ANOTHER INTERVIEW WITH KATE MULGREW


ASK KATE!

*People have been asking for a long time if we could have a column where members could ask the questions they would pose if they could have a conversation with Kate. We collected some of those questions and, thanks to the miracle of telephone technology, we were able to have this conversation. This is an experiment. If you have a question for Kate, send it to Now Voyager c/o Jeanne Donnelly, 13021 S. 48th Street #1111, Phoenix, AZ 85044 or e-mail it to jeannier@ix.netcom.com. We cannot promise responses to all queries, but we will do our best to ask Kate when she has free time.*

*How are you and your boys? *

Fine--we just got back from Iowa. I took them home to see my parents, and I've
never seen them quite so good. They're growing up. Manners are everything to me--
I know that sounds archaic--and they are showing very good manners, which simply
means a kind of kindness and attentiveness. They know how to listen and they know
how to be gracious, and, in my opinion, that's a passport.

I must thank all of Now Voyager for the wonderful donation to ICC. That was quite
a surprise, and delighted my soul. I'll tell you, Sister Bridget has done nothing
but write me letter after letter praising you. It means everything to me.

*If you could have just five books in your library, what would they be?
(Barbe)*

Oh, God, that's an impossible question to ask someone who reads as much as I
read. But I would have to put War and Peace at the top. I would put the
autobiography of Thrse of Lisieux up there--Histoire d'une me, History of a
Soul. I would probably have the Bible, for sheer reference. I have so many
wonderful books that I adore. I would choose literature that has deeply moved me,
not because it's so popular but because it's so personal. I think Angela's Ashes
by Frank McCourt was not only incredibly deserving of the Pulitzer, but just an
exquisitely written book. To me, that exemplifies what good writing is all about.
That man photographed his childhood in Ireland, and to me it is a priceless piece
of literature. Oh, the lives of all the great people...but who's written the best
biography or autobiography? I have stacks by my bed, I could just go down the
list. What would the fifth be? It's too hard--I don't know, we could spend
forever on this. The Russians are high up there, though--Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky,
definitely.

*I understand you enjoyed The Cloister Walk [by Kathleen Norris]. Read any other
good books lately? (Alana)*

I enjoyed it, but not head over heels. My inclination is to be a Catholic mystic.
This woman was a Protestant, and although her insights and her spiritual
movements were deep and fascinating, they were not as complex nor as grotesque as
I think the true mystics really are. So I'll go the way of the Catholic mystics,
I'll read John of the Cross, or St. Augustine, or my sweet Thrse. It was nice
reading--nothing over the moon.

*Who's your favorite painter, besides your mom? (Jenny)*

Unbelievably tough. I mean, three or four come to mind immediately. Rembrandt,
Picasso, Goya, Diego Rivera...I love the Miniaturists as well. He wasn't a
painter, but Giacometti, as a sculptor, was breathtaking, for my money. So off
the top of my head...it's interesting that I didn't put a woman up there. I like
strong and ardent, and I suppose I like that male ego in there. I don't know why,
but for me it translates so beautifully to canvas. It's not like the other arts.
I've studied it all my life, because my mother is a painter, and she agrees.
There are a lot of women painters, but not as wonderful--I mean, you really can't
say that Mary Cassatt could hold a candle to the other Impressionists, for my
money, or taste. Or that Frida Kahlo in any way rose to the plate as Diego Rivera
did. Although I adore Frida Kahlo, when I hang her next to Rivera, I'd rather
look at Rivera. That's the bottom line, although I could spend days looking at
her stuff, too. I'm telling you what I would buy--I would buy these guys, because
it's my conviction that they are greater. There are some splendid women, I think
I need to study them more. And Rembrandt loved women, so you see I didn't pick
all egomaniacal men.

*If you could give advice to your past self, the one who was just getting into
the business and craft of acting, what would you tell her? (Rahadyan)*

That's a very good question. I think it would be about the ego. I would urge her
to put her ego aside, to learn the beauty of failure. It's been a great problem
for me all my life--I don't like to fail, and of course you know you can't learn
anything if you don't fail. So to embrace failure, and to understand that it is
inherent to the evolution of a creative self--I was just so driven when I was
young. I would say to be more driven towards the absolute crystallization of the
art rather than what it promises.

*Of your television and movie roles before Voyager, which role did you enjoy the
most and why? (George)*

I would say, no question, it would be one of my theater roles...and of them all,
I would say Hedda Gabler. Simply because Ibsen is a great genius, and he
understood that kind of tortured mind, and he understood the female mind at a
time in Scandinavian society when she was not to be understood, and he understood
the cost of adjusting to a culture that has no soul. That was Hedda. He also
understood the monster in all of us, which to me is intriguing, and wonderful to
play. My ex-husband did just a splendid job directing that, at the Doolittle--it
was kind of a love letter, I think, because it was so exquisitely done, and he
did it on the sort of epic canvas which I think suits Ibsen. But I'd like to have
another shot at that now--you really have to know what you're doing to play
Hedda, and I think that perhaps I was a bit too young to grasp her. Anyway,
that's the one--Hedda, because she was the most challenging.

*If you were given the opportunity to portray any character ever written for a
female, stage or screen (excluding all characters you've already played), what
part would you chose and why? (Christy)*

It's a bit of a toss-up, here, but I think I would go with Masha in Chekhov's
Three Sisters. And I better go fast, because I'm getting a little long in the
tooth for her--any time after 55, it's not advisable. Masha, because she
exemplifies everything I love about the Russians, everything that I love about
the epic soul--it's drama at its best. It's absurd, and it is poignant, and it is
tragic, and terribly funny, all the nuances of human nature that I most enjoy
come together in Masha. Right after her, it would be Lady Macbeth, and I suspect
I'll get a shot at her.

*How has your approach to Janeway changed since "Caretaker?" (Amy) Since Captain
Janeway has become more action-oriented, I've noticed that she's become less of a
"toucher." Are the writers trying to make her appear less nurturing and more
tough? (Deborah) Are you comfortable with the recent developments in Voyager's
storyline? What would you like to see happen as a nice character challenge for
Janeway and the other principal players? (Janet) What would you like to see
Kathryn Janeway do more of? Less of? (Jacki)*

Well, first of all, she's changed a great deal since "Caretaker." Enormously. And
the biggest change is relaxation. I am infinitely more relaxed now than I was
when I did "Caretaker." Now, what this has to do with the touching, or the
action, I'm not sure. I have very little to do with the stories that they write--
I can't choose the essence of the story. I can posit my opinion, and I make
changes as I see fit, but if they're going to do "Macrocosm," that's what they're
going to do--I've got to take the phaser rifle and do it, and I might as well do
it 100%. But that's the only episode I was action-oriented in. I can live without
jumping down the chute with the phaser rifle--I'll be perfectly frank about that.
I think perhaps it may have been a mistake--I think that, as the captain, it's
very captainly to delegate those jobs to other people. When other people are
unavailable, I'll do it.

I have helped with these recent developments in the storyline. I've distilled
her, and I feel that authority is key--in my case, I would like to make it
gracious, and human, and accessible. But I would under no circumstances like to
be known as the 'touchy' captain, because on all the ships I've visited since I
started this role, I've never noticed once a captain touch a crewman. I've never
noticed it, actually, in any position of great authority. So I observe that, and
I take it to heart--I don't think that it has to be severely curtailed with
Janeway, but I have to be quite selective. I would prefer to do it on a one-on-
one, I would prefer to do it when it is absolutely necessary to the well-being of
the other person or myself within that scene. It shouldn't be arbitrary, it
should be important. That's my way of saying to whoever it is, "I understand how
you're feeling--I don't have time to express all of this, but I'm going to touch
you."

I think there's a seriousness now; we've been lost for a long time. And the flip
side of that is humor--in equal measure, I would almost say. If I were lost for
three years with that many people, I'd be getting pretty serious about getting
home, and I would also be enjoying the absurdity of it. So I've encouraged them
to show that. It sounds schizophrenic, but there are two very important levels
playing here: she is responsible, and at the same time, who the hell can endure
that kind of responsibility? So there has to be laughter, there has to be warmth.
But I think when I'm on the bridge, when tough stuff comes down, the stakes are
now so high that there has to be a very quiet and intense seriousness. To suffer
any further losses would be almost too much for Janeway. I need to hold on to
these people.

I'd like to see her get into her relationships with her crew. Real people. It's
why I objected so strenuously to the Doctor episode, "Real Life"--why would the
Doctor, who was a hologram, be the only one to explore relationships? I have a
little struggle with all that holodeck stuff, and I'm hoping against hope that
the Da Vinci thing works. But even if it doesn't, it's a place for me to go
alone, and have talks with Chakotay. The set works beautifully. I'm just going in
there to write, and read--use it as Janeway's getaway. He comes in, and I let him
in slowly--I'm a little mixed about him, since the Borg thing.

*Which action figure do you want to see--Resistance Janeway? Southern Belle
Janeway? Bedtime Janeway? Or the ever popular Bathtime Janeway? (Rachel)*

Oh, let's just see them all together! Right, Rachel?

*Do you worry at all that playing a strong, independent woman like Janeway could
have a negative effect on your career after Voyager, since, as Glenn Close says,
actresses are usually employable only for as long as they're perceived as
appealing to male desires? (Sara)*

Not at all. This can only stand me in good stead. And I'm very surprised that
Glenn Close said such a thing. I've been a lot like her--I've never had nearly as
stellar a career, but I have never been perceived as a sex symbol. She's very
good, very intelligent, she's had a wonderful career--it's a bit like Streep.
They're too smart. It's never been about sex [with them], and it's never been
about sex with me, not even when I was quite young. So I'm sure that that's the
way it will always be. And if anybody's got to have a legacy, I don't think

Captain Janeway's half bad. So I'll get around that, in my own fashion. If you're
good enough, you're good enough, aren't you? If you're only good enough as the
role that made you something, then you're not really to be taken seriously. I've
never been in that club because I've never been a young movie star. Those girls
have the power, but then they seem to lose it. So I think it's a very good thing
I've never thought that way, and neither has the industry regarding me, so I'm
not worried about that at all--it takes me off the hook in a big way.

*On the show, Janeway appears to be about 5'8" or so, due to high heeled boots,
camera angles, etc. Do you think this is necessary for your character?
(Theresa)*

I'll tell you the truth, they've ruined my feet! I'm 5'5", so the boots are three
and a half inches...but they do that because they have to. They let me put my
flats on and shot a couple of scenes, so I could see it--I looked like a little
dwarf. I would just be too diminutive, you would spend the whole time saying, "My
God, can't Q pick her up in his hands or something?" So I have to wear the boots,
because the guys are all tall. They made me a beautiful pair of boots--it's just
hard on the old feet. I'm vain about my feet. Anyway, I do think it's necessary
for the character.

*Do you feel confused about the direction Captain Janeway is developing as
Voyager is overhauled every year, with a new focus on the storyline? I would find
it hard to develop a character if the parameters keep changing. (Peter)*

This is something that I am going to have to grapple with--I am the first female
captain, let's face it. Whoever said this was going to be easy, that they were
going to get a great arc going, that we weren't going to have to stumble and
fall? We're dealing with a woman, and I have as much to teach them as they do me,
and we have to work together--which we do, I'm sure I'm on the phone a lot more
than Patrick Stewart ever had to be. And I fight, and fight hard, and I do the
best I can. I can't fight City Hall--I can't write the story myself, and I can't
change the essence of the story. But I can change what I feel, if it's negative
for Janeway, or inappropriate, and we do try to work together. My view now is
that Janeway must be a good and strong, skillful, and I would even go so far as
to say a dangerous contender if you thwarted her. This is a captain first. So
that's what I'm working on, and I don't think we have to lose any of the
marvelous byproducts of who she is as a person to develop her captaincy.

*What do you think is wrong with Voyager and what would fix it? (Maria)*

I would take the inherent strengths of Voyager, which are Captain Janeway,
Commander Chakotay, the Doctor, and the rest of the core group--Torres, Tuvok,
Paris--and I would make those people and the complexities and nuances of their
relationships so interesting, so real, and so compelling that you could take the
young male demographic and...well, I would stop worrying about the numbers and I
would worry about the heart. But I'm not a businessperson--I don't have billions
at stake in this franchise. I'm a salaried actress, and when this is over, I'll
be a salaried actress. I want to go out of this thing when this is over saying
that we did great storytelling, and the way to do that is to take your strongest
core members, and you write for them and about them, and you'll have a hit.

If I lost it for Janeway, I'd quit. Have done in the past and will do again, no
question about it. I don't do what I don't like, my life is way too short. If I
didn't buy the fact that I think that she's a great woman, and that this
franchise is still one of the noblest, I'd quit and they could sue me for every
penny I've got. I think they know I feel that way about it, and I feel that way
about everybody else--I mean, I say this to my company--you don't want to be
here, adios. Go on out and get on the bread line.

*I'm afraid Voyager is going to repeat the dumbing-down of Deep Space Nine in
the name of demographics, which put the female first officer in a catsuit, etc. I
can handle the holodeck bikinis, but I hope they'll give the new Borg woman a
strong personality in addition to the catsuit. Chakotay hasn't slept with her
yet, has he?*

It bothers me that she's in a catsuit. And he's not going to sleep with her. Not
my Chakotay. He just can't. He's too good. Leave him alone.

*I would like to know if it is true that you and Robert Beltran have been quietly
lobbying for a Janeway/Chakotay relationship, as he claimed recently on MSN? If
so, what changed your mind? (Siobhan, Nancy, and Elizabeth) *

I never changed my mind about my relationship with him. I've never wanted to have
sex with him, that's never going to change--write it in big, bold letters, I'm
not going to go to bed with him! I want a relationship with him. I've always said
that. You can make this very clear: nobody has lobbied longer, harder, or more
strongly for a deep and important relationship between Janeway and Chakotay than
Mulgrew and Beltran. It has been ever thus, and it will never change. And if
anything threatens that relationship, I will really fight for it, like a cat.

I've talked to Jeri about it at length, I've talked to them all. I said, you
know, you can maximize here. Don't minimize, and don't reduce him, don't use him
because he's big and strong and handsome. Use him because he really lo-- He digs
Janeway, and Janeway digs him. And then you've got a damn good story. The minute
you start saying, "Well, he can't do it with Janeway, so let's get Chakotay
to...," you're going to lose them. You're going to lose them, and you're going to
lose me.

*I think it would help if you explain what you think a "Janeway/Chakotay
relationship" means. It's clear that you believe they should never display
physical affection onscreen, but lately you've seemed open to a high level of
passion and committment in their interaction. Do you envision them being able to
have an intimate bond, spoken if not dramatized, or do you think that intimacy is
something Janeway will have to sacrifice (barring possession stories, etc.) for
the run of the series?*

A Janeway/Chakotay relationship is a real relationship. That's how much I value
it. Six years isn't long enough to develop this, that's how real it is. It is
slow and deep-moving, it is the kind of connection between two people that cannot
be interrupted by anything on the outside because those two people would not
allow it to be so. He values Janeway and Janeway values Chakotay to such an
extent that it is not even up for discussion--that's why any question of
Chakotay's infidelity is not only rather revolting to me, but completely off-
center. I don't think that he would consider it. That could be an interesting
thing to touch on, his needs as a man.

And her needs as a woman are great, and very, very real--you think she doesn't
long for some sort of touch, to let it down? She longs like hell! But she's the
genuine article. That's what makes her able to touch. That's what allows her to
go into the deepest center of these people. She knows people--she knows her own
flaws and her own needs. But of the greatest importance is that she not let them
down.

And so there are ways to do it, I believe, that don't have to be sacrificial in
the Catholic sense, but I think she can get what she needs from this relationship
in the finest way. She's not going to sleep with him. I don't think [sex] is
dirty, I think it's divine--I just don't think she has the time. It's a split
focus. She's not swearing it off--she believes more than anything else that she's
going to get them home, and then, maybe...that's what I have to believe.

But there are so many levels to this--it's important to me that you in no way
misconstrue what I'm saying. Do you think I don't recognize all of the obvious
things between Janeway and Chakotay? Oh, but I do--but they have to be handled
exquisitely. She's the captain of the ship, she's got to be that first. But I
think, like everything else in life, we can see some slips here. Why should she
not slip? I've encouraged them, also--let's see the faade drop every now and
then. I think we need more one-on-one together, alone, so we can see that.

At this point, I think it would be quite acceptable to see them more alone, and
what happens then, when they're alone. What kind of tenderness, what kind of
tension, what kind of stammering? What kind of touch that doesn't complete
itself, but longs to? Those sorts of things. And then let's see them completely
united on the bridge, and then let's see them not united in private, and what
happens then. But let's make sure that their allegiance is to one another,
absolutely. There should be a lot of that tension, and you're going to see more
of it. It's terribly important to me, this relationship. And I adore [Robert
Beltran] on a personal level. There is absolutely nothing about that man that I
do not like. There's a loveliness to his nature that I respond to completely. He
truly is my anchor, in many ways, and I think vice versa. So we must maintain
that.

The audience that I target, as much as I'd like to have that young male
demographic...what does an intelligent woman of a certain age feel? That's what I
am, I'm 42. I target my acting toward them every week, not a 14-year-old boy.
They can come aboard for all the other great reasons that Trek is fascinating.
That's what my younger son says to me all the time--'Whenever it's about you and
Chakotay, it's interesting, Mom. Or you and whoever, getting into something. But
I hate it when you walk into that holodeck and all those girls and boys are
naked, it's so stupid'-- even a 13-year-old can see that. I'd like to walk away
from this in a few years and have women say, "You know, she did something--she
did something to me." That's the key here.

And on that note, we will have to save the rest for next time!


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