One of the more entertaining events at the 56-Year Mission Star Trek convention in Las Vegas was a solo panel with Kate Mulgrew. The actress talked about the highs and lows of her seven years leading Star Trek: Voyager, her return to the franchise for the animated series Prodigy, and the possibility of taking on the role of Janeway again for a new live-action series.
Star Trek: Janeway?
The moment that may have had the capacity crowd buzzing the most was when a fan asked, following on from Star Trek: Picard, were there any serious talks about her returning to live action, possibly even a “Star Trek: Janeway“? The actress beamed at the suggestion and offered some hope that it could happen, telling the Vegas crowd:
I would say simply, that’s up to you. There are talks. There are conversations. Have I been offered anything directly? No. I think they are looking at Picard and looking at the reaction to Picard… I don’t know, but I think Janeway was one of a kind. Right? But I do think it is up to you as much as it is up to me.
In past years, Mulgrew had been skeptical about returning to the role for live-action but that attitude seems to have shifted in the last couple of years with other recent hints of this possibility. One clue regarding her attitude change came earlier in the panel when she talked about a new energy she feels with the franchise and how it is a counterpoint to some of the negative elements of the modern world, including how the COVID pandemic has “put a veil” over many elements of society:
There is a real sense of revitalization. And Star Trek never dies. And Star Trek is undaunted by this kind of stuff. So we have to persevere. And we have to do it with real gusto. I just sat in the green room with Anson Mount. My youngest sister would call him “dreamy.” A lovely, lovely guy. And we talked about what it means, because he is before the original. And he was explained to me how he feels about being in that position. And then I told him a little bit of what it was like to be Janeway, and how it’s crossed every timeline and every sector, every quadrant, and every goal. And it’s just the most extraordinary thing, Star Trek. And I’m increasingly delighted to be a part of it.
Praise for Prodigy producers and Kurtzman’s “new way”
Another fan noted how Patrick Stewart was given creative control on Picard and asked how much influence Mulgrew has with Prodigy. The actress was effusive about the collaboration she has had with the producers:
I was offered [creative control] before I even went into negotiations. That is exactly what Alex Kurtzman said. “This will be deeply collaborative from the first moment, you could teach us.” And that’s exactly the way it’s been. But let me say right here, Kevin and Dan Hageman are geniuses, the creators and the writers of Star Trek: Prodigy. So, it’s nothing but a joy. Every time I am in the booth—which feels like once every two or three weeks—that is what it feels like. It’s so liberating creatively. It’s so much fun. I often walk out and I just feel great. It’s very, very different. And it’s so wonderful to be with them. So yes, it’s collaborative. I think it’s a different thing. Live action is much more exacting, because it’s very, very expensive. And a lot hangs on it, so I think that’s why Sir Patrick requested that. And I’m not sure it was entirely fulfilled.
Mulgrew then pivoted from Prodigy to the larger new Star Trek Universe being put together by Alex Kurtzman:
These guys are incredible, Kevin and Dan Hageman. As is Alex Kurtzman. I know it’s the new way. I know. I am not completely stupid. I do get that. But the new way can be a splendid new way. And I think that this is tsunamic in its drive and in its depth and its promise. Kurtzman will deliver. If he keeps hiring guys like Kevin and Dan Hageman, trust me, for the next 50 years it’s going to be brilliant.
Letting Janeway command like a woman
In response to a fan asking about which Voyager episodes she liked the most for their emotional resonance with her character, Mulgrew talked about how showing Janeway’s femininity was something she pushed for with executive producer and co-creator Rick Berman:
“Night” was so good. A deep dive into the loneliness of being a female captain of childbearing years, whose fiancé had just said goodbye to her and is taking the dog. I’ve got a complement of 165 and I missed the gas station. What could be worse? So she’s profoundly alone. I loved that. And I loved the thing with Mark Harelik, “Counterpoint,” where I got to show the possibility, however subtle and very nuanced, that Janeway could fall in love. That Janeway missed that. Janeway really missed all those things. I used to beg Rick Berman, over many martinis, “Please show her femininity in the right ways.” Her loneliness, her vulnerability, her longing. Give me something every now and then to refresh the memory of the audience. This is a woman all alone at the helm of this starship.
With many Star Trek characters having a musical side, Mulgrew was asked if it ever came up that Janeway might play an instrument, and she revealed that this was suggested by the producers of the show, but she wasn’t interested. But the question lead to her talking more about the struggles she faced being a female captain leading a Star Trek series:
But it’s okay she didn’t [play an instrument], right? Janeway was a little busy. It’s bad enough that I changed my hairdo every two weeks for two seasons. What’s wrong with this captain? She goes into her ready room with a little bun, she comes out without. I finally said, “Knock it off, leave me alone. You didn’t do this with Picard.”… I know I am a woman. The audience recognizes that I am a woman. And if you are worried about the young male demographic, let them come to my command. They are certainly not going to come because I change my hairdo every three weeks. That’s absurd. And the minute they stopped with that… then it was over, and you guys did come. Because every good man wants to be commanded by a woman.
Patrick Stewart’s early advice helped get through the last days of Voyager
The actress talked at length about shooting the series finale “Endgame” and how it was difficult for her personally to say goodbye to the show and her co-stars:
It was intensely emotional. That was seven years of my life. Of a life that definitively changed, and has been ever since. I was tired. I was pleased to be able to redirect my attention back to my children, who for seven years had to just take me as they got me. But in the final moment, it was absolutely overwhelming. Patrick Stewart warned me about that final moment, and I didn’t believe it because that was in the first season… He met me at craft service in the second or third week. I was very nervous and desperate to do it very, very well. And already tired. But filled with adrenaline and he had a cup of coffee—he didn’t have Earl Gray, how do you like them apples?—and I said, “How the hell did you do this?” And he said [mimics Stewart’s voice] “Listen to me carefully. Just keep your nose to the grindstone and do the best you possibly can and I can promise you that after seven years you will be very proud of yourself.” And he was right.
It was intensely hard, intensely gratifying work. And not many people get a shot at that in their life, but little did I know it was going to carry me to my death. It will, into a very nice sunset. But that was how I felt at that moment. It started with a scene with Tuvok, who has Alzheimer’s and Janeway goes in to say goodbye. You know, I love Tim Russ. I loved them all. I really did love them all. You don’t spend that much time with people over the course of seven years and not love them. And I had to do a scene with Tim. And it was excruciating. Not only was my own mother dying of Alzheimer’s disease, but here I was saying goodbye to my great friend, knowing God knows when I would see him again. And from there, one by one, they disappeared. Until finally it was just me alone on the bridge for a week of pickups all by myself. And I remember sitting in the captain’s chair for the last close ups. “Cut, print, thank you Kate.” And a technician came and started to drill the chair. I said, “I do beg your illustrious pardon.” [In captain voice:] “You are dismissed.”
More from the 56-Year Mission
We will be going through the rest of our material from STLV and have more to share from some of the other panels at the 56-Year Mission in Las Vegas. Check out the rest of our STLV coverage here.
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