While Jeri Ryan has good memories of her days on Star Trek: Voyager, not everything about with her time there was positive.
Initially, Ryan was hesitant to take on the role of Seven of Nine due to fear of being typecast. “That was a huge concern for me when I signed on initially,” she said. “My agent came to me three times with this role, and I kept passing. I kept saying, ‘Absolutely not!’ I wasn’t a Star Trek fan. I never watched it. All I knew was that the actors are pigeonholed and that’s all they do. It was so early in my career I didn’t want to kill it.”
Her audition convinced her that taking on the role would be worth the risk of being typecast. “What really got me to do it was one particular audition scene,” said Ryan. “Well, there were two. One which I absolutely hate, which was the infamous ‘Harry Kim, take off all your clothes’ scene, which, of course, they shot and used. The other one, which they didn’t shoot, was so beautiful. It was Seven and she was with Chakotay, and she has her first experience of laughter. In that scene, I really saw the possibilities of the character. That’s what got me to do it.”
Once she took the job, Ryan had to learn how to deal with “the suit.” “Apparently they don’t wear bras and underwear in space,” said Ryan. “It was a very elaborate undergarment. I have to say that Robert Blackman, the costume designer, is an absolute genius. That costume was a real feat in engineering, because the producers had said that they wanted it to look like skin, to be skin-regenerative fabric. For the breast mound, they wanted two individual breasts and they wanted it to hug every curve, like skin.”
Her suit became an issue when it was time to answer the call of nature. “It was an event,” she said. “If I had to go to the bathroom it was a twenty-minute production shutdown. It’s true, no joke. The whole crew had to know about it, too. “10-1, everybody take five, take ten, take whatever. Jeri has to use the bathroom.” People had to get me dressed and undressed, so I had a full-time dresser. I couldn’t do it myself.”
In addition to dealing with her costume, Ryan had to deal with animosity from Kate Mulgrew. “It was not a super-easy four years for me, I will say that,” said Ryan. “It does not stick out as a wonderful, wonderful work experience. It was tough. It was difficult.”
Not only did Ryan have problems on the set, but she encountered the bad side of Star Trek fandom. “I used to not be able to attend conventions because I had stalkers,” she said. “Finally, the conventions agreed to get security for me, and they’re really on top of it. It’s nice that I can see the fans and interact with them again. They’re such a nice, supportive audience, and they’re very enthusiastic.”
Ryan’s most recent show, Body of Proof, has just finished its second season.