In the first part of a two-part interview, Kate Mulgrew reminisced about her time on Star Trek: Voyager, giving her opinion on what worked, the importance of a female captain and Janeway herself.
Mulgrew credits Brannon Braga‘s writing for what worked best on Voyager, the relationships on the show. “Instantly, Brannon Braga comes to mind, because much of it was his writing. I think the cast was extraordinary. We were a very disciplined group. I was prepared.”
Although she felt the entire cast was strong, her work with Robert Picardo stood out the most for Mulgrew. “My stuff with Bob Picardo, I think, probably could not have been much better, given the time constraints,” said Mulgrew. “We were extremely capable as a group and could really explore the human aspects of what was happening to these characters. We could do it one on one and in the bigger picture, as a group.”
Being the first Star Trek female captain in a series was important and the success of Janeway was not just due to female fans, but to men accepting a female captain. “I’ve always felt that Paramount was so very brave to do that because there was a lot of money on the line, and we could have really tanked,” said Mulgrew. “If men had chosen to turn me off altogether we could have tanked very quickly, and then they would have had to scramble and get a man to do the whole thing. But enough men said, “Let’s give her a shot.” And that told me it was time, the right time, because that’s how you assess everything in a culture, if men can come along for the difficult part of the ride. And they did. They gave me a tough time for a season and a half, and then they said, ‘She can do it.’ But, definitely, it was time in the history of television and in the history of the world. That’s one of the great achievements of my life, that I got to play Janeway.”
Over the seven year run of the show, Mulgrew feels that her Janeway matured. “She grew up,” said Mulgrew. “I’d say she grew up considerably. She deepened. She hardened. She got tough in space. The losses she endured both galvanized and hurt her. So that conflict was always in Janeway. Her relationships deepened. She found love in space, and I don’t think she’d ever truly found that before. She loved Tuvok (Tim Russ) and Chakotay (Robert Beltran) and all of her crew very, very deeply. There was loneliness, too. The sharp edges of loneliness, I think, were very much in play for Janeway. And that made the ultimate sacrifice that much more delicious. The admiral sacrificed her life so that the captain could persevere. That’s who I really was as Janeway, and I tried, always, to show that conflict.”