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April 1st, 2000
Have you ever wanted to meet someone so badly, that when you do, you nearly burst out in tears? That was I on April 1st, looking up at Kate Mulgrew.
Fifteen minutes after the supposed starting time the crowd was becoming impatient. Then the man filling the time on stage, who told some really bad jokes, blurred out of focus and Kate came out through the small doors and everyone no longer cared. She is such a gorgeous person, in both personality (from what we saw) and looks. She made everyone laugh and told us a little about what it is REALLY like behind the scenes of Star Trek. This included stories about ‘Weiner’ Thursdays (by Thursday the actors have had four long working days so things tend to get a little crazy) and her opinion of Jennifer Lien leaving and Jeri Ryan joining the cast. She also answered questions and I’m sure she would have gone on for hours if the organizers weren’t hurrying her up. I wish I could remember everything that was said so I could tell you all, but my memory has never been very good. I’ll try to write what I remember and hopefully I’ll remember more as I go along.
Kate started off telling us a little about herself. She was traveling with her husband, who sat next to her while she gave autographs, and her two teenage sons and nephew who we didn’t get to see. Because of her working hours she barely gets to see them, which I think is really sad and must make things extremely hard on her. She told us about how much she loves being Janeway, how she now owns that character and no one tells her what to do. She is the boss and proud and happy about it.
The thing that first touched me was when Kate said the greatest reward is knowing that she and her role make a difference in other people’s lives. She loves reading the letters and hearing from young women telling her how she is their inspiration and how she has changed their lives. Janeway is a role that she herself is so honoured to have been given. She seemed full of emotion and everyone could tell that she was sincere. Somewhere around here she began answering questions. I can only remember a few of them, but here are the main ones.
"What do you feel about being the mother of the crew?" Kate was asked. She said how much she loved it. Loved the family, loved her job, loved the people. This was one of the shortest answers she gave because she didn't need to say much more.
I put my hand up to ask a question. She pointed at me. I was so happy and nervous about being picked. She was looking right at me as I stuttered out my question. I welcomed her to Australia and to Melbourne and asked “Is there any memorable experiences that you’d like to share with us about filming Voyager?” She told us a bit about the people behind the Voyager characters including the relationship between Tim Russ and herself which seems to include many practical jokes. She only mentioned one of the practical jokes between them but from the sound of things there are so many more. This had everyone laughing. I’ll try and tell you what she said, but there is no way I can tell it as well as she did. By the way, it seems that when not in costume Tim Russ walks about the set in a towel and slippers, or half naked.
After a 15-16 hour day of filming, only Tim and Kate, along with the camera people, etc., were still on the set. Kate had to do a scene where she was crying over Tuvok. It was into the last hour. She started the tears, started the talking… *SPLAT*, a spitball hit her right in the forehead. She looked up and Tim, who had done it, was splitting his sides laughing. She turned around and said something like “It is late, I am tired, and I am supposed to be crying over you. Don’t do it again or else...” Tim was still laughing and saying “I’m scared, whatcha gonna do? Or else what? I’m shaking in my boots.” She starts the scene again…* SPLAT* again, this time on the side of her face. “If you do it again I’ll kill you” she warned. He was still laughing at her as she again started the scene. Again, *Splat*, right in her eye. “You’ll pay, big time”, she said to Tim. Of course by now he and the rest of the people in the room are rolling about the floor laughing. In between breathes Tim is saying things like “Ohhhh….., I’m a dead man am I? What are ya gonna do? I’m gonna pay big time, I’m so scared.” A bit later, Kate pulled over one of the wardrobe people. “You know what the deal is right? I own you. If I don’t work, you don’t work, so you want to do me this favour.” He agreed. “I want you to take every piece of clothing out of Tim’s caravan. Leave nothing but a sock. Don’t forget to take his keys and his wallet.” The sock was to cover his ‘Mr. Happy’. The weekend passed and everyone came back to work. “Hi Tim”, she said smiling “did you have a nice weekend?” He smiled back. “Hi Kate, I did thank you, what about yourself?” Their conversation ended quickly, and Kate went for Hair and Makeup (she hates hair and makeup, so it was quick… it always is). ‘Something is wrong’ she thought. He was in such a good and cheeky mood. She headed for her trailer. Switching on the lights she looked up. It was still dark so at first the light blinded her. When she could finally see again she looked up. Every spare section of wall was covered with pictures of Tim’s bare backside, from every possible angle. There were things like Kiss this until I die’ under the pictures. There was not one spare space on the walls. She turned back and smiled at me on completion of her story, then looked for her next question.
It was about John de Lancie. John plays “Q” in the various Star Trek series. They are really close friends. Kate told us how she hates talking on the phone, it’s always brief; just what, when and where. She said she must sound rude but she cannot help it. But when she is on the phone with John two hours pass easily, and they laugh about nothing and everything. Kate mentioned that the writers have said they crossed the line with “Q” when they wrote the episode 'The Q and The Grey'. Kate doesn't feel that, but the writers say they have a hard time writing about his omnipotence. But if Kate has her say “Q” will be back before the end of the series. When Kate first auditioned for Janeway she hadn't seen one episode of Star Trek. John had to literally tie her to a chair to get her to watch it. She was glad about it though. When she went in for the part, all of the actresses were trying to act like a captain. Kate, with no clue made her own character, and in a way she feels it helped her a lot.
Kate says she tries very hard. She is a 'Worker'. She goes home and studies the scripts for two hours. This is so she can put emotion into certain scenes and knows what is going on. She said that you can tell which actors don't study. They are the same in every scene and they don't put in any emotion. Kate did a great impersonation of a boring actor just speaking the lines, playing it safe.
Kate was asked what she felt about the departure of Jennifer Lien and the gaining of Jeri Ryan? She seemed to become very choked up when speaking about Jennifer, they must have been close. She was very annoyed that they took her off. They had no reason other than to raise the ratings. She feels that they hired Jeri for her “T & A” (her top and bottom). She said that Jeri seems like a very isolated person, nice, but keeps to herself. Kate said they weren’t as close as she and Jennifer and she misses Jennifer. She moved on and spoke a little about the upcoming episode where Jennifer returns to voyager. *Spoiler Warning*- The writers wrote that Kes, aged quite a bit, comes back in an episode called 'Fury. Kes blames Janeway for everything. Kate said that it was a very hard episode for her to do and seemed sad that they wrote her that way.
Next Kate was asked about the episode ‘Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy’. Kate said that she loved doing episodes like that and ‘Bride of Chaotica’. She did an impression of the scene in the ready room when Janeway put The Doctor’s hand on her behind. She says that those roles are such a relief to do and are always lots of fun.
The last thing I can remember, and she said we could quote her, but I don’t remember exactly, was about Hollywood. I wish I had taken notes. Kate hates how women over 40 are no longer eligible of making it there. She hates how the women have to be about 12 years old to be interesting to 50 year old men. “Women get more interesting with age,” she stated. She hates how Hollywood counts out so many people and the reasons for it.
Kate signed each picture, then looked up and smiled at the people they were for. She smiled for pictures and even posed for one with a teddy bear. When it came to my turn she thanked me for my question. She has such a lovely smile, and her face is exactly the same as on the show. If I didn’t know her age, there is no way I would know that she is 44. She looks a lot younger, I’d guess about 34 or less. I was there until she signed the last autograph. Nearing the end her smile wasn’t as big, she had signed a few hundred autographs so no one could blame her. As she stood up to leave she waved at everyone, her smile as radiant as when she first entered the room. She had one last glance at her fans and exited the room.
I always saw Kate and her character Janeway as my inspiration. Here she is in life and her character. I used that to put my life in a better direction. Her strength, independence, kindness and the way she lights up the screen in every episode has brightened my life and helped me to see. She and her character Janeway, have helped me to see the opportunities out there for women and for our future as the human race (with help from Star Trek in general). If it weren’t for that I would not be where I am today. Since the first episode I saw of Voyager she has been my #1favourite, and now, after having the rare opportunity to see her in person, I still feel the same way, only more so. She has a way of making people feel special, the fans. She radiates confidence and love, and to anyone else with the opportunity to meet her, I urge you greatly to do so. I will never forget the day I met Kate Mulgrew and someday I hope to meet her again. It was a day to remember forever.