|During a brief stop-off in Europe after season four of Star Trek: Voyager had finished filming, STAR TREK Monthly managed to catch up with Kate Mulgrew to find out how life was treating the actress...|
Kate Mulgrew is in high spirits. At the time of our run-in
with her at a convention in Bonn, Germany, the hard-working Star Trek:
Voyager actress has already been on hiatus from the show for over a month
and is about to spend some of her well-earned summer sailing up the Aegean
sea with her family. "Not a bad way to spend your birthday," laughs the
actress, who celebrated her 43rd birthday at the end of April. It's fairly
obvious how pleased Mulgrew is to be away from the daily rigours of playing
Captain Kathryn Janeway of the U.S.S. Voyager. "1 have to be very well
prepared from the moment that I walk in to the moment that I leave," she
explains. "I get up at 4 o'clock and then work from 5:00am until around
9:00pm that day. My life precludes any normal kind of activity. It's also
very technical. It's like speaking Greek or Japanese! I spend the weekend
reading the script three or four times. If I understand the text and what's
going on, I can never not know what's going on. Regarding the work itself,
I don't think I've every worked this hard in my life."
Season four, of course, saw the addition of a new cast member and the loss of an existing one. Mulgrew told us in Issue 33 how sad she was to see her good friend Jennifer Lien (Kes) leave the show but felt hopeful about the arrival of Jeri Ryan, a talented actress who brought life to the new Borg drone SEVEN OF NINE, who is slowly and with difficulty integrating herself into the family of the crew. "Seven has done a lot of saving the ship," Mulgrew explains, referring to the strong presence of the new character in season four. "I think we need to nullify the balance, where everyone gets a chance to save the ship."
Of course, one of the relationships on the series which most concerns viewers is that between Janeway and her first officer, Commander Chakotay. "I think it's time something happened between them," she admits. However, Mulgrew explains that she would like to see her character have a serious relationship or none at all. "I think sex for a female captain is not the same as for a male captain. I'm not being sexist, but who wants to see their female captain running around having love affairs? I have to run a ship! I don't think I can afford that kind of indulgence at the moment, but I can afford an intimate relationship with someone I love very much."
Turning to the series itself and its progression, is there anything Mulgrew would like to see happen or that she would like to change about the show, as it speeds towards its fifth season? "I think when any group of people are together in confining circumstances, tensions arise. I think we need a little bit more of that. It must be awfully lonely and frightening to be out there for four years."
One of the things viewers will have noticed this season is the changes to Janeway's hairstyle. Over the four years since the series began, Mulgrew has endured several changes to her very full head of hair, something which previous captains in Star Trek have escaped. "Sooner or later captains lose their hair," she comments. "I'd like to lose my hair. They never leave it alone. These guys are so obsessed with my hair because I'm a girl. They didn't bug Patrick Stewart, did they?"
Nevertheless, the actress is extremely happy with the development of her character over the last season. "I'm constantly challenged by Janeway," she enthuses, "which is the only way for me to survive. I am always looking to make her infinitely more interesting than she was the season before. It takes guts. I'm very excited by the possibility of fulfilling her. Plus I feel like I know her better every day."
It's clear from Kate Mulgrew's enthusiasm for her role, her fellow actors and the series as a whole that, on a personal level, she has gained a great deal from Star Trek. "This has been the most extraordinary four years of my life," she admits. "I've been a professional actress for 29 years now and I was 39 when I got the part. Star Trek: Voyager has opened up new worlds for me. Star Trek is not just a part of my life, it's a life. Every day of my life I feel the privilege and responsibility of my role.
"I've never been so happy in my whole life."