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SYFY WIRE Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager cast reunion discovers Kate Mulgrew would redo the first season if she could

By Josh Grossberg
Star Trek Voyager hero

It took Captain Janeway and crew seven years to get out of the Delta Quadrant — and a quarter century more to share their adventures online.

The cast of Star Trek: Voyager reunited on a Stars In The House livestream Tuesday night to celebrate the fourth Star Trek series' 25th anniversary as well as help raise money for The Actors Fund to assist those in the entertainment industry left unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kate Mulgrew (Captain Kathryn Janeway), Garrett Wang (Starfleet Officer Harry Kim), Roxann Dawson (Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres), and Robert "Robbie" Duncan McNeil (Helmsman Tom Paris) zoomed in to answer the first round of questions from SiriusXM hosts Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley, as well as Netizens beaming in from around the globe.

Joining the conversation a little later were Robert Picardo (The Doctor), Robert Beltran (First Officer Chakotay), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine), and Ethan Phillips (erstwhile cook turned Ambassador Neelix).

The Voyager alums traded old stories, cracked jokes, and caught fans up on how they view the iconic show, which ended its seventh season run on UPN way back in 2001.

Here's a roundup of some of the biggest revelations, including what Mulgrew would do over again if she had the chance!

When asked by a fan in Australia what it was like to be the first female captain in the Star Trek universe, Mulgrew compared it being "shot out of a cannon" — especially since she came in as a last minute replacement when Geneviève Bujold, the actress originally hired to play Janeway, quit on the second day of shooting the pilot (apparently she wasn't accustomed to the pressures of working on a weekly TV series).

"It was terrific. It was overwhelming," said Mulgrew, now 65. "I was not the first choice [for the role]. Geneviève Bujold had it for two seconds. I had about four days to collect myself and then I started Monday morning. It was a formidable undertaking but once I got my sea legs it was great."

Added McNeil: "There was a lot of uncertainty when Geneviève left…and the moment you said the first line on the bridge, personally I said this show is gonna work. We were gonna make it."

Quizzed about what they liked least about their characters, some of the cast members noted the challenges posed by the uniforms (Garrett: "It pulled in all the wrong places") and long hours getting into and out of makeup (Dawson: "the makeup… was 2 ½ hours to put on and 45 minutes" to take off). Others noted the difficulty of portraying a character sans emotion — like Picardo's Chief Medical Officer (Picardo: "at first he was a blank slate").

For her part though, Mulgrew spoke candidly about the toll Voyager's production took on her home life, since the long hours kept her away from her two young children.

"I think the most favorite is obvious because I was the captain and what could be more gratifying than that? Not much," she said. "But my least favorite was the conflict that I still say today that exists for all women in a leading role who are raising children by themselves. That was a very difficult conflict… but it was ongoing for seven years because those were their formative years. They were 10 and 11… and to this day they have not seen [Voyager]. Kids are tough. They want their mother… and they did not understand it, especially with two boys."

When not going out of their way to praise each other, the show's inclusiveness, or their fans, the cast couldn't resist poking fun at each other. They also revisited old jokes — like the irony of the Doctor finally getting a proper name, "Joe," in the series finale.

"I think the joke over the seven years was that once my character was given the freedom to select his name, he couldn't make up his mind," said Picardo. "The fact that they gave me Joe was a personal joke to me cause every male in my family was named Joe. Joe is the most popular name in my family. So it tickled me."

When asked about revisiting Seven of Nine in CBS All Access' Picard, Ryan waxed poetic about her character's "resiliency and guts" and how "she's trying and struggling... she's just awesome."

When Mulgrew wondered out loud about the future of the new Star Trek spinoff, Ryan also revealed that Season 2, which CBS already greenlit, was scheduled to start shooting in the middle of June, but due to the coronavirus, has been temporarily postponed.

"They're hoping we can start shooting in the fall," she said.

Towards the end of the Q&A, Mulgrew dropped perhaps the biggest bombshell about her taking on Janeway: what the stage and screen veteran would do over again, given how quickly she had to take on the role in the first place.

Mulgrew: "A lot… I would certainly go back and redo the first season and endow that language which was diabolical with real meaning… those were terribly long days and I didn't know what I was doing. Had I had the guts to endow her more completely with knowledge of what she was saying, I would have felt steadier on my feet."

As for this being a pandemic, when asked how to avoid COVID-19, Mulgrew suggested doing what any good Starfleet officer would do: stick to the science.

"I would certainly abide by what science dictates to the letter. That would be wearing the mask at all times, wearing the gloves at all times, keep social distancing at six feet, and stay in at all times as much as you can," the thesp said.  

Now that's the way to live long and prosper.