- Trek Galaxy's Voyager Tribute -

By Gregory L. Norris & Laura A. Van Vleet exclusively for TrekGalaxy.

Day 02 - The Captain Talks - Kate Mulgrew Interview

Our second day in Hollywood begins on a high note: Star Trek: Voyager Captain Kate Mulgrew is on the phone, sharing her thoughts about the last leg of the Intrepid Starship's journey.

"Good morning," Laura says.

"Good morning to you!" Mulgrew replies. "How are you?"

"We're great - how are you today?" Gravity fills Mulgrew's voice. "I'm all right, but I may be a little bit under the weather, to tell you the truth."

"Hope it doesn't have to do with the weather!" Laura adds, commenting on the endless gray and rain that's filled the Los Angeles skies for days.

"No, I think it's just that there's so much going on, as you can imagine. The season's coming to an end and we're trying to complete a million tasks. But I'm fine."

"Well, it's good to talk with you again. We have some gifts for you. The latest issue of 'Cinescape' magazine came out with our Kate Mulgrew feature - and I have to say it looks fantastic. We have copies for you - the photos they chose of you are beautiful!"

This is original artwork (based on the fourth season Da Vinci Holodeck program) created by Pam Marin-Kingsley as a gift to Kate Mulgrew. Click [here] or on the image to see a larger version.
"I can't wait to get my hot little hands on it!"

"Also, a good friend of ours who is an artist made something special for you. When we're on the set, we'll bring it with us."

"Oh, good, it will be lovely to see you both!" she says. "How long are you here until?"

"Saturday," Greg answers, bringing up some of the events of the week - the set visit, breakfast with seaQuest DSV's John D'Aquino, drinks with Battlestar Galactica's Richard Hatch on Thursday night, a visit to the Sci-Fi lab on Friday, purveyors of the Sci-Fi Channel's Sciography series.

"It sounds like you have a full plate!"

"Let's kick off, then," Greg says, leading the interview. "Our first question - you are a natural born leader. What did you call upon to be both the captain in the series, Star Trek: Voyager, and also, the captain of the show on set?"

"Hierarchy in a big family," she replies. "It answers that very simply. Being the oldest girl of eight children, I think, really was the inherent quality of leadership and authority that I've brought to this. It's just the luck of the draw. I think that I probably further enhanced that with my own little subtleties like bossiness," she laughs. "I've always said this - had I not been in this position in my family, I certainly would not have been able to play this role, or been asked to, or probably any of the other very strong female characters I've played in my life. That's just the way it is. Those qualities are God-given. You can't make them up."

"How has your life changed since Voyager, and how will it change after?" Laura asks.

"Good, Lord," she laughs. "My life has changed considerably since Voyager. I would say that this job has been very all consuming in a life that was already very full. So I had to devise a new kind of balancing act in order to conduct my life with any equanimity at all. I think that once the series calms down, I will have a very interesting and difficult readjustment and re-acclimation to normal civilian life. I think it will be very peculiar for me to not be in constant demand, and that will also, conversely, be hugely gratifying. I think Carl Jung was right - that any good artist lives in a constant state of conflict. We're very adept at wanting what we don't want and living in ways that we don't want to live, because in fact, we manage to compartmentalize very well. I have loved this job, but it has made my life extremely complicated and difficult, and when it's over, I will miss it desperately, and I will be complaining, I am sure, within a month on the dearth of work. But that's a dearth and always has been with actors."

"Well, speaking of your career - everybody we've shown this latest story to has commented on what an awesome actress you are," Greg says.

Mulgrew responds, "How sweet of you to say, but I'm sure it all has to do with your excellent writing, as usual."

"Your talent comes through obviously. Captain Janeway - we love her. Who is she to you, and is she the most three-dimensional character you've ever played?"

Mulgrew takes a thoughtful pause. "I wouldn't say I began with the confidence that she was a deeply genuine character. I would say in fact it was quite a trapeze act for a while. For a very long time, I felt it was necessary to play and understand the commands as Janeway. It took me a long time to relax into the nuances and complexities of her, which is nothing more or less than Mulgrew owning Janeway. That realness, which is really nice of you to remark on, is probably my confidence as an actress imbuing the character with that strength. But I wanted very, very much, and it was my goal from the beginning, to make her deeply and profoundly human, and thereby interesting. So, if I've accomplished that, I'm happy."

The conversation swings back to the personal. Greg mentions his father, who considers Janeway the best Trek captain in Starfleet. "It was the first talk we've had in six years, and we were talking about Captain Janeway."

"Six years? Do you have an estranged relationship?"

"We're working on things now. But he's a huge Trek fan, and in particular, he loves Captain Janeway."

"I'm glad. And I'm glad you're talking with him. How old are you now? Thirty-five? You're still young," says the actress. "When you get to be my age - I'm ten years your senior - there's very little of deep merit in life outside of one's primary relationships. I find that the family is crucial to one's sense of well-being."

"Well, you may be ten years my senior," Greg adds, "but you are absolutely beautiful."

"Oh, thank you! That, too, shall pass! I want to just have a little grace in my old age, that's it!"

"You're always going to be beautiful," Laura says, "because your beauty radiates from within. It embodies you with beauty in all arenas."

"I hope that's true. I'm going to try," she says with a bittersweet laugh. "I'm looking at my poor dog. I have to put her down tomorrow. It's been a bad week! She's a chocolate lab - she hasn't eaten in six days. I took her to the veterinarian, who found she has cancer. It makes me very sad."

"We can sympathize. We've both lost animals that we loved. Laura's dog was twenty when she had her put down."

"That's a long time!" Mulgrew says. "It's a funny thing, because I consider myself such a country girl. I'm quite saddened by all this. Anyway, let's go on."

Laura takes the lead. "How does it feel having an action figure?" "I know that they're out there, Laura," Mulgrew laughs, her levity restored. "I don't commune with them. I think that it's funny, and it's whimsical, and I think that it's one of those very odd and rather delightful things in life where you can say, 'well, you may be the President of the United States, but I have an action figure!' The one of me is so ghastly, though! You really wouldn't want to run into that one in real life."

"We have the Captain Janeway Hallmark Christmas ornament," Greg chuckles. "It was a gift from a friend of ours at our Star Trek: Voyager party after we sold our two episodes."

"That's an improvement by degree, I believe. It has to be the heaviest ornament around," Mulgrew giggles. "The tree would have to be made of granite!" More laughter is shared.

Laura asks, "Yesterday, we were passing down the Hollywood Walk of Fame - we saw stars for Lindsay Wagner, Sigourney Weaver. We were wondering if you had a star, and if not, would you like one?"

"I have thought about that once or twice in my life. I think it would be great to have a star, don't you? But I don't think I have warranted a star yet. That would be fun. How does one go about getting a star?"

"We'll find out how and make sure they give you one," Greg proclaims. "We saw Bill Shatner's-"

"Oh, well, if William Shatner has one, I think it's derigueur that I have one, too! I'll have to make the necessary phone calls."

"On a serious note," Laura asks. "How would you say that Voyager has contributed to the Star Trek mythos?"

"I think it's made a very substantial and significant contribution to the mythology of Star Trek - with some very important differences," Mulgrew states. "I've thought and always thought that perhaps it is my philosophy that has helped to shape this fact, and it certainly has to do with the rest of the company, all of whom are very genuine. But there seems to be a humanity to Voyager which I think has finally endowed the Trek mythology with something even greater than its epic Science Fiction approach. When that approach and that concept is rooted in humanity, it then is dignified by something that I think is profoundly important. So that's where I would say we have contributed and enhanced the mythos."

"We'd have to agree with you on that," Laura adds. "Robert Picardo and Robbie McNeill recently shared their favourite memory of their seven years on the set. It involved martinis, Christmas music, and the filming of a final scene [keep checking future instalments of our set visit report to discover the truth behind this event!]. Do you have a favourite memory from your time on Voyager?"

"I vaguely recall that memory myself!" Mulgrew laughs. "That was a great memory. I think those martinis were made in my trailer, one of which went all over my phone, thereby ruining it forever. That was Robert Beltran, who simply can't hold his liquor," she says with a chuckle. "There was another night when Robbie McNeill and I were working very late. It must have been 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. It was one of those very unusual nights. We were starving and we raided Craft Service [the caterers on the lot]. We sat on the floor and ate probably twenty bags of chips. It was disgusting. We then waddled onto the bridge and tried to be our characters. I've had some great memories. Most of them are about laughter, which reconfirms what I've always said. It's all about people, and it certainly has been about people on this show."

Greg quips, "Voyager seems to have such chemistry. We've talked to everybody on the show about that chemistry - except for Jeri Ryan, who doesn't do interviews."

"She doesn't?" Mulgrew exclaims "How strange."

"But everybody we've talked to has commented on what a generous actress Kate Mulgrew is, how professional, and how your preparation is infectious. They want to be at their best, because they see you at yours. What drives that giving nature? What drives your passion?"

"I've asked myself that question a million times in the last twenty-eight years as an actress," Mulgrew says. "Professionalism was something that was instilled in me very young. I was saved by it. I sometimes think of myself as the last of a dying breed. I was very well trained by an extraordinary woman who made it very clear to me that professionalism was something that would save my life had I the guts, the integrity, and the constitution to honour it." Mulgrew is referring to theatre great Stella Adler, who took the young actress under her wing during her early days in New York City. "I made up my mind when I was eighteen years old to do so. In other words, I simply said to myself if this is my craft, which I claim to be so passionate about, which I claim to love, and which if I love will feed me in turn, I must honour it by always being prepared, always present, and certainly as generous as possible to my partner. So I would say, throughout it all, it's the one value to which I've subscribed, and always will. My husband says I'm like a ball player, a pitcher. They throw you out on the mound, and you make it your business to get an out on the field. I don't think that's a very interesting comparison," she laughs.

"Now that you've been involved in the genre for seven years, do you think you'd return to it again?" asks Laura.

"Certainly, I'd return to it creatively," Mulgrew answers. "It's not a genre that has compelled me voyeuristically, let me put it this way. I'm a rather old fashioned person in my ideology. I think I'm more inclined to the past. Must be something about my upbringing, probably something about being Irish Catholic. But science fiction has certainly taught me a great deal, and there's a great deal more it has to teach me, so I would avail myself to it always."

"We would love to see you in Sci-Fi again," Greg mentions.

Mulgrew answers, "Yes, I probably would - why not?"

"Well, you are one of the first ladies of Sci-Fi now - you should be back in front of the cameras when you're ready. It's early, but what are your plans for after April 9 when Voyager wraps for good?

The actress takes a thoughtful pause. "I have a lot of stuff going on, and I have a lot of difficult decisions to make, good decisions. I've been offered a play with a movie in the works. There are other things, but the movie and the play are rather serious and I need to address them as we speak. I've got a lot of decisions to make this week. So, regarding work, I'm not terribly concerned about that, though as you know, once an actor's out of work, they're convinced they'll never work again. That also is one of the advantages to being forty-five. I would like to take some time with my loved ones. A lot of my loved ones are in a bit of a crisis right now and I'd like to spend some very significant time with them, not the least of whom is my beloved husband. He's a great guy."

"And what of your Voyager family," Laura asks. "Could you talk about your ongoing pranks with Tim Russ ["Tuvok"], and who is one up on the other at this point?"

"Let's see where we are right now," Mulgrew laughs. "He's been rather quiet this season, and I think that's because he's a very deep feeling and thoughtful person. I think the full weight of these last seven years and their meaning are having some impact on him right now. He's assimilating that information in his own particular style. I've noticed he's been rather quiet. But he's always quick to laugh. He's become even dearer and sweeter to me. But as for the pranks, we haven't had a lot of those this season."

The Famous Paramount arches on Melrose Ave. Click [here] or on the image for a larger version.
"No black dress socks filled with cotton?" Greg laughs, referring to a famous prank that has made the chat and convention circuits following Russ' nude scene in the episode "Waking Moments".

Mulgrew laughs, "Oh, it's so disgusting! Big black socks. I said, dream on you bozo!" We have one more chuckle, then we say goodbye - for now.

"It will be great to see you both tomorrow. I look forward to it!" Mulgrew proclaims.

We hang up. Tomorrow, it's on to the set!

The taxi drops us off at the world-renown main gate, 5555 Melrose Avenue. Clutching bouquets of flowers for Roxann Dawson, Bob Picardo, and the inimitable Kate Mulgrew, we approach the security gate.

Next stop, Voyager!