of Chaotica!', which allowed Kate a fun role as Queen Arachnia in Paris and Kim's Captain Proton holodeck scenario. 

Looking back at the start of her time as Janeway, Kate says she had no qualms about taking  on a long run. "In the moment of being offered this job, I was too thrilled to question the ramifications of what is meant. I am delighted to have had this run." 

Pressure of work
 But being an actress - especially one who regularly gets home at midnight or even two o'clock in the morning - isn't without its problems for a woman with two teenage sons, aged 14 and 15, and a fiance, Tim Hagan. "I've been famous for saying that I'm finding this journey an excellent one, and I am because I love the show very, very much. But it is tough, Ian, the number one, is pushing my buttons, and it's important that he does. But I'm so used to a different relationship with him that I'm taking it personally." And Kate realize her work over the last four years has caused her to miss some of their growing up. " I won't lie to you. There has been a sorrow about missing them. But that's the trade-off. I knew that coming in." Famously, Kate came in after Genevieve Bujold, originally cast in the part, left after less than two days of shooting. But Kate was unhampered by the knowlegde of her predecessor's difficulties. "I think I was blissfully ignorant of just about everything. And I didn't know anything about Star Trek." This was an advantage, she thinks, as her take on Janeway was original. Nor was Kate encumbered by a rigid character outline from the producers. "It was enough to know that she was the captain. I knew they needed somebody with inherent command. They needed the essential characteristic of authority. You can't act that; it's just impossible." 
Janeway's former life
 There's obviously a lot of Kate in Janeway, but since she started in the role, executive producer Jeri Taylor has written a novelization of Janeway's backstory, 'Mosaic', which Kate read for a 'talking book' edition. Has the book given her any extra insight into the way to play the character? Or does Kate feel that it had been written based on what she was doing with the character? "I didn't actually let that affect me or inform me in any way. I had to make up my own backstory for Janeway, coming in. That's always the odd thing when you're dealing with the writer who created you. She did her backstory and I did mine. I rather enjoyed hers, but I didn't allow her to inform my portrayal of Janeway." And as for the backstory Kate made up for herself: "That's my secret." With such a rich character to play and such a dilemma to be solved for a ship and its crew, Kate is still totally fascinated and challenged by her role. With her own charm, calmness, and quiet air of authority, you can't help feeling that if Kate Mulgrew was in the center chair on the bridge of a starship, everyone would be in very good hands.