Kate Mulgrew: The Camera Doesn't Lie

By Christian
April 23, 2001 - 10:12 PM

Voyager's leading lady Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway) remains conscious of the fact that there are some things an actor cannot fake. The Star Trek audience is known for its attention to detail, and the Janeway actress was well aware that the camera doesn't lie.

"I wasnít sure in the beginning how I would do it. But I think what you and the fans are seeing and acknowledging is the fact that I have loved almost every minute of it. The camera doesnít lie about that," Mulgrew told Gregory L. Norris & Laura A. Van Vleet for the Battlestar Galactica Fan club.

As the Voyager finale drew closer, Mulgrew was keenly aware that her own feelings mirror those of the character. "This is exceedingly poignant and heartbreaking for Janeway, whose last seven years have absolutely hinged on these eight people and this beloved ship of hers." she said, displaying just acutely she is in touch with her character. "She has transcended her own loneliness, her own needs, and many of her own struggles in order to understand and finally really love these senior crew. There is a sense of intimacy in these relationships that most circumstances simply will not allow. Theyíve been in the trenches together and life as a civilian knows it will strike Janeway right through her heart. Sheís accustomed to the big fight with these noble hearts, and I think that saying goodbye will be profoundly disturbing and difficult for her."

If it was difficult for Janeway, the actress who played her can sympathise. "A part of me is very ready, as a human being and as an actress to bring closure to this chapter. But the wisest part of me understands that it is not that easy. The complications and the joy, the triumphs and the barriers, all the secrets that weíve shared, have indeed transcended anything written on the page. We know each other as actors and as characters. Itís been a different life for us and itís not going to be easy to adjust to life without that."

Mulgrew clearly doesn't believe in faking it for the camera. Viewers are often surprised to learn that she liked to perform her own stunts. One particularly memorable scene occurred in 'Unimatrix Zero Part 1' where Captain Janeway wields a Klingon Batíleth against a Borg Drone. Yes, that was indeed Mulgrew swinging the fearsome Klingon blade. "I have a pretty flexible and strong body, so I am not afraid of those stunts at all. An audience always knows when the actors are doing them and when the stunt double is doing them, so it always looks better to have the actual actor doing the part. It really physical, and itís fun."

Playing Janeway for the past seven years wasn't all fun. Mulgrew had her fair share of problems with Janeway, struggles over her hairstyle, her voice, and even her walk. But what aspect of the character was the most difficult for the actress to come to terms with? "The most difficult I think for me has been to understand that the captain must exercise a certain discipline that the others donít have to, which is confining as an actress, and at the same time immensely challenging. Janeway doesnít have the luxury of emotions that the others have. So thatís been the real challenge Ė how do I convey that without crossing the line? How do I convey command and at the same time my humanity, and how do I make myself accessible with unspoken authority? Thatís been the ongoing challenge, as I think it would really be to a captain."

Now that filming on Voyager has been completed, Mulgrew plans to focus on her husband, Ohio politician Tim Hagan. "Heís made such a huge sacrifice in the last couple of years, to accommodate our marriage and this crazy schedule of mine that when this is finished it will be my turn to shine the light on him. And I intend to do so."

However, the actress has not not been able to put Voyager and Janeway behind her easily. "In many ways, Voyager has made my life fuller, certainly richer by virtue of these people whom I have grown so fond of, and also because of everything that Iíve been put through. I never could have dreamed this, of sharing an experience as an actress with a character that I donít think happens to many others. And I will very, very much miss her, Janeway. I am not an actress who says goodbye easily to a character. I think Janeway will linger in my heart for a very long time."

More of this interview with Kate Mulgrew can be read here at the Battlestar Galactica Fan Club; where she talked about her friendship with Robert Picardo, and her involvement with the charitable Incarnation Childrenís Centre.

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