VOY@15: Kate Mulgrew Talks To TrekMovie About 15 Years of Voyager & Beyond [AUDIO]

Our 15th anniversary celebration continues today with a very special exclusive interview with Captain Janeway herself, Kate Mulgrew. The actress talks about what it was like at the beginning, the end, in between and beyond, including how she still hopes to once again play Janeway. We also talk about hair. You can read the full interview or listen to it, below.


Listen to the telephone interview with Kate Mulgrew .

Interview Transcript

This week, as I am sure you are aware, is the 15th anniversary of the airing of “Caretaker”…

I can’t believe that. I really can’t believe that. In fact, I wouldn’t have been aware, had you not contacted us. That is absolutely inconceivable. It seems at the most five years ago. Isn’t that amazing?

So, looking back, now that you have the perspective of time, what do you think is the lasting legacy of Voyager, within Star Trek?

Probably, without putting to fine a point on it, the first female captain. That was a bold and I think very wise decision, by the powers that be at Paramount and UPN. It will be remembered that way. It will be remembered as an intrepid ship, an interesting crew, a very innovative creation of The Doctor, and what that meant with technology and embracing humanity and vice-versa. Janeway’s grasp of loneliness and aloneness. The distinction between the two. Her love for her crew and the transcendent nature of that love, which I am not sure had been seen before.

You talked about the first woman captain and the importance of that. Do you feel that looking at your fans and the fans of the show versus other shows, that Voyager was more successful in bringing in women and girls as fans?

I don’t think there is any question about that. I know that! And that is as it should be. We are a society and a culture that lives by example and perseveres by example and so if they see a woman in the captain’s seat, they are drawn to follow that journey. I know that I effected a great many burgeoning young scientists, great girls from all walks of science were drawn to Janeway and her journey. That is perhaps the most gratifying aspect of that decade of my life, that I know that I influenced and impacted so many young lives. And endorsed so many middle-aged women that I think probably otherwise felt, not persona non grata, but society didn’t take them as seriously as their male counterparts. So it is just another leg up on the ladder.

Mulgrew: Trek’s first woman captain was an inspiration

Speaking of fifteen years ago and the shooting of “Caretaker”, was that intimidating for you? Not only stepping into the shoes of those three male captains, but also more literally stepping into the shoes of another actress? [Genevieve Bujold, who was replaced by Mulgrew after 2 days on the job]

I would have to say that I am not easily intimidated, least of all when it comes to my career. This I regarded from the very beginning as an opportunity. There was no time for intimidation. If anything, I was shot out of the cannon and just threw myself on the spears. And as it turns out I survived! [laughs]

Did you watch any of the dailies with Bujold before you started?

No. I had no interest. Why would I do that? That would be like hanging myself. It happened very fast. It was a knock out. I won. I went to work four days later.

Then you had to do it again when they changed your hair.

They didn’t stop changing my hair until I told them I was going to walk off the lot, if they did not take their hands away from me.

How many styles did they go through?

I don’t know but it was appalling. And just another example of hiring a female. I don’t mean to be cruel, but they certainly didn’t do that with Patrick Stewart did they? [laughs]…Men don’t know it is dealing with this. You have no idea how irritating it is when you have ten people buzzing around you like bees, like gnats, and it is all about how you look, but you have to give a five-page monologue on the vortex or the nebulae or whatever the hell it is, and your bosom and your hair and your this and your that. That is where it is uneven, very uneven.

“Hair” video shows the frustrating collection
of styles Mulgrew had to endure

I remember Chase Masterson from DS9 telling me that the actresses would have to spend as long doing beauty makeup as the ones playing aliens spent with all the prosthetics and stuff. I found that surprising.

It is not surprising, it is appalling. We are hired for our looks to begin with. If I were funny looking I wouldn’t have been hired for Captain Janeway. They needed and wanted and had to have a good looking female lead, but then they put you through your paces, it is absurd!

You talked about Janeway’s arc. When I have spoken to Bob Picardo he said he would hang out where the writers smoked to pitch them on ideas…

He did do that. Bob had a little more time that I had.

But did you also work with the writers, did you have ideas?

Of course I did, and I felt very strongly. I was very much part of the Leonardo da Vinci story. I wanted so much to explore her creative side. I thought that would be quite interesting to see over seven years, how Janeway grew creatively, imaginatively. And how she used the holodeck. And so that was me. I think that great themes and questions, such as suicide, were me. Loneliness, as it pertains to a female captain, was me. Going from where she began in her child-bearing years and who when it ended was not! Quite a story to tell there. They touched on that in a gingerly fashion, not a particularly thorough one. I can understand that, the captain is meant to lead. All these things were very interesting and sometime haunting refrains of what it must be like to be stranded in an unknown quadrant for seven years with a crew of 155 whom you are responsible.

Janeway’s ongoing holodeck friendship with daVinci
– one of Mulgrew’s suggestions

During the show there were a lot of debates in the writers room about how to approach the show. Should it be more serialized, more character focused, or more sci-fi focused, etc. Were you aware of these philosophical debates at the time? Did the cast ever weigh in on what they wanted?

Yes, but we were only tangentially involved. Don’t forget we were very separated. We came to work before it was light out and put right into the makeup chair and thrown onto the soundstage. And our soundstages were far removed from the writing offices. In order to see [Rick] Berman or [Brannon] Braga, I would have to get a cart and go over and have to get a break, which I never got. And with just half-hour for lunch, these things are very difficult, and I was shooting up to eighteen hours a day. So you are talking about time and the separation of church and state. [laughs] I mean, Berman, who I just had lunch with last week, he was always very responsive, as was Brannon. I always thought of Brannon as being exceptionally talented. And they listened to me. They listened with great attentiveness, as the numbers grew. They wanted to see if I could carry the male demographic and once that was established they were more respectful.

The show ended with “Endgame”, were you happy with how the show wrapped up? Did you feel the wrapped up all the loose ends or were there a few you wanted done?

I was very involved with “Endgame” and I completely agreed with that idea. I suggested that somebody has to go done, so let’s have the admiral go down. It had to be the admiral or the captain. You cannot tie things up beautifully and succinctly with a nice bow when it comes to a franchise like Star Trek. Too much has happened and too much is at stake, and who knows when it will come again. I think we did the best that we could. I know it was a controversial ending, but so was [the TNG finale] “All Good Things”. You can’t win when you say goodbye, because goodbye is hard.

Mulgrew as ‘Admiral’ and ‘Captain’ Janeway in Voyager finale “Endgame”
– Mulgrew felt one of them had to die

Speaking of admirals, Admiral Janeway came back in Nemesis. But over the years, were there any discussions or the studio about Voyager, you or the cast, in possible feature films?

I think there were some discussions, of course where ever there is profit, there is conversation, but it didn’t seem to lead to anything. However, I think it is a conversation in space, do you know what I mean? It is a part of the continuum. [laughs] And if it ever has legs, it will be realized. But until that time, but it is always about market value. That is why this current movie [JJ Abrams Star Trek] went back and was a prequel. As a culture, we are hardwired to find young people more interesting than older people. That is just the way it is. But there might be a time for some kind of grand reunion, which would be pretty interesting, don’t you? I would like to see Picard and Janeway and Kirk together, it would be fabulous.

Which Kirk? There are two now.

I am talking about my friend, Bill Shatner.

You would be interested in being involved with the JJ Abrams movies too?

I would be. I would hate to think I have said the final and definitive goodbye to Kathryn Janeway. That was almost a decade of my life. I raised my children during that. I lost a lot and gained a lot. I got married and divorced. It was huge in every single way and formed the rest of my life. You then don’t want to say goodbye to that character. You want to hold that character as long as possible, through everything. [laughs]

Janeway in “Star Trek Nemesis”
– Mulgrew
would like to play her again

I don’t know if you heard, but do you know what they have done to your character in the books?

What? I hope she has taken a lover.

[BOOK SPOILER ALERT] I hate to break the news to you, but she’s dead.

Am I dead? Why did they kill her?

Peter David wrote a book [“Before Dishonor“] where Janeway became the Borg Queen for a little while, to try and instigate, and they tried to rescue her and she died in the process, but then her soul–it’s complicated. But basically she is now with the Q Continuum, so there is always a possibility of her coming back, but they pretty much killed her.

That is all that matters. As long as I am with Q, I am good. [laughs]

Actually, I think it was the female Q, the Suzie Plakson Q.

Oh, well that is a drag, I want to be with John de Lancie!

Outside the world of Star Trek, what can you tell us is going on with Kate Mulgrew in 2010?

Well I am doing this series called Mercy for NBC. I play the mother of the leading lady. That is interesting. I did a movie in the summer called The Best and the Brightest, which will be out this year. And I am looking for a great play. I did Equus last year, but now I am looking for a really great play. And I trust that will come. My life as been very full and very rich in the last nine months. I can tell you that, without elaborating, to make it mysterious. Life is good.

Mulgrew takes a curtain call for “Equus” in 2009
– actress looking for another ‘great play’
(Photo: Walter McBride)

More Voyager Week coverage
TrekMovie is celebrating the 15th anniversary of Star Trek Voyager this week. We have more lined up for the week. You can also check out the previous VOY@15 stories:


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I hope she will portray Janeway, again. That was a great show, and she was perfect for the role. Still the same, something about her has always reminded me so much of Katharine Hepburn! That’s a role I hope to someday see her portray on the silver screen.

>It will be remembered as an intrepid ship

Well it’s not like Voyager would be remembered as a Galaxy ship.


@ves. lol. I dig Janeway. I wish they could somehow bring picard and her into the new movies.

This site gets better every day. Well done.

She sort of reminds me of Patrick stewart…. Classy and well crafted responses.

I have to disagree with her opinion regarding ending the Voyager franchise. She said something about it being hard….. I personally believe the finale can be good and satisfying if the writers surely stay true to what the show was about in the first place. In Voyager’s case… it almost stayed true to its core, but the time traveling and Ablative Armour acted as harmfull gimmicks to the audience. I personally would have enjoyed a more linear storyline…. wtv… Controversial finale as Kate noted.

Gotta love that response she gave after she found she was dead in the Novel world of Voyager, lol !

“Am I dead? Why did they kill her?”

#1–Kate actually played Hepburn in a stage play entitled “Tea at Five.” Mulgrew and Hepburn are two of my heroes!

I don’t know Kate, so I can’t comment on whether she’s smart, classy or whatever. She’s a good actress, sure. But I never cared for Janeway or Voyager, not at all due to her. I just never felt that they could make up their minds about Janeway. It seemed that to make her a “strong” captain, she had to come across as bitchy. Then, there were many times when she got glassy-eyed in moments when the captain would have to be strong.

Honestly, I guess I just never liked Voyager, so that says enough. Still, it was part of the Trek universe, so I’m happy that it happened and I join Kate in being shocked that it’s been 15 years.

Wow…babble over…

Yay! I wish they had done more with voyager

Very cool interview with Kate Mulgrew. She is so very wellspoken and such a fascinating lady.

Great interview, Anthony (as always).

I know that James Cawley once said he gets to live the fans’ dream when he plays Kirk… you get to live our dream when you interview these fine actors and other production crew members of our dream show…

If this is your day job, all I can say is wow!

Another great interview.

6, yeah I liked her response to the book question too.

1, yes, she was great in the role of Kathryn Janeway. Further, I too hope that she’ll be back in the near future but I’m not holding my breath. I fear that we saw the last of the 24th century with Star Trek Nemesis.

Happy Anniversary to Voyager and all involved in the production of another excellent Trek series.

Great interview Anthony! Even though she’s my “least favorite” captain ( “Voyager” was my least favorite show) Janeway was still cool. Kate Mulgrew was the right choice. Genevieve Bujold just didn’t cut it. Nice to know things are going great for her.

I’ve always thought Janeway had a secret crush on Picard. Hopefully IDW does an issue featuring Janeway marrying Picard. Though I guess the difference in rank might not allow for it. :-(

Great work Anthony, Kate Mulgrew is Captain Janeway! Can’t believe its fifteen years now since Voyager first aired, I was too young to catch most of TNG when it first aired, so i discovered star trek through this incarnation, proud to say i was there from start to finish.

By the way, Anthony sure outdid himself with this interview. Hopefully he can do similar interviews with other “Voyager” cast members. I think the Jeri Ryan interview would cause so much traffic the site would shut down!

@ Anthony

Is it Brannon Braga ?

Someone should interview Robert Beltran for the 15th anniversary of VOY. He should have plenty of interesting things to say…

Thanks Anthony, I love Janeway, (Voyager is my favourite) Kate mulgrew always seems so nice in interviews.
Its great that she does not mince her words.
I would love to hear from Jennifer Lien, she was always a favouriite of mine.

great interview Anthony. it’s the first time i heard your voice after all these years of visiting here.. :)

my first star trek exposure was the TNG reruns, but Voyager was the first series i watched from start to finish. so the intrepid crew of Voyager will always be my first love..

I’ve always liked Mulgrew as Janeway, even when this line or that plot development sucked, I think she always played the part right. (Even though I DO like Bujold as an actress in other stuff like Dead Ringers, I have seen the clips of Voyager with her and I agree she doesn’t fit the part like Mulgrew).

I get the sense from the interview that if she’d had her druthers, the show would have taken more risks with her character with respect to Janeway’s femaleness… I have to agree, that would have made the show deeper. I also think it would have been interesting to see Seven of Nine’s more specifically female struggle with her humanity — yeah, more internal female stuff, less cheesy outfit stuff. (I may be a hetero male, but I don’t like to be pandered to with shiny skin-tight fashion atrocities).

I think at some point it would be nice to do a last 24th century movie, maybe somehow tie in all 3 crews. DS9 left a big loose end with Sisco, Nemesis was an unacceptable end to TNG, and even though Voyager was pretty well wrapped up, it would be interesting to see the crew again. Chances that it’ll happen, not much, but it would be nice.

I have a lot of respect for the cast and crew of that show, but the writing was quite uneven.

It wasn’t all bad, but it also definitely wasn’t all good either. It could have been so much more.

For all intends and purposes Voyager could have been what later became the rebootet Battlestar. It’s no coincidence that Ron Moore joined the writing straff of Voyager only to quit a few weeks later. As I recall he said he couldn’t get answers to simple questions like “what is this characters motivation in this epsiode?” and was made fun of when he pointed out that a few episodes ago a character had just been established as being of a completely different opinion as in the episode they were currently working on.

It probably had a lot to do with UPN seeing this show as their flasghip (pun intended, but not mine) and being weirdly overprotective of it, not letting the show evolve beyond what many called “TNG light”.

When the show tried new stuff and stuck with it, like they did in Scorpion I and II it was exremely interesting and involving. But then a few episodes later the things that got us so so involved and interested were either ignored or even actively contradicted.

A prime example of that was the Borg babies the crew found in some episode or other. First they were established and the viewer was prompted to not only care for them in that particular episode, but to also assume that we will see more of them in the future. Then they were never seen again on the show.

When a fan asked Brannon Braga about this he made a comment like “geesh, they just left left the ship. do we need to show everything on screen?”

That comment still irks me to this day. Don’t make me care for something then make fun of me for caring about it.

That said, the show definitely had episodes I still count as Trek classics: Meld, Death Wish and Scorpion I + II, to name just a few.

Oh yeah, and the minor fact that I met my wife because of this show. Thanks for that, if nothing else.

A groovy interview, although the caption describing her as “Trek’s first woman” should probably be amended to include the word “captain …”

Laughed out loud at the Picard hair joke. Now I feel guilty :)

Shook my head at the Doctor being “innovative.” Certainly played by one of the best actors on the show, certainly a character to admire (frankly and personally, one of the only things about Voyager I ever enjoyed in the slightest was the Doctor), but c’mon, we had Arnold Rimmer already; holographic crewmembers were Ye Olden Newse.

Her observation that “it is always about market value” is the kind of dread truth we often see shouted down around here, so it’s refreshing to see it up top before the comments.

they have to do a star trek voyager movie with captain janeway (kate mulgrew)kate is the best captain

“if they see a woman in the captain’s seat, they are drawn to follow that journey”
Makes sense. For a reason I don’t really know. But now, I have a reason why I like Voyager in the first place.

@ #22: I agree with ya.

[Book Spoiler]
“What? I hope she has taken a lover.”
Oh my god. Oh my gawd. Holy Q. (I really have to read “Full Circle” now. I heard there’s some heavy JetC there. Well, I read three lines of JetC…)

“Am I dead?”
Pure pwnage.

Excellent interview.
It would be great if they could find a way of bringing Picard, Sisko, Janeway and Shatners Kirk into some kind of production. Not the next movie though!
And to be pedantic- the first woman Capatin was in TVH. Sorry- but it was!

I would love to see Janeway one more time. Sad to think it’s highly unlikely to ever happen.

I really wish they’d do some straight to DVD movies. I like Abrams Trek, but I’d still rather see the 24th century again.

Its nice to hear from kate mulgrew again. I’m glad life seems to be going well for her at the moment, espcially when she explains what she went through in life during her time on voyager, it must have been quite hard indeed!

Although voyager has its critics, I have a very special place for the series, mainly because it was the series that introduced me to the world of Star Trek.

I might be interested in seeing voyager return in some form, or at least some of the voyager cast return in some form or another…

However I just don’t believe its going to happen now, because it is too late in my opinion and if voyager (or the next generation cast for that matter) were ever going to return it would have been at least four or five years ago. Paramount have now made their decision to go back to the origins of kirk and co in an alternate universe and with an effectively whole different crew at work on the movies. I’m still excited for the future of Star Trek although I am going to have to move with the times in order to accept this new Star Trek era. I

The only way I can see any of the old cast coming back is if J.J. finds some way to bring them back. However, again, J.J. hasn’t even watched the spin-offs so if you’d ask him about any of the new characters (E.G. TNG, DS9, VOY or ENT) he’d probably not have any clue what you were talking about, and in all honestly, wouldn’t be interested.

J.J. almost reminds me of a (very talented…) 16 year old boy who is playing with big toys when I watch the new film, the action and flares can tell you this. Berman on the other hand was much more traditional in his thinking, view of life and it was in his writing. Why do you think he got the younger Braga to give him some advice along the way? It backfired anyway and they almost suffocated Star Trek as a result of ‘lack of ideas’.

I like that Kate remembers her Trek so many years later. Tells me she had a respect for it rather than just forgetting it all after it ended.

Cheers to ya, las!

I also believe that there is simply no market for any of the old ‘spin-off’ series. And when I say this, I also mean, Next Gen! This is why paramount have completely let go of these series. Financially there would likely be no profit in the old star trek tv series from the 90’s.

The same thing happened with X-FILES. That series is virtually dead! Not even the internet showcases any fans forums or anything else devoted to that series – Remember that The X Files had very impressive ratings in its heyday! This is what happens with time, sadly.

Wonderful interview! I never really watched Voyager. (Bad Trekkie!). No particular reason – it was just on at a time in my life when I didn’t have much time to watch TV. I think now I may have to.

Voyager got me interested in Trek, Im too young to remember the others. I wont say Voyager is my favourite, nothing can beat TOS, but is is definitely a fine Star Trek show. And Kate Mulgrew is amazing as Capt Janeway, she is an excellent commander who not only has a human side, but a female side which we hadn´t been able to see before.

@ I’m dead Jim – She definitely has respect for the series. At her website she has many interviews about Voyager there and it’s clear she is extremely fond of Voyager and it’s cast. She still hangs out with them at home get togethers, etc from time to time.

@ TrekkieJan – Shame on you! *laughs* I honestly think you should give Voyager a shot. The first few seasons are good, but I think they get much better as it goes along and you’ll see why it’s touched the hearts of many.

I would love to see another appearence of Janeway somehow. A reunion would be incredible! If JJ were to bring back the other captains somehow that would be a truely CLASSIC Star Trek moment. I doubt he would do it considering he’s not a true fan, but honestly it would be the talk of the Star Trek community! And I believe it’ll move trekkies/trekkers to appreciate his work even more.

Voyager may not be everyone’s favorite Trek, but it is mine. And I’m very thankfully to the actors and production for making it happen.

Oh yea now I really want to read those books now that I know Janeway’s DEAD! How stupid to kill the lead even in a book! Where’s the monkeys with coconuts when you need them? :)

I’ve always liked Kate Mulgrew though I didn’t always liked what the writers and producers did with her character.

And just to sound completely shallow, I hated the bun of steel!

I am so glad that as a fan we had Kate Mulgrew, as Captain Janeway, and not Genevieve Bujold. Fate was with us , after lookig at Bujold’s cuts scenes I think that she was wrong for the part and did not have the strength of character Mulgrew had in the part. i feel Bujold could have been on the show just not as the captain. But I believe everyone ended up happy, judging by her imdb she got a lot of work after that.

It’s hard to believe that Voyager is 15 years old. Good lord, where does the time go? In hindsight, Voyager was far from the best Star Trek series, but it did have some entertaining episodes now and then, and I hold no ill will against it. The cast and crew did as good a job with it as they could, and they should be commended. However, I do think that it was during this period of Trek history that Berman began showing signs that he had been in the driver’s seat too long, and I think some fresh faces in the production department would have made a big difference with Voyager.

I’m going to open a can of worms.
Remember when Ron Moore went to Voyager when DS9 ended? He wrote two episodes and quit. He then went on to write a letter and put it on the internet about how disgusted he was with the way Voyager was being done. That it was lying to the audience on how everything was still neat on the ship inside and out even though they have no way of taking it a starbase. He basically tore em a new one.

Yeah, so, but Mulgrew was always good. The only character I did not care for was Chakotay, but the rest were good.

I adore her and think she is an inspiration. I hope they do decide to make a movie. Sooner rather than later would be great!

Excellent interview.
Mulgrew is smart.

My favorites in descending order:
> Kim
> Seven of 9 (when serious)
> Tuvok
> The Doctor

Excellent interview. Thank you.

@39: well, Moore had a point. that’s what made Galactica feel so real. ALTHOUGH, given that VOY took place in a fictional future settings where they had things like matter re-sequencers and synthesizers, and replicators, and any other trek tech under the sun of course they can ‘clean up’ the ship in between episodes. remember, in each season there were only 20-ish episodes out of their 365 day year…a lot can happen between episodes.

and a character i never quite understood was Seven (eye candy aside). between her and Harry, i felt like they were just ‘there’.

AND, i think Mulgrew would make a great Number One opposite Bruce Greenwood’s Admiral Pike. but that’s just me.

I feel that Mulgrew did a great job, as Janeway and her character was true to form in starfleet tradition. She was fantastic in handling what was an over th top scenario. Lost in an unknown quadrent, would upended many commanders. Remember Capt.Rudy Ransom? Being female has little to do with her ways,or her hairdo. Its what was under that “do” that counted. And her heart,devotion to duty,and her crew where she bore a strong responsibility. Janeway was..is a great rolemodel and inspiration to girls and women alike. And its true more female fans entered the trek universe. More women also entered science aerospace carreers as well in positions of leadership. Thank you Kate for this. My daughters also thank you!

Janeway becomes a Borg Queen, and then a Q?! Lame! I am glad that the books are not cannon. They seem to take place in a universe of their own.

I like Kate’s work. I’ve always maintained Voyager (and Enterprise) got short-changed on the writing. Otherwise, it’s a great ride.

Ok here’s the Voyager movie premise. They (whoever makes the flick) decides that the death of Janeway in the novel is canon. Then they pull Voyager out of mothballs (if that’s where it is) and do a re-fit (just to make if a little different and fresh). Then they put Captain Tom Paris in command and send him on an epic journey to rescue Janeway from the continuum.

So…..any thoughts? I’d go see a Voyager movie. I’m a Trekkie what else would I do.

I loved Kate Mulgrew in the role of Janeway. She brought a great sense of strength and realism to the character, made her totally believable, IMO. She was a fine addition to the characters of Star Trek.

I’m afraid I agree with other posters that TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT are all finished. Paramount has moved on and JJ Abrams has repeatedly said that the series disconnected for him after the original series (though I believe he did say he saw some TNG). I don’t think you can get any more clear than that.

That being said, the PocketBook authors have done a good job of continuing the stories of these series. I am happy Star Trek has found new life, but am also glad I can follow the continuing stories of the other shows. It’s almost like having my cake and eating it too. I know books are not Canon, but I figure I can accept them as official since there is virtually no chance of them being contradicted on screen since they will not be seen on screen again. Speaking of which, I am anxiously waiting to hear when the next Romulan War book comes out. I hope with the loss of editors does not affect the relaunches. Books based on the new movie and the original series are great and I love them, but the relaunches are great too.