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Audio files of this interview can be found at the end of the transcript.
Kate Mulgrew: Bill and Marla, you're just about ready for a nap 'bout now, huh?
Marla: You know we are! You know it!
Kate Mulgrew: What time do you all get up in the morning?
Bill: I get up at around two.
Marla: I get up around four.
Kate Mulgrew: It's unbearable.
Bill: Thank you!
Kate Mulgrew: And which of you… which of you have children?
Marla: I do.
Kate Mulgrew: Ah, Marla.
Marla: (Laughs) And you know, because you've got two.
Kate Mulgrew: Well yah, but you know early morning stuff I think is… is a particularly arduous grind, and tough on the kids, because you want to give them everything when you see them, and you really don't have it, do you?
Marla: I know.
Bill: No, not at that point in the morning.
Marla: When I get home from work I'm not as fresh as I could be, let's say.
Kate Mulgrew: No, no, it's a hard job.
Kate Mulgrew: Well, my hat's off to both of you.
Marla: Acting? Come on! You know you guys have the early calls as well.
Kate Mulgrew: Well, I've often said, you know, I'm working in the theatre now which is glorious by comparison to episodic television, which I think is probably the most grueling.
Marla: Even more than soap operas? 'Cause you did that too.
Kate Mulgrew: Oh yes. You know that's a total misnomer, Marla. I mean that's a complete overstatement of… of the demands of a soap opera, which are really fundamental.
Kate Mulgrew: Sure. Because you're not expected to really craft it. I mean you are – I don't want to … I don't want to shoot myself in the foot here.
Kate Mulgrew: But you've got overnight to do it. I mean bing, bang, there it is.
Bill: It's what you get. That's it.
Kate Mulgrew: In episodic television you're meant to endow the thing, you know? With all of the graces that you can engender and that makes it trebly difficult. So I would say by far that's been the toughest challenge of my … career.
Marla: You mean being Captain Janeway…
Kate Mulgrew: Probably Captain Janeway was the toughest, yeah.
Marla: You know Billy and I are huge, huge…
Marla: …huge Star Trek fans.
Kate Mulgrew: Are you?
Kate Mulgrew: When did you ever watch it? You must have been in a coma by the time it came on!
Billy: (Laughs) Well that's what they make TIVO for!
Marla: Well they didn't have TIVO then, really.
Kate Mulgrew: I forgot about TIVO.
Billy: That's why they make VCRs.
Marla: VC… yeah, I taped a lot of those shows. Yeah, absolutely. Good job.
Kate Mulgrew: Well thank you for that. Thank you.
Marla: I've got to ask one question, now this is kind of silly, but you've almost got the Tony Danza syndrome going on.
Kate Mulgrew: You mean my voice is as deep?
Marla: No! Because Kathryn Janeway. Now you're going to play Katharine Hepburn. And even in Mrs. Columbo it was Kate Columbo.
Kate Mulgrew: That's correct.
Marla: Do you al… is it in your rider that you have to …
Kate Mulgrew: And another Katharine in a play, coming up.
Marla: I know! So is it…
Kate Mulgrew: I think I just stimulate this kind of thing, you know!
Kate Mulgrew: They just look at me and say 'well that's it. It's right there in one glass of water'!
Marla: Your name is Kate – go with it!
Kate Mulgrew: Yeah. And why not? Clear as a bell, right!
Marla: Good Irish name. You've got to love it…
Kate: And I suppose you want to talk about the life I'm doing of Barbara Stanwyck!
Billy: Uh … Yeah. That's it!
Marla: Yeah, right!
Billy: Yeah, yeah. Okay.
Kate Mulgrew: Or is it Bette Davis?
Marla: You know what - you are going to be a perfect Katharine Hepburn, I just couldn't think of a better person for the role.
Kate Mulgrew: Well I've been doing her for some time, you know this has been going on for almost three years.
Billy: I've heard the commercials for …
Kate Mulgrew: Have you?
Billy: For your performance here, and I've got to tell you, it's frightening!
Kate Mulgrew: (Laughs) Bill – it's frightening?
Billy: It's frightening!
Marla: No, but frightening in a good way!
Kate: I prefer uncanny! Can't somebody say gorgeous? Heavenly?
Billy: Oh, all right. Gorgeous. Heavenly!
Billy: And yet frightening!
Kate Mulgrew: Well you'll actually have to see it, and I hope the both … the two of you get a chance to see it.
Marla: I'd love to.
Kate Mulgrew: It's one of those things that absolutely requires the dynamic between the actor and the audience. And I think that that's why it's been so successful – it has a real urgency and a very clear intimacy. And I've done everything within my power – myself and Matthew Lombardo, the playwright – to honor Katharine Hepburn. I was in no way interested in doing an impersonation of Miss Hepburn. I find it not only pedantic and boring, but rather insulting.
Marla: Uh huh.
Kate Mulgrew: She was much bigger than an impersonation. So in my endless digging and unearthing of the reality of this person, what you get in those two hours on the stage is what I believe was her pulse.
Kate Mulgrew: And her heart.
Marla: Well you know that's funny because of course in Aviator Cate Blanchett, again with the Tony Danza syndrome …
Billy: Yeah, yeah…
Marla: … Does Katharine Hepburn and a lot of people said, impersonation.
Kate Mulgrew: Well…
Marla: Did you have a feeling about her performance?
Kate Mulgrew: … In all fairness to Miss Blanchett, who is a great actress, the movie wasn't about Katharine Hepburn…
Marla: Uh huh…
Kate Mulgrew: It was about Howard Hughes.
Kate Mulgrew: She probably had thirty minutes screen time, from soup to nuts.
Kate Mulgrew: And my hat's off to her. She went for it, and she went for it in a way I don't think any one of those other young actresses probably would have had the courage to do.
Kate Mulgrew: It was broad, but you knew who she … who she was.
Marla: I thought she did a pretty good job, I mean, I was pretty…
Kate Mulgrew: Yeah.
Marla: … I was amazed. But I think, of course, you're going to do a better job… come on!
Kate Mulgrew: Well, the longer you get to… to immerse yourself in a marriage, the better the marriage should be. And this has turned into one hell of a love affair. Very unexpectedly because I never liked her very much.
Marla: Oh, really?
Kate Mulgrew: No, I… I was compared to her a great deal when I was young, and I found it irritating and very disconcerting. And I wanted to be an actress in my own right.
Kate Mulgrew: So that when this came to pass in my late thirties, I thought, "Oh my God." But the way that he structured this piece and the way that the polarity of her life – you know in Act One I'm very young and in Act Two I'm seventy-six.
Kate Mulgrew: It was just splendidly written, and underneath it all I could see that Matthew Lombardo understood that I… I think that … that Katharine Hepburn was all about the vulnerability.
Marla: Uh huh.
Kate Mulgrew: That she had to cover up in order to become the extraordinary star that she did become.
Billy: Hey Kate, hang on for a second. We're talking to Kate Mulgrew this morning. She plays … she portrays… she becomes Katharine Hepburn. The performance is called "Tea at Five". It's June 2nd through the 19th at the Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco. Hang on, we'll do more with Kate in just a couple of seconds. It's Mix 106.5.
Bill: Hey, it's Bill and Marla in the morning and it's Mix 106.5. Our special guest hanging on the line – we're talking to Kate Mulgrew. You remember of course, probably most from Star Trek: Voyager as Kathryn Janeway. She's portraying Katharine Hepburn in "Tea at Five", which is going on June 2nd to the 19th at Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco. Now this is a one-woman deal, right?
Kate Mulgrew: That's right.
Bill: Is that more difficult?
Kate Mulgrew: That would be… me! (Laughs)
Kate Mulgrew: Yes, it's difficult, and at times it's quite lonely. On the other hand, I'm free as a bird, although it's a bird without a net. It's… I used to think it was a mountain that I had to scale every night – now I… I look at it very differently. Of course that should happen as something evolves, but I… I take joy in it. However there is a real discipline to a one-person show. I can't take my eye off the ball for one second.
Kate Mulgrew: And the concentration is by absolute necessity – heightened and made to be, actually, sort of laser-like under these circumstances. But then again, you know, that's what I dig, so …
Marla: I know… you know…
Kate Mulgrew: What can I tell you!
Marla: I can believe it because we've been doing a morning show together for now for so many years – seven years or so – that it's nice to have – when you have a partner – you have someone to lean on, you know. So when you're by yourself, there's no one to lean on.
Kate Mulgrew: Yes. Exactly.
Bill: Feels a little empty, otherwise.
Marla: Absolutely. Hey, you know, we were looking at your bio. You were twenty-three when you did the Mrs. Columbo role.
Kate Mulgrew: I was. A mere pup.
Marla: Now, but you never really did… I don't really remember like - that love affair between you and Peter Falk!
Kate Mulgrew: Because I never met the man!
Marla: Ever, right? I mean you were always alluding to…
Kate Mulgrew: He very wisely kept his distance from me!
Kate Mulgrew: You know Columbo was such a hit in and of itself.
Marla: I know. And they always talked about his wife, his wife, his wife and you – you know when you came out – I frankly felt it was unbelievable.
Kate Mulgrew: Yeah. Rather… rather improbable, huh?
Marla: I mean, come on! You were hot, he was old…
Kate Mulgrew: It turns Columbo into a kind of pervert, doesn't it?
Marla: It certainly does! I mean, thank God you were of age!
Kate Mulgrew: One could say a happy pervert, but I don't want to…
Bill: He always did… he always did have an unusual smile, so ... you know!
Marla: And a wandering eye!
Kate Mulgrew: (Laughing) Marla, that's terrible!
Marla: I know it is! I couldn't resist it though, you know!
Kate Mulgrew: Yeah. But I had the dog and the car!
Marla: That's right. That's right!
Kate Mulgrew: It's a funny thing, but in my experience you know, wonderful series usually don't last too long.
Marla: Yeah. You know how it goes.
Bill: Hey, and before we let you go, big thanks for all the work you do for the Alzheimer's people.
Kate Mulgrew: It's very important to me, my mother is dying of Alzheimer's.
Kate Mulgrew: And in fact I just left her yesterday.
Kate Mulgrew: And so I would ask everybody to think about it in their lives and see if they can help in any way.
Bill: Yeah, my wife's grandmother passed away of it and her aunt is on the way out now because of it, too.
Kate Mulgrew: Excruciating.
Bill: Yeah, it's a tragedy.
Kate: Yes, we have to raise some money for further research.
Marla: Breaks your heart.
Bill: I know that you auctioned off your Janeway uniform for charity.
Kate Mulgrew: I did. It's on eBay right now, trying to get some money for research to go to the national office.
Bill: That's a good thing.
Marla: And you know, I want to say that Kate is a pixie person, Billy.
Bill: Um huh.
Kate Mulgrew: A pixie person?
Marla: We say that everybody in Hollywood are pixie people, because you're only what, five/five, right?
Kate Mulgrew: I'm five/five, but I'm not in Hollywood, Marla, I'm in New York.
Marla: Yeah, okay! She's an actor on the stage…
Kate Mulgrew: That becomes a giant in New York! (Laughs)
Marla: That's right. Okay! So there you go!
Bill: All right.
Kate Mulgrew: Things are good.
Marla: Good. Now we really look forward to seeing you at "Tea at Five" …
Kate Mulgrew: And I thank you both very much.
Marla: Thank you! Really!
Kate: And take care of those little kids of yours.
Marla: (Laughs) Just one, and I think that's plenty!
Kate Mulgrew: Try to get a nap, okay?!
Marla: Thank you, I love that!
Kate Mulgrew: It was a great pleasure talking to both of you.
Marla: You too.
Bill: Kate Mulgrew, everybody! There you go.
Kate Mulgrew: Bye, bye!
Bill: Thank you, bye, bye.
Kate Mulgrew: Thank you. Bye!
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