Interviewed by Bertice Berry. The setting is the interior of a diner, and Kate and Bertice are seated opposite each other in a booth, with people in other tables and booths all around the set.
The interview begins with a clip from "Scorpion", which ends with Janeway leaving the bridge for her Ready Room.
KM: (Laughing) Have you ever noticed when she can't solve a problem, she says "I'll be in my Ready Room."
BB: You have got the best voice.
KM: Thank you. I'll be up for male roles very shortly. It's getting deeper.
BB: Is this your dream job?
KM: This is my dream job. Which is a great thing to say at this age. The age of twenty-two (laughs). At this age, forty-two, it is a great thing to find a role I love so much. I just love Kathryn Janeway, and I've loved her from day one. And I think I'm the only actress in prime time television who doesn't have to show any kind of victimization -- right? -- in this role. I don't have to -- pardon my expression, ladies and gentlemen, this is so strange, everyone is just sitting around, I don't know what to do -- but I don't have to "drop trou", I don't have to apologize, I in no way have to subjugate myself to their wishes or their schemes. She is who she is. She has in fact transcended gender. I think Gene Roddenberry would be very pleased.
BB: Well, we're very pleased. You were raised the oldest daughter of eight? Lot of responsibility.
KM: A lot of baths I had to give. But, you're empowered in a sense, right? I was the oldest girl, the second oldest, I needed to help my mother. She had a child every year, there was no question. She just kept dropping them.. And so somebody had to help, and I was very pleased to do so. And in exchange, I think what she said to me was, "You can do anything, honey." And, that's a great sense of confidence.
BB: Cause you're from Iowa right?
KM: (Laughs) I am from Iowa... Dubuque! I'm sure you're very familiar with it.
BB: I am actually.
KM: everybody else..
BB: A lot of people get trapped in such a situation, but your mother apparently said that you could do anything.
KM: Oh, she was terrific. She understood immediately how passionate I was about acting -- that I was going to be there for a very short time, and that, in that time I was there, I would earn my canonization -- in stripes. I was a good daughter. But she was a better mother. Because I think it's hard to let that kind of help go with... with the intensity, and the generosity which she did it.
KM: She just said, "I think it's time for you... " I left quite young -- seventeen -- and came to New York City -- which, of course, was home instantly to me.
BB: Really !
KM: My father thought I was going to college ! Ha, ha, Daddy ? (raises a toast with her coffee cup)
BB: You told him you were going to college, and...
KM: I said, "I'll go to NYU, Daddy, everything's going to be fine." I don't think I ever attended a class. I went uptown to Stella Adler, and I studied with her, in her conservatory. I don't know how I passed my academics. I did so -- by the skin of my teeth -- downtown -- and after I'd studied with her for about two and a half years, I quit. And, at the age of 18 -- I think 18 and a half -- I got "Ryan's Hope", which was a soap opera...
KM: And, ah... I made my stage debut at the American Shakespeare Festival in "Our Town". It was the time of my life. What a summer that was. But it gets better and better... life gets better and better -- if you live long enough! (Laughing) If you can survive !!
BB: Did that responsibility prepare you for the kinds of things you have to face in Hollywood?
KM: (puzzled) Which ? The.. my upbringing? Yeah, cause I'm grounded. First of all, I'm Irish Catholic. Right? You get grounded fast. Because they don't put up with a lot of nonsense. There are too many kids, there's not enough money, there's not enough time, there's not enough attention... you've got to pull you own, and you'd better do it with some kind of expertise -- some kind of inventiveness, some originality, and you better shut up about it, because you're lucky to be alive. Right? I used to say to her, "Am I pretty? Am I..." And she said "It's just boring... as hell, honey... shut up, read a book, do something interesting with your life..." (suddenly focuses on something in the distance) I'm staring at that action figure over there, and I'm wondering... (laughing) I've done something interesting with my life -- look at that thing !!
BB: I want to ask you about "Mrs. Columbo", because, you know, I was a huge fan, and still am...
KM: Were you?
BB: I watch the tapes, and I love it.
KM: Yeah, it was great, wasn't it?
BB: The role was actually created with you in mind?
KM: Yes, I think it was. He loved -- Fred Silverman was the then-president of daytime at ABC -- and he loved me in "Ryan's Hope". So when he became the president of programming for NBC, he called me up, and he said, "Listen, we'd like you to come to Hollywood and do a spin-off of "Columbo", called Mrs. Columbo." And I said, "Oh, who am I supposed to play, the daughter?" (laughing a lot) "..the visiting beauty queen?" He said, "No, Mrs. Columbo." I said, "You think the audience is never going to go for that? I'm twenty-two years old !" He said, "Well, you'll play thirty-seven. Peter Falk will never make an appearance... you'll have the raincoat, the dog and the car -- it'll be fine." In fact, it was some of the best writing I've ever had the pleasure of executing. It just couldn't stand on both legs. The audience is too smart. They're not going to go for that -- they loved "Columbo" -- he was superb in it. The guy is just marvelous. Right?
BB: I think what it is, is because fans of "Columbo" are ... you're so in tune to everything, you're like, "Well, no, Mrs. Columbo didn't have that, because he said it one time in a phone call..." But you were completely believable as the wife that he always spoke to on the phone. Completely. And still are! (sounds of a baby coughing) There's a baby over there.
KM: Oh, there's a little one over there... (sounding maternal) She all right? She's tired...
BB: Not of you...
KM: No, but, you know...(laughs) She's incredibly aware of me, I'm sure, Bertice !! (pretends to lie down)
BB: We're going to take a break. When we come back, we're going to talk about being the Captain, the first female Captain, and why this guy's so in love that he's got you on a tie, he's got the action figure... and were going to take your calls at 1-800-xxx-xxxx right after this. (close-up of man wearing tie of the four captains... Kate is saying "Where did you get that tie ??"
BB: Were back at USA Live -- and chatting and having a lot of fun with Kate Mulgrew from "Star Trek: Voyager" We got this fax: "Kate, we love you and keep up the good work. Looking forward to the season finale" Eric Yako (sp?) from a comic book store called The Ultimate Universe, wants to know what's going on in the season finale.
KM: Oh, it's the Borg. This is an unbelievable finale. It is wonderful. I saw a rough cut last week. I haven't seen it put together, that's next Wednesday. It frightened me. This is the introduction of the Borg to the Delta Quadrant. We saw them a minute in "Unity" but not really. And the last thing we see in this confrontation -- because Janeway decides to try to negotiate with the Borg, in an effort to save both the Borg and Voyager from an even higher power -- Species 8472 -- which is so terrifying, so without conscience or mercy in its annihilation, right? -- that in order to survive, I feel that if I go to them and very nicely ask if they'll help me (laughing) we can do it together. But, as you know, the Borg also have no conscience, they are not human, they have no reason, they have no mercy, they have only one wish -- if you can call it a wish -- which is to survive -- the survival of the hive. But I go and I plead my case to them, and the last thing you hear -- it's the first time you'll see the hive reenacted, or built, by our special effects department, (extending her arms to show size) and it's just marvelous -- and they say in unison, thousands of voices, "We do not accept your offer." They've got me in the cube, they've got Voyager in their tractor beam, and off we go -- fade to black.
BB: O-O-O-H-H-H-H-H-H. Everybody's sitting here, like...
KM: "Oh, God, what's going to happen ???" I know...
BB: Oh, we can't wait. OK. OK. We've got calls on the line -- Janice from Tennessee -- Hi Janice.
JAN:Oh, Kate, I just love your show, I watch it, I'm glued to it every Wednesday night at 8:00 !!
KM: Thank you, how nice.
JAN:Um, I had a question. Did you ever watch "Star Trek" before you... ended up on a series?
KM: Before I got "Star Trek", did I watch it?
KM: No, Janice, I did not.
JAN:You didn't. Oh, no. Well, I also saw you when you were co-hosting with Regis. So, did you all go out on a date afterwards?
KM: Did I go out on a date with Regis Philbin?
JAN:No, the man --
KM: Oh, you mean the divinely handsome Michael Nouri. That's who you're talking about, right? No, but he followed me over to "The Rosie O'Donnell Show"... It was a nice day -- for a middle-aged lady -- (makes a pouty face and then laughs)
BB: We have a question someone here wants to ask -- this is the man who's wearing you on his tie.
KM: His tie, oh god... (climbing up to her knees on the seat) Show this tie, it's just outrageous.
BB: It's great.
KM: Look at me, I look like I'm ready to kill all three of them (makes a fierce face). They could have me smiling a bit. Yes, sir?
TIE MAN: Who's really the back side of your action figure... you said, you always said you didn't want to use yours?
KM: A woman with a lovely derriere.
BB: So, we should explain this. You said --
KM: I have the Irish Catholic disease. No bottom. Right? Straight up and down. So they come, and they measure you -- for the action figures and everything -- and I said, "Please, could you get that beautiful girl, who's actually got a bottom -- and we'll take her measurements and we'll put that onto ... me. (Kate grins)
BB: So the action figure is almost correct?
KM: It's -- (she stretches to look at the action figure again) Oh, god, I hope not!! Prissy! (?) Catty! (?) (unintelligible) Look at it !! (laughing hysterically) You want to meet her in a dark alley?? I don't know....
BB: But it's doing very well.
KM: Very well, yes.
BB: It's doing extremely well. It's so well that, you meet fans, young women, who say they want to go into science because of your character.
KM: Yes. This is the most moving aspect of the whole thing -- almost more than the playing of it, which is my great joy, is learning -- and this is true, I mean, I can tell you this without hyperbole, which is very rare (laughing) -- I have impacted, or Captain Janeway has, the lives and the choices, the career choices of many young women. I know this for a fact, because they write me, and they come to see me, and when I went to the White House, I was told in short order by thirty of them -- "We're going to MIT because you've inspired us." And believe me, you suddenly realize it's no... just... no job. This is a terrific responsibility and a great privilege.
BB: Yes, it is, and you're great at it.
KM: Thank you.
BB: And I've read so much about you being a great mom, too.
KM: You have? Thank you, really.
BB: What do your kids say about -- are they like, so proud...?
KM: I have teenage sons... (gets solemn) Shall we have a martini? Um... I adore my sons, so let's just be -- they're Number One. They always have been Number One, and they'll be Number One until I die. And they know that. So, if things are good, it's because they know that. Right? And I get down on the floor... we have a pretty passionate relationship. Puberty's tough ! But they're wonderful boys . And I think they're proud of me... I've often said that I don't ... there's no solution to this working-mother thing. Right? It's a diabolical state of affairs (looking at Bertice) -- you have it yourself. You're in a constant state of guilt and conflict. But what you say to the children is, "Honey -- I was born with this passion. And if I can give this to you, in any way, instill in you this same kind of passion -- I will have done a pretty good job as a mother. If I sacrifice this to stand over the stove and make you Cornish hens all day -- right? -- I'll probably shoot myself." And they say, "You're right, Mother." But life becomes extremely austere. I go to work, and then I come home. That is it. There is no other life. And I don't mind it. I really don't mind it.
BB: It is a great job.
KM: Mmm hmm.
BB: It's a dream job, and we're going to continue watching every Wednesday night on UPN. Thank you so much for being here.
KM: Good. It was my pleasure. Thank you.
BB: And thank you for being here in your action figure !
KM: Thank you. (looking at the tie man) And thank you for being here with the tie !
BB: (shaking Kate's hand) Thank you.
KM: Good. Thank you.