May 20-26, 2001
'Voyager's' Captain Steps Out of Uniform As the 'Star Trek' Series Ends
‘Voyager’ Crew, Mulgrew End a Long, Harrowing Adventure
By Michael E. Hill
Washington Post Staff Writer
It was nearly a month after they turned the lights out for good on the set of “Star Trek: Voyager” and it was only one day after the final session in which actors added supplemental dialog to the program’s soundtrack.
And on this day, Kate Mulgrew, who played Kathryn Janeway, captain of the Starship USS Voyager for seven seasons, was home in bed.
“It’s a time of delicious relaxation,” she said by phone from the West Coast. “Yesterday was the very last day of looping. So I’m truly finished.”
And as she looked ahead to life away from the series, she said, it was also a time of very mixed emotions.
“Voyager” ends its run of original episodes with a two-hour installment at 8 p.m. Wednesday on UPN’s Channel 20.
It’s not giving away the finale to say that Voyager’s predominant quest to return home is fulfilled. But in the “Star Trek” tradition of the unexpected, there are a number of surprises along the way.
Fans of the show—and there were more than 4 million of them watching, according to the most recent Nielsen rating figures—can expect a full range of events and accompanying emotions from birth to death to an encounter with the Borg Queen and some testing of the prime temporal directive.
Meanwhile, Mulgrew was taking stock “I have a mixed reaction to the end of the series,” she said. “It’s an emotional thing. Seven years is a long time, and a very significant chapter in my life. Because it was such rigorous and urgent work—and that’s the word I would use, urgent—I wasn’t allowed time to assimilate my emotions. Now they’re catching up with me.”
There is both sadness and happiness, relief and upset.
“It’s a very bizarre, very strange business,” she reflected. “You work very closely with people under such circumstances and then it ends. The chances of seeing them again is slim.... The lights went out on the bridge, and that was it.”
On the other hand: “I’m happy to be able to reclaim my life,” she said. “I’m proud of what I did. I worked very hard, and was very disciplined and dedicated to Janeway.”
Looking back over her years as Janeway, Mulgrew recalled her sudden immersion into the role and the challenge of holding the heavily male “Star Trek” audience as the first female captain to take the helm of a starship at the center of the show. There was, too, a female audience to be won over. And there were personal changes.
Mulgrew, then 39, an actress originally from Dubuque, Iowa, with credits on stage and in film and television, was plunged into the role of Janeway suddenly when Genevieve Bujold, who’d been cast as the captain, left the show.
“I think the suits were concerned about a woman having the constitution, the physical and emotional energy to carry the show,” she said. Characteristics “you might associate with male strength, but which I have now disproved.”
A question going in was whether the franchise’s young male audience might think of Janeway as their mother sitting in the captain’s chair. How to cope with that expectation? “To be as little like a mother as possible and as much like a captain as possible,” she said.
The fan response “was commensurate with my growth as Janeway,” she said. “I found that both appropriate and interesting.”
There was feminist support for her from the start, she said, “but that was never enough for me. I had to prove that Janeway was important in her own right.”
In the end, she felt she had won over the young males and females too, “who can be quite critical of middle-aged women in power, as they should be.”
“Star Trek: Voyager” is the fourth in a series of “Star Trek” television series dating back to Gene Roddenberry’s original show, which debuted in 1966.
An announcement concerning the prospect of another “Star Trek” television series was expected before this finale airs. The gossip around the Wormhole was that Scott Bakula from the old “Quantum Leap” series would be the next “Trek” captain in a series titled “Enterprise” coming in the fall.
In addition, the 10th feature film generated by the franchise is scheduled for release next year.
Now Mulgrew will turn her attention to her domestic life. “I intend to concentrate on my marriage,” she said. Divorced before “Voyager,” she’s been married for two years to Tim Hagan, a prominent Ohio Democrat.
She’s also eager to spend more time with her sons, ages 17 and 18. “They were very disconcerted by my absence,” she said. “But I was always clear with them. I was an actress before they were even a consideration.”
Professionally, she’s exploring a return to the stage.
“I need to spend time with those I love,” said Mulgrew. ‘Time goes by in an absurdly fast manner.”
Copyright The Washington Post
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