Mulgrew: Green-Screen As Difficult As One-Woman ShowBy Michelle
June 13, 2005 - 9:21 PM
Kate Mulgrew said that despite some terror at going onstage to play Katharine Hepburn in her one-woman show Tea At Five, the technical challenges of playing that role are not as restrictive as those she experienced doing special effects shots for Star Trek: Voyager.
"I reinvented the blue-screen! Not to mention the green-screen!" laughed Mulgrew in an interview on San Francisco's Pete Wilson Show last week (transcript posted at Totally Kate). "There's nothing quite like the technical acting required in a series like Star Trek – in science fiction....it's sometimes just excruciating. The confines are so unbearably restrictive. I mean you're told that you're fighting Species 8472, but you've got only six inches on the right, three inches on the left, and nothing overhead...it's just highly exacting technically. Which I found very challenging."
Wilson noted that acting before a screen, where an actor has to pretend to be performing with elements not visible at the time because they will be added via special effects later, had confounded a number of great actors such as Liam Neeson in the Star Wars films. "The great virtuoso acting in episodic television is really technical. And how they manage to marry that with some semblance of humanity is extraordinary," noted Mulgrew, comparing it with acting on a stage. "We're trained in the theatre to work with our partners. Acting is reacting - you know, that's the famous cliche." Playing Hepburn, alone on a stage, "the partner is my audience. So there's an entirely new dynamic introduced, and it's very interesting."
Though she admitted that doing a one-woman show was lonely, Mulgrew said that the experience of finding Hepburn within herself was "deeply personal, and sort of a secret between the actor and the character...it's very, very difficult to articulate. Was she going to let me in? Was I going to be able to grasp the nuance of this woman? And slowly, in the rehearsal process, that unfolded."
Admitting that she felt terror after accepting the role in Matthew Lombardo's play, Mulgrew said that she was concerned not to be appearing to impersonate Hepburn despite the physical similarities that led to her casting. "It needed to transcend that, so that's been the work." But Mulgrew resisted the notion that Hepburn is truly familiar to audiences despite the books she wrote about her life. "I don't think we know who she was...she wrote what she wanted to write about herself. And what she wrote about herself was, I think, very amusing. Often self-deprecating. How revealing was it? I don't know." She added that she demanded three sources of verification for everything attributed to Hepburn in the drama.
Asked whether there would be a Voyager movie, Mulgrew said that neither herself nor her agent had been approached about such a thing. As previously reported, the actress will play Cleopatra onstage in New York after touring in California with Tea At Five.
The original interview, which aired on KGO-AM 810 NewsTalk in San Francisco, may be read in its entirety at Totally Kate!