"You're reading it, and you're laughing."
Should I call you Madam Mayor?
"Yes, you should, and you should be on your knees. I am the worst honorary mayor this community has ever had. I missed all of my duties. I was asked to go to the ball, which I did attend, and be the grand marshal in the Brentwood parade, and then go to two or three of these chamber of commerce meetings, and I missed them all because, as you know, I’m very occupied in the Delta Quadrant.
"I try to tell them that, and they say, The what? But what about our sewage system? I say, `Oh, get a grip, folks.'"
On the phone, Kate Mulgrew, star of UPN's "Star Trek: Voyager," is everything and nothing like you expect her to be. She speaks with sharp authority and has strong opinions, as befits the woman who plays Capt. Kathryn Janeway, the first female starship captain to helm a “Trek” spin-off. But Mulgrew has a dry wit and a disarming frankness, which doesn't quite jibe with the stiff-necked Janeway.
As the show motors through its fifth season (and Voyager motors through the distant Delta Quadrant, in its quest to get back home to the Alpha Quadrant, our local space neighborhood), Mulgrew is getting her way, making Janeway more like the woman that inhabits her. Part of that process is executive producer Brannon Braga, who this year succeeded Jeri Taylor as the show's high commander.
"He understands," says Mulgrew, "as every genuinely good writer does, that if the actress is not married to the character, neither will be fully believed. And so he's getting it. Janeway now talks with Mulgrew, and vice versa. This had to happen, and it could only happen if they could take the leap of faith that Kate Mulgrew could endow Janeway with the necessary command and still give her my heart. You can't take your real heart away from a characterization on television, because the screen is too small.
"My heart is a little funny, it's very Irish, and it’s very complex, and it’s got a lot of absurd humor. Janeway was a little cerebral at times. So I said, `Brannon, let's forget it. Let me shoot from the hip, let me go with my gut. Let's have some laughs here.'"
But before that could happen, Mulgrew decided she needed a break. "I had such a difficult year in my fourth season," she says, "with the loss of (original cast member) Jennifer Lien, and the introduction of Seven of Nine (played by curvaceous Jeri Ryan in a skintight catsuit and high heels) and the immediate blitz which attended her arrival, and my trying to understand that.
"I thought, the best thing you can do for yourself is to remember that you're an actress, take a part that has nothing to do with `Voyager.'"
So she spent a month of her hiatus in Luxembourg doing a movie called "Riddler's Moon," which aired Thursday , Nov. 5th on UPN's "Thursday Night at the Movies."
Set in Indiana, it has Mulgrew playing Victoria Riddler, a farmer who, along with her neighbors, struggles to eke out a living, but is nearly bankrupt due to a strange blight on the local farmland. Her wheelchair-bound, 16-year-old son, Elias (Daniel Newman), has a telepathic vision of how to save the land, but his only ally is a local ne'er-do-well (Corbin Bernsen).
Eventually, Victoria must make a leap of faith to save her farm and her family, in a climax with a surprising twist.