April 2, 2000
Reported by Mel
Many THANKS for letting me post it!
Kate Mulgrew took centre stage at 3:35 PM, in my own words "time stood still, nothing else mattered from that point on until she stopped talking"... I was transfixed, didn't want to miss one facial expression, one look, one word... she was great.
Kate came through the side doors of the convention centre to a loud thunder of applause; she walked down the side, grasping hands of fans as she went all the while smiling. She took the stage waving and smiling.
Kate: “Hello everyone, can I ask you all something, I have a serious question to ask you all, have any of you seen my children, we arrived here 5 days ago and I haven't seen them since. I got a call from my oldest the other night and he said, "Mom, I regret to inform you that we will not be joining you for dinner this evening". And I said, "Oh really, what are you doing?” And he said, "We are having fun, see you later"... "I thought gee, thanks have fun without me, like I can’t have fun, and since that time I have not heard nor seen my children, if any of you see three teenage boys, please tell them to come home".
Kate: “You have a wonderful city. Sydney is just beautiful. I'm so happy to be here. We went down to Melbourne yesterday, that's a lovely city as well, but nothing beats Sydney. So how is everyone?”
Audience cheers, hoots and hollers.
Kate: “Look at all these faces, hands up those of you who were in Melbourne yesterday.” About four hands went up. “Good to see you again.”
Kate: "You know, I love Paramount and the organization and the people I work with (Kate got all emotional and hesitated while she collected herself), however, I don't know Jeri Ryan very well, it's going to be very difficult when Voyager ends, I'll miss them dreadfully".
Kate: "Do you know how the studio works, where the trailers are put, there are two lots, in lines.... and Robbie McNeill and I are neighbours, there's about 10 feet between our doors, so when my door is open I can see into his trailer, so we became friends rather quickly, which is always nice when you work with people as closely as we do".
Kate: “I'll tell you how I got the part of Janeway, it's quite an interesting story actually, would you like to hear it?”
Kate: “My agent called me, I was in New York at the time, he said "Kate get yourself down to this audition, it’s for a new Star Trek series, it's going to be big.” I said, "Star what, what's Star Trek?” He said, "Trust me, it's going to be huge, get yourself down there.” I said, "Okay.” So I got myself in a cab, went out in a massive rainstorm to audition for a series that I had no idea about. I was totally unprepared and felt that I didn't perform at my best and I even apologised to the casting director for my "bad" form, it was dreadful.
Today I even consider that audition to be the worst audition I have ever done. After that audition I met the love of my life for lunch (referring to her now husband Tim Hagan) - I had the audition script with me, he grabbed it, said, "what's this." And I said, "Oh just some new show they’re doing, something about Trek.” He said. "Star Trek". I said, "You know it.” He said, "Yes, it's huge". Tim read the script and looked at me and said, "You’re going to get this part". And I said "Don't be silly.... you think so?" He said, "Yep, this is you, you’re going to get it". I didn't give it much thought after that at all until I heard that Geneveive Bujold had landed the role and thought to myself, "well, you didn't get it", then I got a call from my agent telling me that after two days of shooting the pilot episode Ms. Bujold had quit.
He said, "She quit, she felt it wasn't for her and now THEY’RE DESPERATE." I was thinking, "How wonderful, thank you very much, now they’re desperate, that didn’t make me feel much better, being called in as a desperate measure. I said, "Thanks a lot." My agent persuaded me to go down and audition. I was sick, very sick. I was having my first truly Zen moment, the only Zen moment I've ever had with the flu and by this time I didn't care if I got the part. When you’re that sick, you’re sort of high on your own phlegm and don't care. So I went down there, in the waiting room there were all these wonderful women, actresses that I respected and admired and I thought, "Not a chance, I don't stand a chance". They called me in and there were about 10 men in suits at a table. I said, "Hello, how you doing?” There was no pity or compassion in them. They told me how they would like me to read and I told them that I would like to improvise, they said, "We don't improvise, we would rather you do it our way.” I said, "I will do it my way however, if you are intimidated by my talent I'll do it your way, but I'm sure you will correct me if I do it wrong". Then as I did the three monologues I saw a light dawn in one of the suit’s eyes, and that light was saying, I may have a job tomorrow.”
Kate: “Like I said by this time I didn't care, 103 degree fever, etc. I read the part and they asked me to wait outside and I said, "Thank you, I'm sick, I’m going home, good luck gentlemen" and left!!”
Kate: “Next day I heard nothing; two days went by, still nothing. I thought to myself, "They’ve hired a man to do the job". After three days I arrive home that evening and my Spanish maid of 14 years and my two sons were waiting for me on the front porch telling me that I should listen to my messages. I told my maid, "In 14 years you have never asked me to listen to my messages” and she said, "Senorita Kate, you musta listen to your amessages, it is most a importanta". My sons were like, "Yeah MOM you gotta listen to your messages". So we all go inside and there are 5 messages; the first couple are "hello my friend, how are you?” etc. and then on the fifth message, it was Rick Berman, "Kate, it's Rick Berman here, Executive Producer of Star Trek Voyager, I just wanted to say, "Welcome Aboard Captain".”
Audience cheers with applause.
Kate: “I grabbed my sons and my maid, got down on our knees and said, "Thanks be to God", then we crawled over to where the champagne was to celebrate.” Kate mimics them crawling over to get champagne as if they hadn't had a drink in days.
Kate: “The studio was still a little on edge about fan reaction to a female Captain, like my two breasts could have been the most daunting things in Star Trek, it was amazing, they had to take a risk didn't they, as you do in television, you know."
Laughter from audience.
Kate: “Rick Kolbe had spoken to me about why Geneveive Bujold had left; she felt that it wasn't for her after two days. She had the grace and the fortitude and the courage to face that fact. Janeway just didn't fit her like she should, like a glove if you are truly passionate about something. Apparently Ms. Bujold sat in the Captain’s Chair and would say: (Kate says this in her most effective French accent) – “Ongarge!!” After 2 takes, 5 takes, 10 takes - Action: “Ongarge!!” By the 15th take, still, “Ongarge!!” It wasn't working, not only did Genevieve say "Ongarge", but she also said "Au revoir" so they parted company on the second day of shooting... and her departure became my good fortune!”
Kate: “On the first day of shooting, I was terrified, 50 suits lined up behind the camera on the bridge, eyeing me off to see if this broad could make the ship fly. Rick Kolbe (director of "Caretaker", Voyager’s pilot) and I were in the Ready Room.” Kate said in a low tone, “I now know why it's called the READY ROOM.” “I was getting ready to face those 50 suits out there.” Kate throws hands forward indicating that out there meant on the set of the bridge. “Rick took me aside and said to me, "Treat it like a dinner party, you are in charge, that's your living room out there, you have to feel comfortable in it, so just go for it, but whatever you do don't say Ongarge". So I walked onto the bridge, sat in that big chair and just for the hell of it said "Engage". “
Kate: “And the Techno babble, every night I would pray to God that I would get through each day, it was like learning Japanese and it was no Japanese I had ever heard before. I would pray, "Please God, help me learn this dialogue, help me learn Japanese". We had 16 hour days and after that I would go home, study my lines for the next day’s shoot for 2 hours before bed every night and I still do. And in the six years that I've been playing her (Janeway), I have never been sick. That's how much I have loved her, loved playing her and I give thanks every day to have been given her. She's mine you know, we have an understanding and I love her.”
Kate: “I'll take some questions now, who has a question?”
Q: “How do you feel about being a role model for young women?”
Kate: “I feel very honoured to be a role model, especially for young women, when I hear that I've helped them in their lives, that's something special, it makes all this worthwhile."
Q: “Do you do any impersonations?”
Kate: “No, I don't do impersonations.”
Q: “When Garrett Wang was here he did impersonations.”
Kate: “Did he really, well, I don't do impersonations, but I can do an impersonation of Garrett, “WHAT THE HELL IS MY NEXT LINE?”
Q: “What's your favourite Voyager episode?” – Child asked question.
Kate: “Did you ever see "Deadlock", with the two Janeways? That's my favourite episode; it was done so nicely don't you think?”
Q: from same child – “What's one you didn't like?”
Kate: “The one where I had lizard babies. What was that all about?” (Kate shrugs at audience)... Kate looks at child. “I didn't see much point in that episode - don't go kissing any lizards, okay!”
Q: “Will they ever bring Q back?”
Kate: “Oh I hope so, you know John de Lancie is one of my dearest friends and they never really resolved Q did they? Wouldn't it be wonderful if they tied up that loose end next season, besides, I would like to see my godson again, don't you think!”
Audience says Yeah!
Q: "I wish for you to have a glorious day on your upcoming birthday."
Kate: “Thank you very much, I'm 45 this year, can you believe it, 45 - I'm not sure what I'll be doing that evening, but I will be sure to remember you by raising my glass. Thank you.”
Q: “Episode "Fair Heaven" - what's your feeling on being given a holographic lover?”
Kate: moaning - "They couldn't even find her a real man. He's short.” Kate then bending her knees to kiss him while saying, "Hello little man". “I tell them Janeway needs romance and they give me air. I mean, it's not hard is it, to find her a real man? What do you all think? Give her a real man, right, but not Chakotay!! It just wouldn't work, can you imagine it, "Red alert! Commander to my ready room". "Yellow alert! Commander to my ready room", "No alert! The rest of you leave. Commander you stay". It's been 6 years on that ship, 6 looonnnnggg years, I think it's time she had some romance, right!!”
Kate: "Perhaps if you all wrote letters to Paramount they would listen to you all don't you think: "Dear Paramount Fools, give Captain Janeway a real man, Love Australia". What do you think, do you think that would get their attention?"
Audience cheers and claps.
Kate: "I have a saying on a Friday night when I'm there with the boys on my own, I call it "Wiener Night". It's late, 3 AM, they haven't seen their women in 5 days and they’re all a little punchy. There I am, the only woman on the bridge and I have to put up with it and you would think they would go easy on me, but do they, not a chance".
Audience laughs and claps.
Q: “Someone asked a question about Tim Russ?”
Kate: "He's a Dead man, don't even go there. If you see Tim Russ, RUN, don't talk to him, don't look at him, just get away from him as fast as you can. Understand!”
Crowd laughs hysterically at Kate who is making hand gestures to RUN from Tim Russ to the fan who asked the question.
At this point Kate was standing under the microphone’s echo that squealed very loudly. She asked if that came from her. The crowd pointed up to the ceiling above her. Kate looked up and eyes off ceiling as if something would jump out at her. Crowd laughs.
Q: “Will Chakotay and Janeway ever get together? “
Kate: "Arhhhhhhh”, covers face with hand. With sarcasm in her voice, “Now, what an interesting question.” “This is one that keeps coming up. We had that dance and it didn't go anywhere. I would rather remain passionate about him and the friendship we have together, the trust, the loyalty - sex just complicates things, I like him too much to have sex with him. He's my dearest friend and I'm passionate about that kind of friendship."
Q: “You must be a Katherine Hepburn fan, your voice is amazing, did you train your voice like that?”
Audience moaned at this question
Kate: "What a mysterious question. My voice is my voice. I have had no formal training and I don't believe I sound like Katherine Hepburn.” She asks another guest in the audience, “Do you?” “I speak from the diaphragm. I think that's what you’re hearing, but I don't think I sound like Katherine Hepburn at all.” Kate gives her own impersonation of Katherine Hepburn, "Do you think anybody really talks like this?" Kate sounded just like Hepburn and nothing like Kate, thus proving her point. "She's still alive you know, Katherine Hepburn".
Q: An Asian man asked a question about Worm Holes – Both the audience and Kate did not quite hear the question.
Kate: “Ummmm, you know, all I heard was "bobobobo mummmemem jammdmdm alal worm hole." Do I like wormholes? Will we find a wormhole? Ummm I'm sorry but I couldn't make that out". Kate shrugs, confused.
An audience member closer to the man says, "With the wormhole in the gamma quadrant, why doesn't Voyager head for the gamma quadrant rather than heading for the alpha quadrant to get home?"
Kate: “Awwwhh, well, wouldn't you think they would know about that? But if they did that then we wouldn't be lost now would we? We wouldn't have a show. But yes, thank you for that question; it makes you think doesn't it.”
Q: Someone asked Kate if she did her own stunts.
Kate: "Yes, I do my own stunts, all of them, except the ones that may hurt my back or break my neck, but generally yes, I do my own but I wouldn't want to hurt myself, so the more "dangerous" ones require a stunt woman. But I like doing my own stunts, it makes it more real and more fun".
Q: Someone asked a question regarding one of the writers on the show (Brannon Braga?) and if he departed how it would affect her?
Kate: "You see, you know more than I do. Brannan is leaving?” Kate looks confused. “This is the first I've heard of it. Where do you get your information? Now don't you think they would tell me something like that, if he were leaving, wouldn't you think?" Holds hands up in disbelief. “I'll be sure to check that rumour out”.
Q: Someone asked a question about the possibility of a Voyager movie and if she would consider it in the future?
Kate: “I don't know if that would ever happen. Of course I'm open to it. Coming together with the cast every so often would be wonderful. But of course there are more than two Captains now and I'm sure one of those Captains would have to die for it to happen”. “And I think it should be the oldest one, don't you?" she said laughingly.
Q: “Do the Borg ever crack up on the camera?”
Kate couldn't hear the question correctly and thought she heard: Do her boys ever crap up on the camera? Audience laughs hysterically at this misunderstanding...
Kate: "No they don't, not at all. You would think they would but they don't. They just stand there, no emotion at all. The Borg is very serious you know! I just got the call the other day that I have to return to work for one more week to finish up some things on the season finale. You know, don't you think it's high time we were done with the Borg? Aren't they pests? Don't you agree?” Crowd claps. “They're just not scary anymore. It's time we got rid of them.”
Kate: "But you know, I shouldn't joke about the Borg. I might be wearing some of those nasty little implants myself soon. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but that's all I'll say about that. I can't give too much away".
Crowd goes Ooooohhh
Q: Someone asked about Tim Russ again, “What is the story with him?
Kate: "Tim Russ is a dead man. You want me to tell you what he did to me? What he continues to do to me? It's WAR you know, between him and I. It's war, he's a dead man I tell you. Mr. Russ is the naughtiest of men. He plays up constantly and spitballs me in front of the camera. You know he only does that when the camera is rolling so that he has the evidence on film. I'll tell you the story.
It's a very intense emotional scene. Janeway has to save Tuvok.
"Tuvok, I'm coming, hang on Tuvok.”
SMACK - spitball lands on my forehead. I turn around.
“Tim, it's 3:30 AM. I'm tired. I gave you your time. Don't do that again, or I'll...”
And you know what he said?
"I'm shaking in my boots. I'm soooooo scared. Just shaking in my boots. You’re gonna get me, oooooh.”
I said, “Let’s do this again and get it right.”
"Tuvok, I'm coming Tuvok, hang on".
SMACK, spitball lands on my cheek. I pick spitball off and look at him.
"Why, why do you torment me? Why do you do this? You’re a dead man, you hear me? You’re a dead man".
By this time Mr. Russ is doing a happy dance behind the camera.
"I'm a dead man. Ooooh, I'm shaking in my boots. I'm so scared. I'm a dead man. Watcha gonna do? Ooohhh."
Kate mimics Tim Russ. I said, "Tim, this is to be the last time. I want to go home. It's now 3:45 AM. Please let’s do this.”
By now I didn't CARE. I just didn't CARE and in a none motional voice for that scene I said. "Tuvok, oh Tuvok, I'm coming Tuvok, hang on."
SMACK, another spitball lands in my eye and I look at him and tell him he's a dead man. He does this you know, on purpose. He waits until the camera is rolling so that he has it all on tape for posterity. Needless to say we didn't get much done that night.
I turned to the wardrobe guy and said, "Who's the Captain of this ship?"
He said, "You are Kate."
And I said, "You must swear your allegiance to me. You hear me? Only to me. If something were to happen to my ship, it's my duty to correct it, right?"
And this young man was saying, "Kate, where are you going with this?"
Then I said to him, "I want you to do something for me. While Mr. Russ is having his little ears removed, I want you to go to his trailer and remove all his clothing, everything except for just ONE sock, do you understand?”
Kate looks at audience with a naughty smile. "That sock is for.... well, you know, his little, you know what".
Audience laughs hysterically.
"The weekend passes. Monday morning, early call, 5 AM. I'm in the make-up and hair trailer and Tim walks in, "Hi Tim, how are you today?"
Tim: "Good morning Kate, I'm fine thanks."”
I sat there thinking, “What's he up to? He's up to something. He was just too cheerful, you know. Just too cheerful". At that time I hadn't been to my trailer yet and was a little suspicious of what he might be up to. So, I get to my trailer door and carefully open it. Peek inside to find wall-to-wall pictures of Tim Russ' bottom all over my trailer with captions saying, "You'll be kissing this soon enough." "See this? Kiss my butt."” Kate points to her butt.
Audience laughs hysterically.
"This kind of thing has been going on for years with Tim Russ and I'm constantly dreaming up ways to get him back. It's never ending." Kate shakes her head in annoyance at Tim Russ’ ongoing hijinks.
Q: “What will you do after Voyager finishes its run?”
Kate: “My passion is for the theatre. So, I will move my family back to the East Coast, probably Cleveland where my husband lives, and rent a little apartment in New York and commute. I'd like to be able to cook for my husband and leave Hollywood while I still have some money. Before I'm tempted to spend it all on plastic surgery. It's painful. Hollywood can be a "cruel" place. So unkind to women over the age of 12 and I've had to fight hard to succeed with all the courage, determination and dignity a woman could find within herself.” “This,” Kate waves her hand to include her body from head to toe, “is just a hanger for a person's personality and spirit and to those in Hollywood is not very important. I want to return to the theatre if they'll have me."
Q: Someone asked her a question about how did she felt about being a woman who got her ship lost in space?
Kate: “I refuse to be one of those women who gets lost forever and I'm not stopping at a gas station to ask for directions!”
Q: “Have you ever thought of writing a book?”
Kate: “Yes, after Voyager has finished I think I'll write my memoirs! “
Loud applause from audience.
Kate: "Would you buy it?” This elicited loud applause and a YEAH from audience.
Kate: "Oh good, and you know there will be little pictures in my book as well, and you know who's BOTTOM will be in there” Kate referring to Tim Russ.
Audience cheers and laughs.
Q: “How did the departure of Jennifer Lien affect you and the cast and what are your thoughts on Jennifer’s return in the episode “Fury”?”
Kate: “It was devastating when Jen left; she was an important part of our family and it was like loosing any member of your family. Whether she was happy about leaving or the way it was done, I don't know. I don't think she was happy, but what can you do. They did what they did for their own reasons, but it was a very difficult time. As for “Fury”, I didn't see where they were going with it, stirring up all those emotions, you know, I was like, well, you know, I didn't see the point. It was very hard to go back in there and do that, very difficult."
Q: Someone asked a question about Jennifer Lien attending a Convention in Sydney and not answering any questions and how disappointing her appearance was.
Kate: "Jennifer is a very shy person, she's very introverted and doesn't attend conventions very often, she's an incredible actress, she brings so much clarity to what she does on screen. I'm sure she did her best in answering questions, however, she is tremendously shy and that's probably what you were seeing. I have the utmost respect for her, it can be very difficult getting up here and talking to large crowds, some people handle it with grace and others... well, you know, if you’re not used to it can be terrifying."
Organiser tells Kate that this will be her last question... Kate says "What ever do you mean, are we running out of time, I'm in Australia, where else do I have to go". Audience cheers! Organiser doesn't look happy.
Q: “I heard you have trouble hitting your mark on the set and they have to put sand bags down so you'll know where to stand?”
Kate was a little stunned by this question.
Kate: “Really, I have trouble hitting my mark!?? I wonder who told you that, let me guess, Garrett Wang or Mr. Russ perhaps? Do you know how much space there is to move on the bridge, you’re working within about 5 to 10 feet, with the camera right in your face.” Kate gestures with hand - camera in her face. “So sometimes they put gaffer tape on the floor to indicate where they want you to end up standing, but generally, NO, I don't have trouble hitting my mark. And as for sandbags, well, yeah, okay, stick a sandbag or two in there and let’s see what happens. I'd more than likely trip over a sandbag, but hey, that might be entertaining!!”
Kate: “Seeing as there is little space between actor and camera, one must have a good relationship with the camera at all times, and I believe I have that kind of relationship, we have an understanding with each other, it's just between the camera and me. I talk to it all the time, I say, "Are you going to be kind to me today, are we going to get along today. Ooh good, I'm glad you agree." If the camera is not kind to you, it can be very difficult."
Q: “Throughout your acting career, has there ever been a role that you didn’t like doing?”
Kate: “Yes, there was one. I accepted the role for the money and that's something I told myself I would never do, because my heart and soul wasn't really in the part, but I had to, I was desperate. It was for a Danielle Steel miniseries, "Daddy". Do you remember it? Patrick Duffy and all that hair. I remember doing that love scene and saying to him "You’re so fluffy." Kate mimics fluffing up Patrick Duffy’s hair in the middle of the love scene.
Kate: “My sons and I recently went on a trip to the Mountains and went for a ride on the Skyway. Do you know them? They go across a range and take you up.” Audience says yes. “Well, the driver of the cable car stopped midway across the gorge as a joke. I didn't think it was a joke. I said to him, "Why have you stopped, this isn't very funny, get this thing going". He smiled and said, "Look at us, we are in the middle, Ooooh”. I then looked at him and said, "This isn't very funny, and I'm not impressed, do you like playing around like this, get moving". He looked embarrassed and then proceeded to get the cable car moving again. Well, my point is, my sons and I had quite an adventure whilst visiting Costa Rica a few years ago. We went for a balloon ride and the balloon couldn't land because of crosswinds. The pilot told me that we had to land the balloon somewhere quickly and to prepare to throw the kids out when we got low enough. I said, "What about me?” The pilot responded, "You stay, I need your weight". Kate laughingly said, “What is it with men?” So we waited for the balloon to reach tree top level and after hitting a few of the trees, (Kate described hitting trees, bang, bang) the boys were dropped out of the balloon one by one and you know, it was terrifying, seeing your kids thrown out like that, so when the guy in the cable car decided to spring a joke on us in midair, I didn't take kindly to his joke..."
Kate: "I want to do the autograph session, I really want to do that. You have been a wonderful, gracious audience, thank you so much; I've had a wonderful time in Australia. Bless you all..."
Waving goodbye Kate leaves via the way she came in, up the side of the convention hall, waving goodbye to her fans... audience claps and cheers as she leaves.
I was last out of 500 people to have my photo signed by her and told her how grateful we are that she made the journey down under and how dearly we all love her as an actress and respect and admire her as a woman... She thanked me and said, "Aren’t you lovely, and nice meeting you"...
It was fantastic...