Totally Kate talks with Kate Mulgrew in Columbus!

This interview was conducted over lunch (between photo ops and "Q&A" session) at Vulkon's Sci-Fi Expo in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, July 14th, 2007. Many thanks to Kate Mulgrew for taking time out of a very busy schedule for a lovely conversation.

Many thanks to my transcriber for her help! 
Interview copyright Totally Kate. Please do not repost. 

Totally Kate:  My first question – your new play – I’m sure you’re excited about that.

Kate Mulgrew:  I’m quite excited.  It’s called “Iphigenia 2.0”, by Charles Mee, who is a prolific and highly regarded playwright in New York.  And the Signature Theatre Company, which is where it’s being done, will do an entire season of his plays.  And I’m playing Clytemnestra in what is loosely based on the Euripidean tragedy.  Agamemnon is married to Clytemnestra.  They have a daughter, Iphigenia, who is sacrificed.  But in this version, which is modernized, she sacrifices herself.  And in this version, Agamemnon is approached as a rather ambiguous leader whose skills are questionable.  Clytemnestra is powerful, and of course in abject despair when her daughter herself elects to commit suicide for her country.  So there’s a bit of a spin on it, you could call it, you know.  It’s very topical and timely…

Totally Kate:  I was going to say, it’s very…

Kate Mulgrew:  And he’s – you know – related it to the Iraq war, and to Bush and all of the rest of it.  So I think that it’s very smart, and very hard, because the Greek element remains the Greek element, which is feelings and dimensions of great size and scale. So in my scenes with Agamemnon, and with Iphigenia and Achilles I will be called upon to reach very, very, very deep.  I mean there’s no skating in this one.  But it’s beautifully written, it’s very austere.  It’s very tight – taut, rather.  And every emotion is huge within that tautness.  So I think that it will be … I think it will be electrifying.  Tina Landau is a very innovative director.  Oh, her half brother is Les Landau, who used to direct Star Trek: Voyager.

Totally Kate:  Oh!

Kate Mulgrew:  And I loved Les.  And so I found myself very surprised to be once again in the hands of a Landau!  She’s a creator of something called Viewpoint.  So in many ways it’s like being back at Conservatory.  We do a lot of acting exercises before we even begin to rehearse, and it takes me back to my conservatory days.  But it’s very good to refresh all of those things that can be atrophied or can lie dormant.  And she’s reawakening things in me – risks and challenges and ideas that I think can - we can get a little comfortable with who we think we are as actors, and…

Totally Kate:  Challenge you a little bit.

Kate Mulgrew:  Right.  And remember that the truth is immediate and always surprising.  So I’m excited.  It’s going to go fast.  We open – well they switched the opening date – I’ll have to get that for you, it’s four days later now. 

Totally Kate:  Oh, okay.

Kate Mulgrew:  They did that to accommodate me and Creation.

Totally Kate:  Creation. 

Kate Mulgrew:  Right.

Totally Kate:  We were wondering about that.

Kate Mulgrew:  They flipped that.  So I’m going there for just the day, but then they’re adding a performance the next day, and then they’re backing up the opening. But I can get you that information.  I’m very excited about it.

Totally Kate:  Yes.  Kind of sudden.  Or it just came about.

Kate Mulgrew: Well Tina approached me a couple of months ago, but I was in the middle of “Our Leading Lady” and I… and I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  So I was on Harstine Island, which is in the middle of Puget Sound last weekend, with some great friends, and there’s no cell phone service up there.  So bizarrely, my phone rang at six-thirty in the morning and it was Sid, and he got through!  And all I heard was this crackling and “You’ve been offered “Iphigenia”.  So I went somewhere and found a land line and called my manager and she said, “Indeed, they want you to play Clytemnestra.”  I said, “Well I’m not going to play it sight unseen.  So if they can’t wait for me to go home and read it, then…”  And they did.  And I called Tina Landau after I’d read it, and we had a good talk, and I agreed on Monday.  Started rehearsal on Tuesday. 

Totally Kate:  Uh huh.  Because I know when I sent him that email it was like ‘That’s fast!’

Kate Mulgrew:  Yes.  Very fast.  Things go that way in this business, though. They really do. 

Totally Kate:  It was up on the Internet already.

Kate Mulgrew:  Yes.

Totally Kate:  The same day!

Kate Mulgrew:  Yeah. 

Totally Kate:  I’m sure I’m going to, sometime, come up and see it…

Kate Mulgrew:  It was up on the Internet the same day?

Totally Kate:  Yes.  Last Monday.

Kate Mulgrew:  It was?

Totally Kate:  Yes, like Monday afternoon!

Kate Mulgrew:  How could it have been?

Totally Kate:  Well, Playbill and Theater Mania and those theatre sites had it…

Kate Mulgrew:  Oh, right.  I had agreed. Right.

Totally Kate:  Those sites – they had it up. 

Kate Mulgrew:  Yeah.

Totally Kate:  And I have to ask you this question, because the last time I saw you in April we were talking about the Presidential candidates, and you were kind of leaning towards or liking John Edwards.

Kate Mulgrew:  Uh huh.

Totally Kate:  So is that still your …

Kate Mulgrew:  I think I’ve changed my mind. Yeah.  I think that – I’m not entirely sure but I think I’m leaning towards Obama, now.  If Tim has his way, he’ll chair that campaign in Ohio.  I don’t know – the more I look at it…

Totally Kate:  It’s hard.  I mean you don’t know …

Kate Mulgrew:  Very tough.  All the nominees are not in yet. 

Totally Kate:  Right, exactly.

Kate Mulgrew:  I mean they’re all going to come in like cowboys, right?  But what do we need more in this country?  A fine Southern lawyer who understands compassion and whose domestic values, I think, are probably without compare; a woman who would bring unprecedented virtues to this Office, and would bring a great source of wisdom with her; or an African American male.  And I think the greatest problem the nation faces is that one – it’s time to knit this, so that as a country we can move forward as a people.  I’m a little worried about his inexperience …

Totally Kate:  I mean do you think it’s also kind of the – which one has – I mean you want the best person but who has the best chance?  You know what I mean?  It’s like …

Kate Mulgrew:  Well I think this time I want definitely the best person. And you have to admit that with Obama there’s going to be no lack of energy.  There are no tragedies in his family – he’s very, very fit. He’s very, very smart.  He’s ambitious, and I think that he’ll bring a passion to it that we haven’t seen.

Totally Kate:  Uh huh.

Kate Mulgrew:  I worry about John Edwards and Elizabeth, you know?  Because I’m afraid…

Totally Kate:  There’s a lot of baggage…

Kate Mulgrew:  If she gets any sicker, or if she dies… and he were to be in office, do you understand?

Totally Kate:  Yeah.

Kate Mulgrew:  But she’s been terrific, hasn’t she?  Huh?

Totally Kate:  I mean the way they’ve handled that…

Kate Mulgrew:  Brave.

Totally Kate:  I mean of course there are two sides to that – people say if you only think you’re going to have so much time what's your choice, you know?

Kate Mulgrew:  Uh huh. 

Totally Kate:  Your family …

Kate Mulgrew:  God, she’s had a lot of knocks, hasn’t she?

Totally Kate:  Definitely. 

Kate Mulgrew:  Both of them.  You know for that reason alone I would like to say I wish he could… but on the other hand we need somebody who can lead us now.  We’re in such a toilet, Connie.  Really. So - my final vote is not in, but I’m leaning that way. 

Totally Kate:  I watched the last episode of The Black Donnellys … 

Kate Mulgrew:  Hmmm…

Totally Kate:  So that was a surprise!

Kate Mulgrew:  Which I’ve not seen!

Totally Kate:  Oh, well, you of course know what happens to your character.

Kate Mulgrew:  Yes.  Yes. But I don’t get killed.

Totally Kate:  Oh, okay, so she didn’t die?

Kate Mulgrew:  No, the whole thing was that she – I would …

Totally Kate:  The last episode was …

Kate Mulgrew:  Stunning.

Totally Kate:  The best of the whole show.

Kate Mulgrew:  Were you shocked when I got shot?

Totally Kate:  Yes, I was shocked!  Well you kind of knew leading… there was something… they were leading up to it and it’s like – something’s going to happen…

Kate Mulgrew:  Yeah. Yeah.  And also Peter Green got shot. Same time. 

Totally Kate:  He was nasty. 

Kate Mulgrew:  It’s too bad.  That just didn’t work, did it?

Totally Kate:  Yeah.  There’s a fan group that’s sending – they want a second season to go to HBO, so they wanted to send something associated with the show to the executives.  So they were sending crackers, because there was a bar in it called Firecracker…

Kate Mulgrew:  That’s right.

Totally Kate:  Firecracker Lounge.  So they were sending crackers to HBO to get it…

Kate Mulgrew:  Really? I don’t think so. 

Totally Kate:  No, I doubt it. That’s a very long shot.

Kate Mulgrew:  Right. 

Totally Kate:  I have to ask you – I asked on the list for people to submit some questions.

Kate Mulgrew:  Good!

Totally Kate:  So Chris wanted to know ‘do you work your craft differently now than you did when you were younger, and if so, what do you do differently, and is it easier or harder, and are you fighting for more roles now that you are working on the stage again?’

Kate Mulgrew:  Let’s start with the last question, and the answer to that is yes. The fight for the roles gets harder, because I get older.  Most of the roles are written for younger women.  But in New York the fight is also more interesting, because it’s a small…

Totally Kate:  Community.

Kate Mulgrew:  A small and highly talented and highly competitive group of women. So there’s a kind of a joy to it as well.  The other questions were ‘has my craft changed?’  Of course.  Of course.  And I would say in … in the most significant way - most of the artifice has dropped away.  Anything that I used to defend myself as an actress has either quite naturally fallen away, or I’ve stripped it off.  It doesn’t interest me any more.  The truth interests me now.  And facing fear – which we all have – and sort of just bashing it down.  I want vulnerability.  And I want to understand exactly what it is between two people that makes those moments electrifying on the stage. So I’m no longer interested in being celebrated, I’m interested in being believed.  And that’s a great thing.  But that comes with experience…

Totally Kate:  Uh huh.  More confidence…

Kate Mulgrew:  Heartbreak… do you know?

Totally Kate:  Yeah. 

Kate Mulgrew:  And what was the first part of her question?

Totally Kate:  Do you do your craft differently now than when you were younger?

Kate Mulgrew:  Yes.  Yes. When you’re young, you’re thinking of the craft.  Patrick Duffy once said to me, “You wear your acting like a cloak.”  Which I knew was a… you know what I mean?

Totally Kate:  Uh huh. 

Kate Mulgrew:  There were two ways of looking at that.  I don’t think one wears one’s acting.  You just have to ‘be’ as the actor. But I love it as much as I always have, so…

Totally Kate:  Oh, I can tell that!

Kate Mulgrew:  Can’t you?!

Totally Kate:  I can tell that you love being in New York...

Kate Mulgrew:  I love being in New York!

Totally Kate:  And doing the theatre…

Kate Mulgrew:  Yeah.  It’s a different thing for me… it’s what I’ve always loved best, you know?

Totally Kate. Yeah.

Kate Mulgrew:  I really wanted “Our Leading Lady” to go on.

Totally Kate:  Oh, yeah.  There’s no chance of that now?

Kate Mulgrew:  No.

Totally Kate:  It’s done?

Kate Mulgrew:  Yeah.

Totally Kate:  I loved it.

Kate Mulgrew:  I’m so glad.

Totally Kate:  Lisa wants to know, do ever find yourself acting like one of your characters on your own time?  And have you ever found it hard to shake one of your characters?

Kate Mulgrew:  This has often been asked.  Because I think that most people think that we undergo a form of self-hypnosis or brainwashing when we …

Totally Kate:  Well some characters - some actors take on the role, you know and like in between scenes you can’t talk to them and …

Kate Mulgrew:  Well I’ll tell you when I suffered from it – not suffered – but where it was a part of my being – was when I did “Tea at Five”.  That was a pretty complete immersion, and I was all alone.  And I was sitting next to Zoe Caldwell a couple of weeks ago and she told me she had the same thing when she played Maria Callas – that she couldn’t get out of it or she wouldn’t - didn’t want to.  But I would say that that’s probably strictly applicable to one person shows.  When you’re on stage with other people you let go of it. Or you should when you leave.  However some roles require more solitude than others.  Clytemnestra, I think, will be a … I don’t know.  Laura Keene required solitude.

Totally Kate:  Was it the last act?  I mean because of course there was the different – you know more comedy in the first act and then such a shift?

Kate Mulgrew:  There was, yeah.  Concentration is, as you get older, a direct by-product of rest and well-being.  So life, by its very nature, has to become more disciplined.  So I would say as I get older my life gets increasingly disciplined.  A lot of really looking after myself physically.  A lot of forcing myself to go to bed.  A lot of saying no. Do you know? 

Totally Kate:  Uh huh.

Kate Mulgrew:  Because that’s the way it goes. 

Totally Kate:  Does your family find you different?  I mean when you’re doing a role?

Kate Mulgrew:  Uh huh.  Uh huh.  A part of them loves it, and a part of them hates it!  My sister always says, “Well that’s it, I’ll see you in five months!”  You know?  And my family’s full of life, so I have to cut out all that fun stuff.  You can do a little bit, but you can’t do much. 

Totally Kate:  Right.  I mean that’s every night.  Especially a play, that’s every…

Kate Mulgrew:  That’s right.  Especially of Greek size.  There’s no way I can get to what she’s feeling if I don’t feel it.  At least that’s what I’m committed to.

Totally Kate:  Right.  Angela would like to know, has there ever been a literary character, a historical figure, a saint, or a role you’ve played, that has captured your imagination and your heart – someone that you don’t actually know, but that still somehow resonates with you?

Kate Mulgrew:  Certainly that was true of Saint Elizabeth Seton. When you play a saint, you know, it’s a little spooky. Sort of have to get permission from God to play a saint! Literary characters… I don’t know.  And I would say Hepburn was sort of that way, too. The privilege and the responsibility of it.  Because she lived.  And the same thing goes for Elizabeth Seton, because she lived.  This little Protestant woman who had five children and converted to Catholicism and became a great, great saint.  And I was so young when I played it, you know?

Totally Kate:  I know. 

Kate Mulgrew:  I thought, there must be a reason why Michael O’Herlihy is insisting on me. Why he believed I was the right choice.  So, it all becomes, you know, mystical.

Totally Kate:  Uh huh.  Keeley J wants to know, have you ever tried to search for your ancestors, and if so how far back can you trace your family tree, and what is the most interesting or strange thing that you’ve learned about one of your ancestors?

Kate Mulgrew:  Well, I have a mixed report about them.  I know we’re Irish.  We’re all Irish. 

Totally Kate:  Completely Irish?

Kate Mulgrew: I think there’s a little Scotch blood in there. On my mother’s side – Kiernan.  And my paternal grandmother was German.  Meizenberg – Genevieve Meizenberg.  Which is not a bad thing - that’s my discipline.  But we fancy ourselves, and we love to sentimentally think that we’re Irish.  And you know it’s a question – were we from Cork, were we from Mayo?  The Mulgrews show up in Northern Ireland, which I don’t like very much, and it appears we were a bunch of cops!  But when I went to Ellis Island I couldn’t trace it all.  So my answer is I don’t think that we have assiduously pursued this.  And I think that’s because we like our myth better than what the reality would be!

Totally Kate:  It’s kind of fascinating to know, but I don’t know that far back in the generations. 

Kate Mulgrew:  No… I mean I love what has happened – my great grandfather was the first millionaire in Iowa.  T.J. Mulgrew.  The first Irish immigrant, completely uneducated, landed in New York, went up to Boston and they said ‘Go west, young man’. And he got to Iowa, and he looked at the farmers and he looked at the fields and he said “These people need ice to keep this milk cold, coal in the winter, and oil.”  And he brought them all – to Iowa.  So I’m very proud of that. 

Totally Kate:  Very enterprising.

Kate Mulgrew:  Uh huh. Uh huh.

Totally Kate:  A lot of discipline and a lot of hard work.

Kate Mulgrew:  Uh huh.  Uh huh. 

Totally Kate:  Angela would like to know what are the two or three things that you feel proudest of having done for your children other than give them life?

Kate Mulgrew:  Isn’t that funny, I was just… I took Alec and his girlfriend out to dinner last night and we were talking about that.  That I gave him life. “Yah, but that’s no big deal!”  I said, “That’s no big deal? Are you crazy?” What was the question again?  What have I done for my children?

Totally Kate:  What are the two or three things that you feel proudest of having done for your children?

Kate Mulgrew:  I’ve loved them deeply.  And I’ve loved them passionately.  I don’t think I’ve been the best ‘by the book’ mother.

Totally Kate:  You’ve probably certainly given them … courage… or you know…

Kate Mulgrew:  Well that’s a double…a double edged thing.  Yes, I’ve given them a creative legacy.  And I’ve given them spirit.  And most importantly, I think I’ve given them compassion.  You know you… you want to do so much for your kids, but … but never enough. 

Totally Kate:  Joni would like to know if you’re still enjoying the relative anonymity of New York City, and what is your favorite thing to do in the City?

Kate Mulgrew:  It’s not the anonymity.  I have it and I don’t have it.  There are days when I get a lot of… you know… stuff.

Totally Kate:  Do you get recognized, I mean like if you walk down the street?

Kate Mulgrew:  A lot.  A lot!  “Hey, Captain!”  You know.  And it’s very … everybody’s in it together in New York.  It’s such an old city.  It’s so founded on labor and the ability to consolidate that labor.  It’s a city that doesn’t tolerate a great deal of elitism.  Except when it does!  But that’s the Upper East Side, and I live on the Upper West Side.  So I feel very much, when I get on the subway in the morning to go to work, which I do, by the way…

Totally Kate:  You ride the subway?

Kate Mulgrew:  All the time. 

Totally Kate:  I’ve never braved the subway.

Kate Mulgrew:  The subway is great.  You’re one of the people in New York.  And everybody’s in it together. Now it’s crowded and messy… you know my husband can’t stand all that stuff, but for me, it’s heaven. 

Totally Kate:  Well he’s not as used to… he’s probably used to driving all the time. 

Kate Mulgrew:  In Cleveland – yes. Yes.

Totally Kate:  Not as much public transportation in Cleveland. 

Kate Mulgrew:  No.

Totally Kate:  Angela has a religious question. 

Kate Mulgrew:  Uh huh?

Totally Kate:  She wants to know, how do you reconcile the problem of great evil in the world with your faith?  Do you believe in the biblical devil prowling the earth and seeking the ruination of souls, or something else as a cause of evil, and if so, what?

Kate Mulgrew:  No to the biblical devil.  No.  Do I believe in the concept of evil?  I believe in a man’s capacity for evil.  Witness the Holocaust, and what we did to six million Jews, and it goes on and on and on.  Look what we’re doing now in Iraq.  Where mothers are strapping bombs onto their own children.  Last week in India a man beheaded his thirteen year old daughter as a sacrifice to the gods.  I think evil is a form of hysteria.  I think it’s fundamentally primitive. And as in all things primitive, it can then easily lose control.  And that’s what happens.  Psychopathology and sociopathology are different kinds of evil.  Criminal evil.  But almost all criminal evil is born out of crimes that were done unto them.  Most murderers have themselves been absolutely debased and damaged, you know?  Otherwise…. So where does it come from?  I don’t know.  But as we are social animals, my suggestion is that it comes from our own inability to reason with ourselves, when you just lose control.  When you hit the kid, or you pull the trigger or you have the drink that’s going to lead you to heroin … and that’s it.  Where there is not enough love there is evil.  That’s what I think.

Totally Kate:  When you are angry, are you more likely to yell, or give the silent treatment?

Kate Mulgrew:  Silent treatment.  And… not attractive!

Totally Kate:  I do that too!

Kate Mulgrew:  Not good.  Not good.

Totally Kate:  And you just bottle it all up.  And if you would yell…!

Kate Mulgrew:  I’ve always done it and everybody in my family does it.

Totally Kate:  I think you definitely find that kind of pattern…

Kate Mulgrew:  Very effective.  And inexcusable.  Much better to yell.  Get it out, get it over.  The silent treatment is punishing.  It’s punitive.  You think you’re punishing everybody else, but you’re the one who’s taking… getting…growing the cancer cells, as you (laughs)… right?

Totally Kate:  I know…

Kate Mulgrew:  It’s a lot of energy, to hold it in.  Yeah.

Totally Kate:  What do you tell yourself when you make a mistake or a bad decision or do something you regret? 

Kate Mulgrew:  First I berate myself. Always.  I’m disappointed in myself and I let myself know that.  Sometimes I can get over it quickly, but if it’s got any kind of size to it, I’ll probably play that out for a while.  And there are lingering regrets and then that’s just something you go to your grave with – as you know handicapped people have to go to their graves with their afflictions – it’s just something you learn to live with.  But I do have a few of those.  I’m getting better at dropping the bags.  If it can’t be helped, it can’t be helped.  I have to move on.  When I feel that I’ve hurt someone else, which is very rare, then I’m badly stung by that.  And I don’t like to ever think that I’ve been petulant or pouty or moody for too long – although I can be if I don’t get enough sleep.

Totally Kate:  What’s your favorite comfort food?

Kate Mulgrew:  Chicken.  Roast chicken. Nothing better to me in the world than a plain roast chicken. Or maybe a little tomato salad. And a glass of white wine.

Totally Kate:  Mashed potatoes and gravy.

Kate Mulgrew:  I can live without potatoes.  I can live without potatoes or bread – white stuff I can live without. But the chicken, tomato, salad – no.  That’s it.  That’s silly!

Totally Kate:  Where do you get your news from?

Kate Mulgrew:  The New York Times.

Totally Kate:  The New York Times.

Kate Mulgrew:  I read the New York Times.

Totally Kate:  So you read the paper… not the television…

Kate Mulgrew:  I read the paper almost every day.

Totally Kate: … the Internet…

Kate Mulgrew:  If I have to look at the TV, which I don’t, it’s CNN.  But it’s mostly the New York Times.  Which is the greatest source of news in the world, as you know!

Totally Kate:  Do you ever look at the Internet for news?

Kate Mulgrew:  No.  Never.  Why, when I have that lovely paper in my hands.

Totally Kate:  Yeah, but it’s so much faster.

Kate Mulgrew:  It’s faster, but there’s something wonderful about the ritual of reading the paper, right?  I can get my coffee, I can sit down with the paper, I can go to the editorial section right away and linger on it, look at it again.  The Arts & Leisure section one lives for, right?  Great.

Totally Kate:  What magazines do you read regularly? 

Kate Mulgrew:  I subscribe to New York Magazine and The New Yorker.  I used to get Newsweek too, but I stopped that because I get the Times.  So I have the Times, New York Magazine and The New Yorker.  It’s enough.

Totally Kate:  Uh huh.

Kate Mulgrew:  Uh huh.

Totally Kate:  Every once in a while, someone surprises you.  Who did most recently?

Kate Mulgrew:  Robbie McNeill’s daughter came to dinner the other night.  She’s in a dance program and a creative writing program at a New York university, and I told Robbie I’d try to keep an eye on her this summer.  And we’ve both been so busy, but I finally found her, and I said, “Please come for dinner” and she asked if she could bring her friend.  My son and some other young people his age came - Taylor’s seventeen and my son is twenty-two.  My sister was there.  I’d say there were about eight people, lovely dinner.  She was just stunning.  She was absolutely remarkable.  And so beautiful.  Smart.  Present.  Composed.  Dignified. Commanding, funny.  I saw my son just sort of… I turned to my sister and I said… She surprised me.

Totally Kate:  Now is this the one with the girlfriend or without a girlfriend?

Kate Mulgrew:  Is this – who?

Totally Kate:  Your son.

Kate Mulgrew:  This is the one with… I know, I know, but she would be too young for him!  And Robbie would shoot me!  But what surprised me, not only was her grace, but how well he did.  How well he did as a father.  Because she simply adores him.  And he formed this exquisite young girl.  And how deeply proud I was at my table, which I kept inside – it was a secret – of my pal Robbie, who was my neighbor for seven years, and who made me laugh – to have been such a part of this extraordinary development. Yeah. There’s a surprise.

Totally Kate:  Do you consider yourself complicated?

Kate Mulgrew:  Yes, I am complicated.  Ask Tim!  And I’m not getting less complicated Connie, unfortunately.  With all emotions, with the array of experiences I’ve had now – they don’t seem to stop, either. My life is… my father once said to me, “You’re a catalyst for drama.”  And I am.  I went to Harstine Island for five days to see my old friend Vicki Jenkins, who’s a writer.   And her family was there, but they’re all psychoanalysts and doctors and … Well, I was like a lightning rod. Everything happened! 

Totally Kate:  You were their subject!

Kate Mulgrew:  Wild stuff happened! Just everything.  It just sort of became this… you know?  Stuff happens to me all the time!  And I think it’s because I am complicated. But it’s mostly because I think people think that I… I’m listening with my whole heart, which I am.  And that they can trust me. And then I just steal it and take it on the stage!

Totally Kate:  Do you tend to exaggerate or underestimate?

Kate Mulgrew:  I completely exaggerate everything!  It’s been my terrible thing since I was born!  I can’t even say, you know, hard boiled egg.  It has to be some kind of hard boiled egg!  No.  Hyperbole. 

Totally Kate:  Do you consider yourself a good judge of character?

Totally Kate:  Very.  Very.  And that’s a kind of … that’s almost a, I would say, gift.  I’m a very astute judge.  I’m seldom, if ever, wrong. I don’t have to say one word.  I could tell you a lot of things about yourself!  I’m very good… I’m a student of it – of human nature so I learned to quickly assess, you know?  And my radar is good.  When I turn that same thing on myself it’s less effective.  But I can be objective and very, very close to the truth.  Yeah.

Totally Kate:  And you trust your instincts? 

Kate Mulgrew:  Yeah.  Although I can second guess myself.  I can second guess my decisions.  I’m doing that less, though.  I’m doing it less, because as you get closer to death – at fifty you’re closer to death, right?  Before fifty you can say I have time to second guess, but after fifty I think it’s ‘I’m making this decision and everybody just has to lump it.’ Because there’s no time to fool around with it.  So I’m feeling that more and more.  I’m jumping on a plane, I’m saying yes.  I mean my friends are astounded.  In the last month alone I went to Harstine – I’ve been promising to go for twenty years – I just jumped on the plane. I went up to Vermont to see my best friend to take her for dinner for her birthday, because I just wanted to do it.  All the things that I would ordinarily … but what if my son comes here, what if… No. Just do it. Things happen when you just do stuff, Connie. When you just say yes, things happen. 

Totally Kate:  Instead of over analyzing everything.

Kate Mulgrew:  Or saying ‘no’, more’s the pity, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Totally Kate:  Do you consider yourself clumsy or graceful?

Kate Mulgrew:  I’m rather graceful.  Yeah.  Clumsy I wouldn’t say I am. I’m too organized to be clumsy, and I’m … I pride myself on a little physical dexterity.  Yeah. 

Totally Kate:  If you had the opportunity to fill in some back story or to add to the story or change the story of Janeway, what would you do?

Kate Mulgrew:  I wonder if I would have given Janeway a child… whom she had left behind.

Totally Kate:  Oh.

Kate Mulgrew:  With the promise that she would be back very quickly. 

Totally Kate:  Hmmm…

Kate Mulgrew:  Do you see? 

Totally Kate:  That’s very sad, though.

Kate Mulgrew:  Very sad.  But it would have absolutely colored her character.  And informed every relationship.  The stakes would have been unbearably high, and it would have been the big secret.  I think that now.  I think that if the child had been, you know, ten.  When you have a scene with the child, and maybe the father, although I don’t know that that marriage has to be as important as the relationship with the child. And a nanny, and it’s all very, very fine – Mommy’s going on another mission – and that last good-bye.  It would have been very poignant to have replayed that again and again over those seven years. Right?  So that.  And of course something could have happened to him in the fifth or sixth season. Like he could have gotten very sick, or died. Which would have made Janeway’s decision then to commit herself to the Endgame…

Totally Kate:  And would some of her decisions have been different about getting home if that was there…

Kate Mulgrew:  You see how it could have informed everything?  I would have chosen certain black holes, I would have dealt with certain species in a different way – the ethics maybe would have been a little questionable in my eagerness to get back there.  But it would have been such a strong human conflict, that the audience I think would have just been … ‘Is she going to sacrifice now her Star Fleet values for what she knows is a sick child at home?’  Good idea, huh?

Totally Kate:  Uh huh!  That would have been a great idea.

Kate Mulgrew:  Great idea.  Anyway we missed it.

Totally Kate:  And I’m sure there will be lots of fan fiction out there with that story in it!

Kate Mulgrew:  Yeah.  And you know what?  I just thought about this sitting with you here right now!

Totally Kate:  That’s a good one!

Kate Mulgrew:  Too bad!  Very good.

Totally Kate:  But would that have appealed to the audience that they were going after? I mean the young male one.

Kate Mulgrew:  I think if it had been …shadowy… so that the father figure was not so much there, but that this child was.

Totally Kate: Especially if they’d made it a son instead of a daughter.

Kate Mulgrew:  Did she adopt this child?  Who is this child? Right?  But clearly her child. And exactly – make it a son. And the son is all – you know – loves Star Fleet.

Totally Kate:  Hmmm…

Kate Mulgrew:  And then, I think, she gets the bad news.  Remember in that episode when we finally get the letters? That the bad news starts coming in.  But first it’s unclear… Connie, we could go on like this for days!!  You’re going to make me cry!

Totally Kate:  So my final question is do you ask for directions when you are lost, or do you keep on going?

Kate Mulgrew:  I ask the first – first man that I can find.  Because men are so good!  Even if they don’t know, it is their nature to help you. And to find out for you.  A woman will say, “I haven’t a clue!” And walk on.  But a guy will always say, “I think it’s … hey hang on a minute, hang on, let me just call my buddy,” you know?!  And they do it.  Men are problem solvers.  So I always ask.  I go into any gas station without thinking, and they’ve always been helpful.  Ladies too, but they’re not as clear as men.  That is, after all, why I got lost in the Delta Quadrant!  Didn’t ask for directions at the gas station!

Totally Kate:  And that’s all my questions!

Kate Mulgrew:  Very good!

Totally Kate:  Thank you!

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Columbus Convention Transcript with links to video