Mulgrew On Creating A CaptainBy Lisa
August 30, 2001 - 10:54 AM
As the woman at the helm of Voyager through its seven year journey home Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway) had a very intimate relationship with Captain Janeway. In a new interview, she spoke about what she brought to the character, and the series as a whole.
"I thought she was terrific. But you must never forget that I crafted her," she told SFX Magazine (via Totally Kate). "In the beginning it was just basically an outline. I had to flesh her out. And once I established command which I think was the single most difficult task - after that the love affair sort of evolved."
What was the main thing she brought to the character? "Humanity. Her flaws," she said. "She's a flawed human being. The compelling thing about Janeway is that she could be every woman except at her core she's a lot braver than most. But she is in constant search of her humanity."
As well as having influence over her character, the actress also talked about other things she brought to the show. "I was very much a part of 'Endgame'," she explained. "This last season I was quite involved. I would have to say that I was quite involved throughout. I felt very strongly about my respective relationships with the senior staff on the ship. And I fought very hard for each one of those relationships. That's really what I spent seven years doing. Where am I going with B'Elanna? Where am I going with Mr Paris? What's up with Tuvok? This great friendship - but we haven't seen it! I would say to them, 'Let's see it.'"
"And certain things I was adamant about. Her intimate life. I said, let us not grandstand with this one. It's not who Janeway is. They put her in an extremely perilous situation. She's acutely aware of it. Her mission is to get this crew home. She cannot be gratifying her needs at every turn. In fact, we see a sublimation of those needs. And I would like to see her loneliness as a result. So they were quite good about that, although it was very controversial at the beginning because Janeway and Chakotay had such great chemistry."
If Janeway hadn't been in command of the ship, who would she have been involved with romantically then? "Oh, Chakotay... It wasn't the top priority," the actress said. "Although it was a very important subtext for Janeway and myself to play. All the time. I was very interested that everybody else has a very full and rich life. And I was prepared to sacrifice that.[...] And if there is an episode that is missing it could be that one, an episode in which it would have become clear to Janeway that she would never have children, that she would miss this extraordinary opportunity in her life. And that she had done so for all the right reasons but none the less she would find it emotionally, deeply disturbing. And that one we didn't get to because the writers believed quite strongly in the heroine of the Captain. The Captain could not be weak."
Mulgrew had her own nicknames for many of the cast. "I call Robert Picardo (the EMH) Roberto. I call Ethan Phillips (Neelix) the love of my life. I call Tim [Russ] (Tuvok) everything but Tim because he is always getting me into trouble. He's a very, very, very naughty person. Robert Beltran (Chakotay) - I was always very... was always Robert. Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) was always Jeri. Garrett [Wang] was always Garrett. I think the ones I was closest to were Robbie, Robert Picardo and Roxann."
The biggest obstacle in the way of a Starfleet Captain is the Prime Directive, the Federation's cardinal protocol. Were there times when Mulgrew wanted to throw it away and make the populist choice instead? "No question about it. And there are times as Janeway I believe they were making valid points," she answered. "You know, she is very headstrong, very willful. And she does not allow insubordinate behaviour. So even if I don't quite believe in my own theories I will probably push it forwards. In the end it's Janeway who [...] buggers the Prime Directive more than anyone else. She turned into a pretty passionate explorer. And she did some very, you know, interesting and unprecedented things as a Captain."
Much more from Kate Mulgrew, including her plans after Voyager and her thoughts about Endgame are available in a full transcript of the original SFX article here at Totally Kate!