Voyager: The Return
July 28-29, 2001
Transcribed by Barbara Spencer
Kate's first session on stage started at 1300 on Saturday 28th July. Needless to say she came on to tumultuous applause and most people were on their feet.
Kate Mulgrew: Thank you. Thank you. Sit down you mad people! Thank you. And so quickly you sat down. I am so delighted to be here for a number of reasons but I think I should be very frank and tell you that despite the fact that I was born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa, I have long considered myself an Anglophile. (cheers) I love everything English, particularly the graciousness of its people. There's really nothing like it. Nothing daunts them. They're never grouchy. They're never upset. (tongue firmly placed in cheek and raucous laughter from the audience) They're absolutely marvelous every single one of them! I need to talk to you, I suppose, about this experience of mine; almost impossible to do it. I'll encapsulate it by saying that this has been the most extraordinary chapter in my life. When I took this job eight years ago --- or eighty? --- I wanted this job. I needed this job. I wasn't very familiar with Star Trek, which I think ultimately stood me in good stead. Genevieve Bujold, whom you may or may not know, was originally cast. What did I hear little boos and hisses? (laughter from the audience) Could I hear it a little louder please? (boos from the audience) I'm kidding , I'm kidding! I admire her greatly. She lasted a day and a half and she said ' I don't think I'll do this any more' (spoken in a French accent) and then they brought in the final five, which is what I call the last group that I was a part of; five actresses who had been in about two or three times and they do a thing that is not unlike a prize fight. If any of you has ever been to the fights, it's a knock out, drag out affair and I was left standing. Five wonderful actresses and Mr. Berman elected to go with the Irish Catholic in the group. I went to work immediately. I think I had two days. It was Yom Kippur in Los Angeles so that makes it three days and in I leapt knowing nothing about it, and being literally shot out of a cannon. I walked in. There were fifty men in suits standing there. The Paramount brass. The Voyager brass. Brass the color I'd never seen before. So much brass. And they were watching this woman. Can she walk? Can she talk? Are her breasts going to get in the way of her authority? What have we got here? Are we insane? And I remember standing off stage, because the first shot was on the bridge. I was standing in my ready room with the director, Rick Kolbe, and I said I don't know if I can do this. I mean they spent ten hours on my hair. I don't have hair worth ten hours. But of course I did follow Patrick Stewart didn't I? (laughter and cheers from the audience) I said to him I'm a little bit nervous, this technobabble is very foreign to me. This suit is very tight and my hair is in a little bun. He said 'Just forget everything, this is your living room and it's your baby. Now go.' And I went and I walked on. Mr. Kim, Mr. Tuvok round, down to my chair and I sat. I said to myself they're all watching, pull yourself together. And I said engage. They all pulled out a cigarette and they left. It's been a wonderful seven years, but I think this is the time to be forthcoming about why it's been so wonderful. It's been wonderful because I made friends of such quality, such integrity and such endurance to me that it redefined actually my life. John Ethan Phillips, Robert Picardo, Robbie McNeill - my neighbor whose trailer was right across from mine. Ask me any personal question you like about Robbie McNeill and I will answer it! (whoops and cheers from the ladies in the audience) To a man, an absolutely wonderful company. What you saw on the screen was the real thing. A chemistry that so seldom happens but, happened to us. Added to that my love of Janeway. At first I warrant you, they were in control. They wanted to make sure I had the command to pull off this franchise for seven years. After all the men had done this so well hadn't they? So they were very concerned that their male demographic fifteen to twenty-five. I'll go to my grave knowing those numbers. Fifteen to twenty-five, fifteen to thirty, fifteen to twenty-five. Can she do it? Can she convince them that she is the captain of the ship? Now I understand it was controversial. Why wouldn't it be? I was old enough to be their mother, wasn't I? How disconcerting for those young chaps to see their mother in the captain's chair. I said to myself, I'm going to have to seduce them another way, and not the old fashioned way. I'm going to have to seduce them mano a mano. So I spent two years just concentrating on the command authority. Once I felt that that was in place, I began to fashion Janeway to my liking. Once I felt that that was in place, I stopped listening to everybody else and did exactly what I wanted to do. (cheers and clapping from the audience) And I have loved it; I have really loved it. There has been some stress. I have children. My children were not crazy about my schedule. These were sixteen to eighteen hour days for the first two or three seasons. I wasn't home. Believe me, it was a masterpiece of choreography just keeping my mind together and I would say to every working woman in this room there is no solution to this dilemma. You simply will never go home and say I did it, my kids are happy and my boss is happy and I'm happy. It will never happen. So, philosophically, I dug down very deep and I thought how am I going to survive this emotionally because my boys were going through adolescence. You know what adolescence is like everybody? Any woman who survives that alone deserves a reward. I said all I can do, having agreed to take this job, having made this commitment, is to give one-hundred-fifty percent to it. So when I was at work and I was with Janeway. I was totally Janeway. And when I was at home, with my sweethearts, who would try to put me in the loony bin, I was totally present. It's the only thing you can do. It's the only way you do it, I must say at the end of it that what a journey, what an extraordinary privilege it has been to play the first, and I must say, I hope the last, female captain. (applause and cheers from the audience) I tried very hard to give you a captain with a heart. A captain whose flaws you could not only recognize, but identify with. A captain you could laugh with, a captain you could cry with, a captain who ultimately you believed in, but who you could also embrace. I tried to give you a Janeway who would endure in your hearts. If I've failed, we'll talk about that later. But I certainly could not have done this without what I know has been unconditional support throughout from all of you. It's extraordinary fan base and when I'm asked why it is so extraordinary, upon reflection, I have now decided that my answer is because it is a rarefied atmosphere, and a very unusual kind of intelligence. You have the imagination and the intelligence of a scientist and when those elements are married, the sky 's the limit. So I always felt that I was categorically supported, and I cannot thank you enough. The gratitude I feel is really endless. What an extraordinary group of supporters you have been. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would like to take some questions if that's all right. Do you have questions?
Are you as fond of poetry and the arts as Janeway is?
Kate Mulgrew: As Janeway is, am I as fond of poetry and the arts? Yes. She acquired that rather slowly if you were really observant and you know who taught her that don't you? Who taught her to like poetry and the arts? The doctor. The doctor taught me how to love. The doctor took me on a most extraordinary odyssey. Do you realize that? Scientifically, Janeway had nothing to do with that guy. He was a robot. He was non existent. He was a program. He was there to be used and used according to her wishes. And the doctor, because of Robert Picardo, led me a dance that I will never forget as long as I live. I think of all the story lines, to me, that was the most exciting, the most compelling and certainly the most moving. That Janeway would say at the end of seven years, I love my EMH because he has taught me how to love. That's Star Trek isn't it? That's great.
Earlier this year in Pasadena I told you that I am from Germany and you asked me a very difficult question.
Kate Mulgrew: I asked you about the holocaust.
Yes, and I regret that I could not come up with anything to say about that, so I wrote you a letter about what I think as a German. So can I come up with the letter?
Kate Mulgrew: Yes indeed. Thank you. I am afraid I put her in a very difficult position as a German woman. I asked her how she felt about the holocaust in front of two-thousand people. You were very, very gracious. Thank you.
I don't actually have a question but I would like to say that I hope you realize that the reason I'm here, and I think I speak for every single person in this room is to see you. (applause and cheers from the audience)
Kate Mulgrew: That's very lovely. But I don't quite believe it, after all those great chaps are here and aren't they marvelous? (more cheers and applause from the audience) But then I can always hold that against them later on!
I would like to ask if there was a party for you and did you enjoy it?
Kate Mulgrew: Don't you just love it when little children ask a question? (Kate does an impersonation of the little girl asking the question) The wrap party was okay, anti-climatic. How could they possibly finish it as extravagantly as it itself unfolded? Red carpet, photographers and everybody had a drink, but there was not that madness that really should have ensued of the overwhelming sense of an ending to something pretty profound in all of our lives. But that I think is Hollywood, do you understand? I am getting it here with you today, so that's okay.
You look wonderful and you are a real inspiration to me.
Kate Mulgrew: Thank you.
I know you are a voracious reader and I wondered what you are reading at the moment and I read somewhere that you are fluent in French and Italian. I wondered if that was true?
Kate Mulgrew: Fluent? You read that? Must have read that in one of my mother's journals! I struggle with French, Italian and Spanish. I am on a bit of a reading binge right now and unfortunately when I go on a binge I read so quickly. Where's Tim? Is my husband here somewhere? No, like a good husband, he's in the pub! (cheers and applause) I'm just reading Wendy Wasserman's book 'Shiksa Goddess', new book out. I am now reading a novel called 'Disobedience' and also the life of Mrs. Weldon. 'The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon.' The life of Samuel Pepys. Samuel Pepys, another great Englishman. A lot, it's unending.
I am over 40 and a working mum just like you. Over the last seven years of watching Voyager, the fact that Captain Janeway is so strong, are you aware that you are held as a role model to women and a source of inspiration?
Kate Mulgrew: It did indeed. I became aware of it, painfully aware of it as those letters started to come in and the responsibility started to really dawn on me. It's all right to be a role model as long as you're honest. I think it is very difficult for women right now and I have no comforting answer. You can only be present to what you are present to. You can only ask of yourself so much. A role model for science, that's a wonderful thing, but a role model to humanity would be even better. Women can do this and they can retain their compassion, their humanity and their goodness, their lightness, their laughter. All of this is what I would like to share because I sense what has been happening since the advent of feminism is we can get fractured about this. Women can become quite rattled about it and men get upset, we need to work together. We need to work together outside a certain room. Right?
Now that your role as Captain Janeway is over what are your plans? Are you in England to make a film or any other plans for the big screen?
Kate Mulgrew: I have an offer in England? No I'm not doing a film in England.
Do you plan to have your own official web site where we can find out about your career?
Kate Mulgrew: I suppose if you can't get a film, you can get a web site! I don't think I have an official web site, but I'm going to do that because you may or may not know this, my husband Tim Hagan is running for Governor of Ohio (applause) and we need to get the Democratic vote up there. How many of you are American? How many of you are Democrats? That's two votes honey! Thank you very much for that question.
Were you happy with how Endgame was written and how the story lines were tied up and would you change anything?
Kate Mulgrew: I loved Endgame and I particularly loved the ending. (shouts of NO from the audience as it has not yet aired in the UK) Do I look stupid to you? (applause) Maybe after seven years of exercising such power Rick Berman thought to himself I'm going to throw this broad a crumb and he gave me carte- blanche with Endgame. I got to choose the other Janeway. Was it provocative enough? I had a complete hand in the writing and I helped to form the ending and I believe that the ending defined, for my taste, the essence of what Voyager was all about; you won't be disappointed.
You remind me of a young version of Katharine Hepburn would you ever consider playing her?
Kate Mulgrew: I am doing her. (applause) That is what I am doing. A play has been written for me based on the life of Katharine Hepburn. It's a one woman show. I'll start rehearsals the first week of January. It's called 'Tea at Five.' In the first act I'm thirty-one, in a bathing suit and in the second act I'm seventy-six and we watch the entire projection of her life. It's very serious and I hope compelling, but that's my project .
You know you are a role model for people but what you don't know is that I was actually able to win the occasional adolescent discussion with my daughters by saying and what do you think Captain Janeway would do?
Kate Mulgrew: Really? That makes it worth it! Can I ask you why it did not have that affect on my sons?
The reason it worked for me I think, it wasn't just what Captain Janeway said or did but the tilt of her head, the slowness of her smile, whether she touched someone or not. My question is how much of that was director driven, how much of that is Kate Mulgrew being Kathryn Janeway and how much is just Kate Mulgrew? I'm suspecting that a lot of it is just you being you.
Kate Mulgrew: Well, a lot of it wasn't actually me being me. I was very careful to separate Janeway from Mulgrew, but the physical stuff, her tactile attitude, her demonstrativeness, that was Mulgrew, and I fought like hell to win those battles. Those producers said the Captain doesn't touch. I said the captain doesn't touch, she doesn't laugh out loud, she doesn't cry. Is she a captain or is she a fake? I said this captain is going to touch and you watch the way I touch. The fans loved it they understood that we were all in that together. I don't know how you go for seven years without touching anybody. Well Captain Kirk had some solutions to those problems, but Janeway wasn't going that way.
Do you have a favorite alien species?
Kate Mulgrew: Yes. The Vidians I'd say. I love them. What a great idea, organ snatching to survive. But they were really quite lovely and vulnerable. Do you remember them? 8472 very good. The Borg, endlessly interesting, although towards the end, I have to say, with all due respect to Alice Krige, I think we had enough of the Borg. Don't you agree? (applause)
Do you think Janeway really fancied Chakotay? (cheers and applause)
Kate Mulgrew: This is the all time record of waiting to ask the question, the only question you really want the answer to. Yes, she fancied him, but she fancied something else much more and what was that? (a member of the audience shouts 'Seven' applause and screams) I do fancy Chakotay, but I had to get the crew home. I was married to my job. How dull, but how important. Can you imagine if I'd been sleeping with Chakotay? Red Alert! It wouldn't work would it?
Before I forget, I need to thank those of you who have made donations to the Alzheimer's Research Foundation. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's two years ago and this is very hard for me because I adore my mother and I miss my mother. My mother is an artist, a painter, a pianist, a chef, she's borne eight children, she's buried two of them. She's full of life, laughter, naughtiness, she is a delicious woman, but she's gone now and there's somebody else there. It's very, very difficult to understand what this person is feeling and so I have determined to do everything I can to help the Alzheimer's Research Foundation find a cure. In an effort to do so I have brought along a script of mine, 'Hunters' where we first meet the Hirogen. It's fully signed by the company and in it are all my personal notes that I took all those years ago and I would like to auction this script off. And the proceeds will go to the Alzheimer's foundation and hopefully to my mother's cure. I did this in Pasadena and I started the bid at $1000. Maybe I'm going to have to change my approach! Does anybody want to bid on this for $1000?
(The currency changed to £'s and eventually went for £6500.)
Do you have any pets at home?
Kate Mulgrew: I have a dog, a chocolate Labrador and a cockatiel.
Does it say anything?
Kate Mulgrew: Yes, it speaks fluent Spanish! My housekeeper is Mexican and I have the bird right over the sink in the kitchen, so Lucy has been talking to this bird for eighteen years and it doesn't speak a word of English. My dog too refuses to die. He is the longest lived animal on the planet. He just sort of drags himself around.
I've got two questions. Firstly how much of the best traits and the worst traits of Captain Janeway have incorporated themselves into Kate Mulgrew?
Kate Mulgrew: Oh! a trick question! Well she's so much smarter than I am. I give her that. On the other hand I gave her Mulgrew's humor, which believe me, did not exist on the page. Every time I tried to slip that in they had a huge, passionate meeting. She's laughing. She's chuckling. Janeway would never do such a thing. So I gave Janeway Mulgrew's humor, Janeway gave Mulgrew her intelligence, a very similar kind of passion. The greater discipline would go to Janeway, although I am a pretty disciplined person. Compassion, I think I admired Janeway's compassion more than I admire Mulgrew's. And she is a cowboy of the first order, which I am not. She's absolutely physically, mentally, and emotionally fearless when it comes to saving the lives of her crew. I, of course, do not have that, which is why I've survived on the stage.
The second question is relates back to one of your earlier comments, how anatomically correct is Robbie McNeill's action figure? (laughs and cheers)
Kate Mulgrew: I'm so glad she said action figure! I have not carefully studied Robbie's action figure. This is because I have carefully studied Robbie McNeill, and I can assure you that Mr. McNeill is anatomically correct. I hate to reveal things and I'll catch hell if any of those guys are still around here, but you do not know what I endured for you every Friday night for seven years with those boys on the bridge at midnight. I know about their anatomies. I know all too much about their anatomies! They would put me through living hell knowing that it would make me laugh. I had to look at Tim Russ's bare bottom at one o'clock in the morning and Robbie would turn around and put a little something in his suit and turn around and I had to endure that. Where are they, those boys? Get them out here. I want to show these people their individual anatomies and let them judge for themselves.
What impact did the first female Captain have on the Star Trek Universe and what did you learn from working on Voyager?
Kate Mulgrew: I think she impacted women and their daughters as a role model in science particularly and I learned throughout the course of Star Trek: Voyager how terribly wide, deep and broad this whole affair is and what my obligations really are if I am a person of any integrity. I decided to endow Janeway with an authenticity that I decided to stand by as Mulgrew because its very important that one truly reflects the other, so I hope I've succeeded in doing that. Not always, but I've tried. I've wanted to.
How did you get involved with Star Trek?
Kate Mulgrew: I told the story at the beginning. I'm an actress and I auditioned for this part and I didn't get it right away. It went to somebody else and then when she decided she didn't want to do it because she was a little bit insane and then I got it.
You had an Irish Setter back on earth did you have a holographic dog so you could go for walks on the holodeck?
Kate Mulgrew: A holographic dog? No, that's where I draw the line. My dog was real. Just like the fiancée who dumped me. Wasn't he charming? How would you like to get that dear Jane letter in space? Sorry couldn't wait. Love, The Idiot! (cheers and applause from the audience)
Now that Star Trek has finished, what would be your dream role now?
Kate Mulgrew: Well, I wouldn't mind being the first lady of Ohio! (cheers) I don't think you can get much better than that. You know I'm at a point in my life, I'm forty-six years old. I've been acting for twenty-eight years and I feel deeply gratified by it. I feel that I'm in some sort of very interesting transition, the parameters of which are not fully defined, nor do I see where this thing is going. But it's deeper and it's better, it's a little bit wiser and it's also a bit more whimsical. I'm very excited about the rest of my life. I think women in their twenty's and their thirty's have a hard time with it. Don't you? Yes, a bloody hard time of it, right? But I think so much of it is trying to just import ourselves or something in this crazy culture in which we live. But at forty you get to say I have nothing to prove, this is me, take me or leave me. So I do the very best here that I can.
How did you feel when you were offered the job after Genevieve Bujold left?
Kate Mulgrew: I remember exactly because on the Tuesday I was in network, that's what the process is called, you walk in the room there are approximately thirty people seated in the room behind tables, you're asked to do a scene, perhaps two scenes. You are not there to chat or make jokes. It's very, very difficult. You are being judged and you have five minutes to make it or break it. At the end of the day we were all dismissed which ordinarily does not happen. They just said thank you ladies to all five of us. We walked to the parking lot and it was impossible to know, but I felt when I was in there, a certain alchemy happening, as I stared into Rick Berman's face and inside I said, try me baby. But, I went home and it was Yom Kippur, a two day holiday and I didn't hear a thing. So I thought, well, that's the way it goes, upsetting but not the end of the world. So I went to the market on the second day and when I came back from the market, my kids and my housekeeper were standing at the front porch. Something they don't often do together hand in hand, screaming. Listen to the answering machine, listen to the answering machine. Something they have never done, listen to the answering machine. So I went in and listened to four or five messages on the answering machine then the last one was from Mr. Berman and he said Kate Mulgrew, this is Rick Berman calling, I just want to welcome you aboard, Captain. See you Monday. (cheers and applause from the audience) I said children, Lucy, on your knees, sign of the cross, the our Father, and let's open the champagne and that was actually what happened that day. It was a great day.
I read in a magazine that you said you called Tim Russ most other names but Tim ...give me some of them!
Kate Mulgrew: I'm under contract, I can't. I had to call him those names, ladies and gentlemen, I had to. It was the only way to keep him in his place. After the twenty-third spit ball on a night without end, I had to put him in his place. I said to him Tim, this is my close up, it's 3:30 am you're off camera, we're going to try this again, if I feel one more spit ball striking my forehead, you're a dead man. Oooooh, dead man, yea! Cameras rolling, action and a spit ball lands on my forehead again. I said that's it, you are dead. He leaves to go home. I said to the wardrobe man here is a $100 bill, I want you to get into Tim Russ's trailer and remove his pants, his shoes, his underwear and leave only one sock and bring me the keys to his car. The wardrobe man brought the items to me and I kept them with me all weekend. When I walked into my trailer on Monday morning at 4:30 am I wish I had been hung over, but no I was sober, and I was seeing in front of me that which you can not believe. Fifteen photographs of Tim Russ's bare bottom staring at me and each with a little note like you'll kiss this for the next five years. So you see, Mr. Russ is a man of great erudition and depth.
(Tim Russ appears over the balcony and Kate says she has a question for him.)
Kate Mulgrew: I know you are a very busy man signing autographs. I also know you are anatomically correct. Who put who through more hell in these seven years? You me or me you?
Tim Russ: I believe it was me you!
Kate Mulgrew: The heart and soul of this show and of this ship was about a captain and her crew lost in space who very surprisingly and quite amazingly and very movingly to me, fell in love with each other and that was the seven year odyssey that we took and that is the legacy that we leave. I thank you for everything that you have given me not just this opportunity to meet you personally but the last seven years of my life which are the most unforgettable of my life thus far and for all of these men and women in my company whom I have come to love so deeply, for your support and for your categorical belief that not only would we bring the ship home, but that we would do it with some panache. Thank you very much.
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