For Jeri Ryan, once she accepted that Seven of Nine would be on Star Trek: Picard, returning to that character was scary.
At first, according to TrekMovie, talk of returning to Star Trek was just a casual conversation with a few people. “We were at the Hollywood Bowl and Johnny [Del Arco] was with me and one of the creators of the show – James Duff – who is a dear friend of ours, after about four glasses of champagne, he was like: ‘this might be a good time to bring this up, here is what I am thinking…’ And he pitched an idea,” said Ryan. “The story is not the same story as he was originally thinking, but the way he had conceived of this character, is basically what he had described to me, and it sounded really cool. I thought yeah, that sounds fun but, whatever.”
But Ryan thought Duff’s pitch was just talk until Alex Kurtzman spoke up about it. “This was like a year and a half ago, well over a year,” she said. “So, I didn’t think anything of it, but every time I saw [Duff] again, he would mention again. Then cut to the Creative Arts Emmys [September 8, 2018] and Alex Kurtzman was there, and he mentioned it as well. And I thought: ‘oh, this might happen,’ and it did.”
There was one thing about Duff’s pitch that Ryan loved. “That [not wearing the catsuit] was part of his pitch,” said Ryan. “There was no catsuit! Yeah!”
So what was it like to return to Star Trek after so long away from the franchise? “Honestly, it was freaking terrifying,” said Ryan, “and these two [Jonathan Frakes and Del Arco] can attest to that! They both saved my ass! I was freaking out. She was a very specific character for four years on Voyager. There was a lot of growth, and all of that. She went from being a machine to learning to be human. But, particularly the way she moved and her voice, that was what I was really hung up on. Her voice didn’t change that much in four years. So, she had a stilted, very formal, very stylized way of speaking, at the end of Voyager. So, when I got the initial script, and from I knew from the original pitch with James [Duff] a year and a half ago, she is not the same Seven. She is much more human. She been on Earth for a long time, she has been through a lot. So, when I saw that initial script and as you saw ‘what the hell are you doing out here?’ It’s a very, very different voice. And that is what was freaking me out.”
But Del Arco told her “‘once you get into costume, it helps.’ And it does. It informs the way the character moves and the way the character stands and that kind of thing.
“But, I was having a real hard time with her voice. I just couldn’t hear her in these lines,” said Ryan. “I couldn’t find it and it was really freaking me out to the point where my husband was like: ‘I have[n’t] seen you get freaked out by a script, ever.’ And so thank God this one [Jonathan Frakes] was directing my first two episodes. And Johnny [Del Arco] worked before I did, so he had just gone through all of this himself.
“I was literally freaking out. I was bursting into tears: ‘I don’t know what her voice is! I can’t find her.’ So, Johnny came over and we had lunch and read the script for like an hour and finally he just – I was so freaked out I couldn’t think clearly about it – he said after an hour: ‘just try this, what if…The Borg have always been hated, they are universally hated because they were bad guys, they were tough. But, there’s other elements in this world with the Borg. And, what if she had to make the choice to be as human as possible, to survive, to sound as human and act as human as possible. Clearly, she is always going to look like a former Borg, because she has these implants that can’t go away. So, what if she had to make that choice – a conscious choice – to sound as human as possible.’ And that’s all I needed. That’s what I needed! I just needed something for it to make sense as an actor as to why she would have that huge of a chance. Then it made sense to me.”