To uproarious applause, the entire cast of Voyager took the stage of the Las Vegas Rio on Saturday to talk to fans, tell jokes, and reminisce on the show’s 20th anniversary.
Robert Beltran, Garrett Wang, Ethan Phillips, Jeri Ryan, Kate Mulgrew, Roxann Dawson, Robert Picardo, Tim Russ, and Robert Duncan McNeill lined up for quick introduction and a lot of questions. Of all the different shows’ casts, Voyager’s is famous as the most collegial – and they did not disappoint a full crowd of fans.
“It’s like nothing’s changed,” McNeill said. “Except Bob’s hairline.”
Picardo quipped, “What was there to change?”
Dawson noted that everything was the same, “except now we’re all bringing out adult children along with.”
When Mulgrew rose to address the crowd, she had to wait because of the applause.
To her crew she said, “You guys were there for me from the beginning. I was not the first choice. I came in shot out of a cannon. Something happens when you’re in the trenches together for seven years. It transcends friendship. It was a great privilege to work with you.”
“Technically I’m cheating because it’s only my 17th anniversary,” Ryan said. “It is amazing how it feels like no time has passed. It’s barely controlled chaos at any given moment when you get us together.”
Indeed one of the agents of that chaos was Phillips. A running gag throughout the panel was Phillips’ tongue in cheek claims of delusional grandeur, including starring in F Troop, studying philosophy at Yale, writing for every Star Trek series (except TNG), and being lovers with Avery Brooks for several years.
“I’d prefer not to talk about that,” he deadpanned.
“When we started this show, Captain Crunch was just a private,” Phillips joked, but sincerely added, “It is a joy to be with you. I love all these guys and I have since I met them.”
Wang said that of all the conventions he’s done, this is the first one that gave him butterflies in his stomach.
“I guess I could sum it up in two words,” he pulled up a George Takei mask and said, “Oh myyyy.”
But are they fans of the other shows…
One fan asked if they were fans of the other shows within the franchise.
“No,” Mulgrew said, to which Dawson quickly added, “I became a fan really fast.”
“Oh yes, me too,” Mulgrew amended.
Dawson shared that she grew up with William Shatner’s daughter, Leslie, and always wanted to play outside with her, but Leslie always just wanted to watch reruns of her father on Star Trek – so that had left a bad taste in her mouth from the franchise.
Wang noted that although he had always been a big science fiction fan, he wasn’t a fan of the modern incarnations of Trek. The first one he caught was Code of Honor, generally regarded as the worst episode ever. (Indeed, Michael Dorn had ragged on the episode earlier in the day.)
“Every line, every scene was garbage,” he said. So he stopped watching. He tried it again nine months later and it was a rerun of Code of Honor. Then two years later, he tried again and it was … Code of Honor.
“I realized God was telling me ‘Don’t become a fan of TNG!’ Because I would have been too nervous to audition for Voyager. So really, God helped me get on Voyager.”
They also all said they don’t rewatch Voyager, except perhaps with their children. Ryan says her son is a big fan and Russ has only watched translations in German and Spanish. Dawson noted that her kids tried to watch it too, but couldn’t get over the forehead.
Mulgrew doesn’t rewatch Voyager. “It’s not rewarding to look back. It’s important to live in the moment.”
The crew were asked to cite their favorite memories from the series. Ryan said it was the inauguration of her character’s new astrometric labs. She recounted that some of the actors performed the Lord of the Dance on it, which spurred an impromptu dance recital.
Wang said he and McNeil would play a game of throwing their comm badges at each other to see if they could get the Velcro to stick. Mulgrew got involved and landed a comm badge on her first attempt, then announced, “I’m the captain” and walked off.
Mulgrew asked McNeil which of the episodes he’d directed was his favorite. McNeil said, “I think the episode Kate’s probably thinking about is the first episode I ever directed: Sacred Ground. Kate was phenomenal in that episode. It was a big story for Janeway and there was some real nuance. Then Bob Picardo in Someone to Watch Over Me.”
Phillips shared his one secret as an actor for the first time in 20 years. “My secret was that Neelix had a crush on Captain Janeway.”
The audience gave out a huge “aww” as the two embraced, but Dawson and Ryan each quipped “I thought it was me!”
Picardo discussed the episode Real Life, where he simulates a holographic family for himself. The episode started off as Father Knows Best, then it became Married With Children, and it finished as ER, the actor observed.
“The Doctor was a bit of a windbag. He thinks he would be a terrific husband and father and I believe it was B’Elanna Torres changed it to teach him a lesson,” Picardo said. “The lesson is very clear that life brings us surprises,” he said wistfully. “The older I get the more I realize that nobody knows anything.”
Phillips told about getting his friend Brad Dourif on the show to play the Betazoid killer Suder, but amongst all his tall tales people doubted it. Picardo said, “Ethan, you told a heart-felt story, but no one is going to believe you!”
One day on set Wang and Ryan were moving to reshoot a scene and Wang grabbed her elbow to gentlemanly lead her back to position between takes. What he grabbed was, however, not her elbow.
Later in the day, Ryan appeared on set with post-it notes on her costume: one to indicate her elbow and the other labelling her chest as “not an elbow.”
Fans ask the tough questions…
One fan asked what it would have been like for Janeway to have children.
“I did have children on that ship,” she joked and looked at her assembled shipmates. She then reminded the crowd about how she and Tom Paris had children as giant lizards in the much ballyhooed episode Threshold.
“Let me tell you,” McNeil interjected. “If you take some mind-altering substance and watch that episode, you’ll enjoy it.”
Another fan asked if Beltran as a person was more like Chakotay or a gigolo he’d played on the stage a few years ago. Mulgrew interrupted, “I think Seven of Nine married the Commander, but Captain Janeway had the gigolo.”
One fan asked, “It’s been 20 years, can Harry Kim finally get a promotion?”
Mulgrew deadpanned, “Hope springs eternal.”
Manu Intiraymi, the actor who played Icheb, surprised everyone by asking the panel to share their wisdom from years of experience as actors.
Picardo’s wisdom was, “I know that I’ll never be able to spell your last name.”
Another fan posited a theory that the Borg were grooming Janeway to become the next Borg queen and that he wanted to see the story of Future Janeway becoming assimilated and if Seven would join her.
“I think you were very prescient, but that story has already been written,” Janeway joked. “By the great Ethan Phillips!”