Twenty Questions for Kate Mulgrew
February 2005
Recently Kate Mulgrew answered  questions submitted to her by visitors to the Totally Kate website. Thanks to everyone who submitted their questions - and there were many! And a very special THANK YOU to Kate Mulgrew for taking the time to answer! 
Please do not repost or hot-link to text or images. 
1.You've been playing Katharine Hepburn now for over three years. Are you still learning about her? Is she still surprising you? Is there anyone else whose life you would like to explore, and subsequently play? – Brenda

I am continually learning about Katharine Hepburn, which makes playing her a constant challenge – she continues to inspire and delight me. Would love to play the great Italian actress, Eleonora Duse. 
2. Hi I'm Nina from Denmark, my question for Kate is: If you could wish for anything in the world, what would it be? It has to be something for you!

The well-being and personal growth of my sons and the health and happiness of my husband. 
3. Was there one moment on Voyager where Kate's Janeway and the writer's Janeway were in complete harmony? I am trying to ask what was the quintessential Janeway scene or moment?  The moment that you felt the audience was seeing the whole Janeway as you understand her and want her to be understood. – jc

“Counterpoint” with Mark Harelik. This episode revealed Janeway/Mulgrew at her creative best and gave me great satisfaction. 
4. From the captivating Book 'The Right Words at the Right Time' by Marlo Thomas, my question to Kate is just that - Was there a moment when words made all the difference - something that someone has said which stayed with you a lifetime and maybe changed your life forever?  Would you share that moment and those words with us? Thank you – Karen

My mentor, Stella Adler, told me when I was very young: “Only the work will lift you up!” She was right. 
5. My question - What's the one thing you would do each day just for yourself, if you had the time and energy once you've looked after everyone else? – casper

Prepare the evening meal – I am a serious amateur and love the therapeutic/challenging aspects of cooking a great meal, served to loved ones. 
6. Could you please ask Kate this Question?  - We all know that many young aspiring actors and actresses have asked you for advice on a career in acting, if you could meet one person that you have never known previously about acting who would it be (besides Katharine Hepburn) and what would you ask? Christi from Iowa

Eleonora Duse and I would ask: Is suffering inherent in the craft? How does one find truth without fear? 
7. At the end of "Tea at Five", Hepburn reflects on what she'd change about her life if she could have an alternate reel, and her answer is "Not a goddamn thing". When you look back on your life and career up to this point, is there anything you wish you had done differently? What would you like to change if you could have that alternate reel? ~Sabine

I’m with Katharine Hepburn – “Not a goddamn thing” – philosophically, life unfolds as it must. 
8. In 40 years when someone is producing a one-woman play, in two acts, on the life of Kate Mulgrew:

What should be the title of the play? 

“Split Focus”

At what age should the first act occur and what should it focus on?

Early 30’s – children & career

At what age should the second act occur and what should it focus on?

Late 40s – marriage and career

Where should the play take place?

 L.A. and New York City

Which actress will be starring in the play?

Someone breathtaking beautifully and heart-stoppingly talented. 

Will you go to see it?

No, I’ll be dead. 


9. - I've read recently that you are going to take some time out for yourself & Tim.  How long does it normally take for you to get restless to be doing something again?

Normally 24 hours. This year, so far, I’m much more relaxed. 

 Now that one of your sons has decided to go into acting, would you like to work with him?

Absolutely, if he’s earned his stripes. 

 If you could be any animal, what one would you be?

An otter: I once watched a documentary and learned that otters are always happy, in any season, in any act of play or work. 

And just for the laugh, - If you (as Janeway) were to face Seven of Nine in a "Celebrity Deathmatch" - who would win?

She would, by default. 

Olivia Fitzgerald
Dublin, Ireland

10. In preparing for "Tea at Five" you've said that you believe the defining moment of Ms. Hepburn's life was the death of her brother. What has been *the* defining moment of your life?

Probably the death of my sister, Tess, when I was 18 years old. 
11. What do you love most about your home? – Beth

My mother’s paintings. My photos. The view. 
12. I recently attended the staged reading of Schiller's "Mary Stuart" at Classic Stage Company in New York. I'd be interested to hear your opinions about staged readings as a form of performance. 

They are really showcases and are meant to determine the “doability” of the piece as a full production. 

Among the questions that occur to me -- As an actor, what do you do differently to prepare for a staged reading as opposed to a performance that will use full blocking, sets, and costumes?  (Besides not having to memorize lines and complex blocking, I mean.)  Is a staged reading more difficult in certain ways than a full performance (minimized gestures and body language, less direct interaction with other actors, etc?)

No, a staged reading is only fun because no one is being judged and the sky’s the limit. 

In terms of Schiller's play, it struck me that "Mary Stuart" might actually work better as a reading than as full production.  It's a play of "talk," full of complicated court intrigue and elaborate language, with some of the most dramatic events (such as Mary's death) taking place offstage.  Do you think it would be a success if fully staged?

Certainly, which was the intention. 

I enjoyed the performance very much.
Thank you.
Mary McConnell

13. What is your greatest extravagance? – Dottie

Flowers, flowers everywhere. 
14. Here are my questions for Kate:
Each performance of Tea at Five can be so different depending on the day of the week, matinee or evening show, snow storm, etc.  How quickly can you tell how "good" the house is?  Does it change even from Act One to Act Two?

I can judge the responsiveness of the house almost immediately and then it just grows. 

You seem to "inhabit" Kate Hepburn so much more deeply now, with subtle pauses in the first act (on the couch drinking your tea; at the ottoman stage right).  And I so thoroughly enjoy your "chuckles" as you reach for the bottle (Scotch?) to freshen up your cup in the second act.  At what point were you comfortable enough to add these touches?  Were they added in collaboration with Matthew Lombardo (playwright/producer) or John Tillinger(director)? Or are they you enjoying "being" Kate? - Carol LaPlante

These subtle “touches” simply evolved as my performance deepened in truth and confidence and were, I hope, satisfactory to Matthew Lombardo and John Tillinger. 

15. If you were given a $100 gift certificate, what store would you spend it in? And do you have a favorite article of clothing or jewelry? – Kelly

Barnes & Noble  - Books
My engagement band. 
16. Several part question I guess. Kate, have you been able to see The Aviator, if so what do you think of Cate Blanchett's performance as Hepburn? Do you think she was able to portray Hepburn without being an impersonation?  Being that you are so intimate with the Hepburn character, do you think Blanchette gave her the vulnerability that you yourself have been able to portray.  Has her portrayal or anything in The Aviator changed how you play the character? If you haven't see it do you plan to and why or why not? - Cina

Judge not, lest ye be judged! I thought she was grand and very brave. 
17. Is there anything that fans do that you wish they wouldn't? or something a fan has done that you wish s/he hadn't. It may be something that is bothersome that we may not even realize is a problem. I'd like to know and I'm sure others would so we don't do it, ever. Don't bring calla lillies to the stage door or whatever?? Janesway79

Oh, please, bring on the calla lilies – I have no criticism of this, the most generous fan base in the world. 
18. -How do you feel right after ending the second scene, when you leave Hepburn and go back to be just yourself, more like relieved or is there a tiny "ache" for leaving her alone up there?

Relieved, drained, exalted, all at once. 

I know you tend to prefer warmer weather to cold but have you ever made an angel in the snow? - Emma

Many, many times – wouldn’t it be lovely to go out that way? 

19. What makes you nostalgic? What do you miss most about being a child? And if you nag your kids, or if they think you do, what do you nag them about? – Merl

Nostalgia: Mother and Dad and Derby Grange, drinks under a full moon, soft music and laughter.  I nag about mediocrity and everything it implies. 
20. First, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.  I would like to ask what becoming a star, the focus of so much attention, interest, and admiration, has been like for you.  Was stardom sudden and surprising for you or did it seem a natural and gradual development of your career?  How do you cope with it?  Has celebrity changed you, changed how you see yourself or how you see others, changed how you live your life? - Amy

Sudden stardom – how odd. I see myself as a working actress who is continually challenged to find and do good work and whose celebrity is merely a means to go deeper and help others.