Starlog Interviews Kate Mulgrew

By Christian
November 4, 2000 - 12:59 AM

The December issue of Starlog Magazine features an interview by Ian Spelling with Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway), in which the Voyager star talks about how the past six years have allowed her to perfect her grasp on the Janeway character, about the lack of any real Janeway episodes in the first part of this season, and about some of the other actors on the show.

Most interesting is indeed Mulgrew's response to a question about Robert Beltran (Chakotay) and his much-publicised criticisms on the show. "In the course of a seven-year run," says Mulgrew in the interview, "it is extremely difficult to keep things wildly interesting all the time. It therefore becomes the possibility of the actors, personally, to raise the stakes, to raise the bar. If certain actors choose not to do that, then I would say that is their problem. You can take any line, any beat, and make it golden. That is a choice. It's easy to fall into a kind of lethargy. I, myself, have never done that. I'm not a proponent of it. With the way we're paid, I don't understand giving into malaise."

Mulgrew also commented to Starlog about Jeri Ryan's character on the show, Seven of Nine, and the Janeway-Seven relationship which is becoming a bit less important. "I think they are doing that less and less with me. They are trying to find ways to express Seven's humanity. She's a kind of one-note character, Seven of Nine, and within that one note, anyone would be hard-pressed to find a symphony. The whole thing with Seven of Nine has always been very clearly been a marketing thing and, evidently, it has been successful."

The relationship with Seven of Nine isn't the only part of Janeway we'll be seeing less of this season, as in the interview Mulgrew also mentions there aren't really any 'Janeway shows' coming up in the near future. "I am seldom strongly featured now. [...] It is something that has happened over the past two or three seasons, actually. There are exceptions, of course, but there are not many Janeway episodes you can point to. I have become, now, clearly the captain who is running the ship. Because the character is obviously the anchor of the show, not every episode needs to be about her, and I rather like that, to tell you the truth. I can't remember too much of what I did last year without prompting."

Upon prompting, Mulgrew says she did not care very much for the two episodes set in the Fair Haven village, but she did like both 'Equinox' and 'Repression'. She apparently wasn't very happy with 'Fury', the episode featuring the return of Jennifer Lien (Kes), or at least it's difficult for her to talk about the episode. According to Mulgrew, Lien "seemed uncomfortable" while filming the episode, and in the interview Mulgrew says she doesn't know why she decided to come back, or why the producers wanted it.

In general, though, Mulgrew rates the sixth season pretty high. "[Creatively], I was quite pleased with season six. I felt a sense of relaxation, creatively, that I hadn't felt before. My ownership of Janeway is now complete. I have a real freedom from the constrictions that I may have felt before, which were rather difficult, in terms of trying to define her through the writers, trying to understand the legacy of being a Star Trek captain. All of that has now passed and I can just portray Kathryn Janeway."

She continues, "The best part of it is that I can think of Voyager as a workshop for myself. I can take chances and feel free to do so because I am an actress who is about to be sprung loose once again onto the bread lines of the world. So I am taking risks, however subtle, and using each day as a way to approach a new beginning. For many years on Voyager, I was a strict adherent to the style of writin, down to the pauses, the beats. I have thrown that away. I am trying to make Janeway as expedient and as truthful and as still as possible. It is my way of having a final confrontation with the character."

Mulgrew ends by saying she now stops when she notices she is playing Janeway in an old way, and has in fact minimised the action, making Janeway a lot more like Mulgrew herself. "Does that make Kate Mulgrew Kathryn Janeway or Kathryn Janeway Kate Mulgrew? Finally, it's a perfect marriage of the two."

In the rest of the Starlog interview, Mulgrew also talks about what she would do if she were to meet Genevieve Bujold, who held the Janeway role until she decided the job wasn't the right thing for her during the filming of 'Caretaker', and she also looks back at 'Unimatrix Zero'. And finally, she also again expresses her wish for Janeway to die in the final episode, in a valiant effort to get her crew back home. However, she also says she does not immediately rule out playing in Star Trek movies or returning to Janeway ever again. "Science fiction allows for everything. [...] I would like to keep all of those doors wide open, but I think I would like to finish this part of the Voyager journey with something that says, very cleary, 'I understood from the beginning that it was my mission, having gotten us into this fix in the first place, to correct it at whatever the cost'."

To read the actual interview, which is accompanied by several high-quality photos, look out for the December issue of Starlog Magazine. The mag (issue #281) also features a large feature on the making of 'Red Planet', as well as articles on '6th Day', 'Xena', 'Dark Angel' and many other shows.

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