Cover Story: Captainís Log
KATE MULGREW IS BOLDLY EXPLORING
New territory in life, love and as the
DRIVING FORCE ON STAR TREK: VOYAGER
BY MICHAEL LOGAN
Kate Mulgrew is in a mood. The leading lady of Star Trek: Voyager has just finished shooting the last episode of the season and has dashed straight from the set to be photographed and interviewed by TV GUIDE. She is frazzled yet gracious, exhausted yet beautiful, pensive yet prone to bouts of giddiness, like one who has stayed up too late and is suddenly very punchy.
It has been an arduous and emotional but triumphant season for Mulgrew. Her character, Capt. Kathryn Janeway, has in Mulgrewís estimation finally become the vivid, focused, full-blooded creation she wanted her to be when Voyager premiered in 1995. However, there has also been some ego-bruising: last summer, the 42-year old star watched as her bosses brought in Jeri Ryan, a curvaceous actress 15 years her junior, and cast her as the half Borg, half human Seven of None, to boost ratings and publicity. Though itís been difficult, on the personal front, things couldnít be better. Mulgrew is deeply in love with Voyager director Rick Kolbe, and sheís about to spend the first days of her hiatus with sons Ian, 15, and Alec, 14, on a whale-watching expedition in Mexico.
TV GUIDE: Those who remember your younger days in Hollywood Ė when you first came to town in the late Ď70s to star in Kate Columbo Ė say youíre a changed woman. You used to be quite mouthy, quite the upstart.
KATE MULGREW: I was tougher than I am now because I had to be. I came to L.A. a very ambitious, competitive lady, which had served me well in New York. I was extremely outspoken. A rebel. I would say things just for the sake of being provocative, but then that was the way I was raised. But Iím not offensive anymore. Now I want to connect, to communicate. I weigh the impact of what I say. Itís of great importance that I hurt nobodyís feelings.
TVG: What changed you?
KM: Motherhood. And really hard work has changed me, too. There is no time for artifice. Time is very precious in a way it wasnít before.
TVG: What has been the hardest time of your life?
KM: Directly preceding and following my divorce [from stage director Robert Egan] five years ago. I took the boys to Ireland for the summer right before I was cast on Voyager, and, let me tell you, that year was devastating. [Her voice trembles with emotion.] The divorce was a deeply disturbing end to what was once a very good marriage.
The last year has also been a struggle because the closer I get to my children, the harder it is when work gets in the way. I really miss them now that theyíre young men and we can have ďrealĒ conversations. They make me laugh! Itís fascinating to see the changes they go through almost daily, and to miss so much of that because of my schedule is heartbreaking. And Iím getting older, so my body is rebelling. I used to have resilience. Now my body is always saying ďGo home, honey, and take your bath.Ē
TVG: Youíre finally happy with Janeway. What took so long?
KM: At the beginning there were too many cooks in the kitchen. Everybody had a different opinion of what Janeway should be Ė and, despite the showís premise, there was a great trepidation about having a lady in the captainís seat. And I donít discount my part in that. I wanted so much for there to be confidence in my ability to command that I didnít push through with my usual focus of character. Because of the scrutiny, I wasnít as courageous as I could have been. It took time to get everybody to the point of mutual trust.
This season has been a real breakthrough for me. Under the aegis of [co-executive producer] Brannon Braga, the writing has gone to a new level. Brannon gets Janeway. Finally we have a marriage of actor and character.
TVG: Youíve handled the Jeri Ryan situation with great professionalism. Other actresses would have had a fit.
KM: Thatís because I like Jeri. But donít get me wrong Ė itís been tough. Iíve really had to discuss the Seven of Nine situation with my own inner counsellor. My insecurities were very present this season, as well they should be. Iím human. And I rather liked facing my own humanity. Jeri brings a new dimension to the show, and whatever problems I have with that I will resolve. I have tried to contain them because to let them get the best of me would be unattractive. Any emotionalism should be brought to the work, not the workplace. The cast and crew have seen that this has been hard on me, and theyíve been very lovely, very sympathetic. Iím sure Jeri realizes it, too.
TVG: Do you two talk about it?
KM: Weíve talked a bit. Sheís a nice girl whoís under a lot of pressure and has done well. But in my selfishness, in my ego, I think we probably would have turned the show around this year anyway, because I feel that strongly about Janeway.
TVG: Youíve never talked publicly about your relationship with Rick. Will you now?
KM: Rick is a really fine, multi-faceted, extremely smart, deep and excellent human being. And I guess Iím not too shabby either because weíve survived some tough times together. [Kolbe was married at the time that he and Mulgrew began their relationship, and the tabloids were not kind.]
TVG: Was it love at first sight?
KM: Not at all. It wasnít explosive. It was better than that Ė very genuine, very gradual. When the difficulties were overcome, there was finally a little breathing space and then that moment of alchemy where we both realized we did it all for the right reasons: we really do love each other. This relationship is a gift. Regardless of where it goes, I will always cherish his presence in my life. Of course, the hope is that weíll ride off into the sunset together. But right now, the boys have to be the priority.
TVG: Speaking of love, your very vocal opinion on Janewayís love life Ė that she and Chakotay [Robert Beltran] should never consummate their relationship Ė has not gone over well with your fans. Some have gotten downright testy with you.
KM: I think that itís important to vocalize what I feel because the stakes are so high with Janeway. I know itís hard on the fans. This is not what I want, itís what I believe is right. Janeway needs to get the ship home. She canít afford the distraction of a sexual relationship Ė and certainly not with her first officer! If something were to go awry on an emotional level Ė if something awful were to happen between the sheets Ė it introduces the component of instability and Janeway cannot afford that. So, sorry, it wonít fly with me. But a confident, deep and marvelous friendship with Chakotay? Absolutely.
TVG: Why donít the fans see that?
KM: Because they love our characters and want to see them happy. Itís human nature! But trust me on this one: the longer I delay sex with Janeway, the more satisfying it will be.
TVG: So it will happen?
KM: Oh, it will happen with someone, I think. It will come and it will end and it will be devastating and very rewarding. Theyíll have to do something because sheís a passionate woman. But itís good drama to make the audience think itís being deprived. Read Shakespeare; read Ibsen; read Chekhov.
TVG: Say Voyager runs seven years, like The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine Ė then what?
KM: Iím not sure itís going to go seven years, but I think of myself as a good, strong, professional actress with a future ahead of her when this show is over.
Maybe Iíll go back to New York and take a small flat and do theatre, which is probably where I belong. Iíve told my boys I intend to do that when theyíve flown the coop. There are a lot of life changes coming up. Thatís why Iím glad Iím an actress, not a star. Stars donít always have options. But I think Iíve got a few colorful chapters left in me, donít you?
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