|Al Roker, with guest, Kate Mulgrew - 1995
Transcribed by Saffron - August 2000
Notes and Disclaimer: I transcribed this, but I
don't own the copyright. No infringement intended. Please do not post or distribute.
Al: Well, good evening
everybody. Welcome to another extravaganza we like to call here the Al Roker Program. My
guest tonight has gone where no ma'am has gone before, sorry, into the
captain's seat on a Star Trek television series. Of course, we're talking about
Kate Mulgrew, who plays Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager. I also
remember her as Mrs. Columbo and from HeartBeat and Ryan's Hope. Welcome,
Kate: Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.
Al: Well, thank you for coming. I understand, that
before you took this role, you were not a big fan for Star Trek, I mean you didn't
really watch it.
Kate: No, I wouldn't say I was an ardent fan and I think,
in retrospect, that it stood me in good stead so that my, as I view it now, my approach
was not only unique, but it was completely ingenuous. I was liberated from anything the
history might have imposed on me. Do you understand?
Al: Yeah, you didn't have that baggage.
Kate: Right, therefore, there's a subliminal thing always
at play in your performance. How did Picard do it,? How did Kirk do it? An overriding
factor of too much information, perhaps. This way, I was free.
Al: Well, did you have friends or people who came
up to you and say 'Hey. Ya know, this is what you ought to do with this or maybe you
should do this?" or "did you know this about Star Trek" to give you some
sort of history?
you know what? I... people were so gracious to me. Perhaps it's because I was shot out of
a canon is such a remarkable fashion. You know that part went to Genevieve Bujold
originally and she defected after 2 days time, which required a great deal of courage on
her part and I was brought in and quickly put to work. So I think the atmosphere - the
pervasive sentiment that I experienced was one of terrific support. When I walked onto the
bridge, they toot-tooted me [Al laughs] Nobody impose an opinion or, um, too much
information that might have misled me. I think, if anything, I was just buoyed up on a
great cloud of hope.
you decide to take a role that someone else had been in then decided to bolt on. Did that
give you pause at all to do that? What was it that said to you 'I should do this even
though somebody else didn't want to"?
Kate: Terrific instinct. And
I've often said now... I'm 40 years old. I've been in this business for 22 years.
One casts about always for the perfect character. You hear that when you're a very young
actress, 'One day you'll find the perfect part,' right? So, the years come and the years
go ad you do indeed encounter characters you do adore. But this was an alchemy I had not
experience before. I wouldn't say there was a certainty because there is certainty about
nothing in life. But when I read her on the page and in face when I went into the room,
there was a trust; there was a faith and there was an inherent respect I had for her and
I'm not kidding. So when you're given those factors, the only thing left to do is to relax
and trust yourself. And that's what came to pass.
Al: So much
has been made that you are the first female captain. We have this Prodigy survey
for the online service Prodigy, we asked folks how did they feel about the concept
of a female captain - 64 percent said they liked that idea.
Kate: Did they?
Al: Only 10 percent - they disliked it. and this is the one I find is kinda
neat. 24 percent says it doesn't matter.
Al: Now in the time - when
your in Star Trek and you guys are in the Voyager. Does it matter to the
crew that you are female and command?
Kate: My ship crew?
Al: Your ship crew, yes.
Kate: Or are you talking
about my company?
Al: No, your ship crew, your
group, the folks you're sailing with on the Voyager. Does it matter to them that
you're a woman?
Kate: No. What matters to them is that I have command and inherent
command. This 24 percent is the most astute, I would say of this entire log because what I
think has put every one at east, what I had so hoped for, was that the world doesn't
really care what your gender is as long as you do your job well. The captain has to have
that kind of quintessential authority so I think shortly after the pilot, perhaps the
first two, even three, episodes, the viewing audience relaxed and they said, 'we just
trust her in this position.' That's the only thing that really matters. No, I don't think
gender has... it arises because they made a very bold decision, didn't they?
Kate: This was a courageous choice to go with a woman.This
was the fulfillment of Roddenberry's original idea.
Al: Do you think so?
Kate: Oh, he wanted a woman.
Kate: Oh, he conceived of this many, many years ago. But
society has to take it's own time. We weren't ready for this. You can't impose this on a
culture that's not prepared for it. But this is good, now, in the '90s.
Al: In fact, a few weeks ago, you were on the cover
of TV Guide with a couple of other actresses with the title of the cover being Woman
Al: How did you feel about that?
Kate: I felt great about it. In fact, I think I am probably,
and I say this with the greatest respect for everybody else, I think I'm probably the only
woman really in charge in primetime television. I am the skipper of my ship.
There's nobody beneath me. I'm not victimized by anybody. There are no gender obstacles to
overcome. Nobody gives me this woman stuff on my ship. You know? You will not hear that.
That's why it's so successful. Voyager is smart.
Al: We were just talking in the paper today, uh, Star
Trek: Voyager was the only show that survived the fledgling season of the United
Al: Tough times. Do you talk to some of the
other people and know some of the folks whose shows were, uh, shot.
Kate: Well, John DeLancie, who has played Q on Next
Generation is great friend of mine. Possibly my greatest male friend. This is
devastating to actors. Um, you do six, you do eight, you wanna have a shot at it and the
hierarchy, the strategists, come to this decision. They come to it for good reason.
They're smart people. They want to do what's best for the network. But it's a very tough
[fall] for most of these actors. My heart goes out to them. I am, after all, one of them
and I've been there. So, I'm very sympathetic and yesterday I felt very privileged and
certainly quite happy that we were on the docket for next year but,. I wish that I could
have had some friends next to me.
Al: Does that put more pressure on Voyager,
do you think to continue to basically hold up an entire network?
Kate: I don't know if pressure's the word. Because I'd
have to say to you again, we're so supported by UPN and by Paramount. I mean, Voyager
is now...it's established that we're successful. They maintain a constant kind of level
support for us so, if the pressure is on, it's only the pressure of maintain a level of
excellence which we've already established. So I would say no, the feeling is not
pressure, the feeling is one of excitement and privilege and, uh, as far as I'm concerned,
Al: Well, when we come back, we're gonna explore a
little bit more about your character...
Al: ... on Star Trek: Voyager and find out
what's up with Kate Mulgrew when we continue on the Al Roker program. Beam us aboard,
[Voyager clip - Caretaker
Janeway: Move us 400 kilometers from the array, Mr. Paris.
Paris: Yes, Ma'am.
B'Elanna: What do you think you're doing? That array is the
only way we have to get back home.
Janeway: I'm aware that everyone has families and homes
they want to get back to. But I'm not willing to trade the lives of the Ocampa for our
convenience. We'll have to find another way home
B'Elanna: What other way home is there?[to Chakotay] Who is
she to be making these decisions for all of us?
Chakotay: She's the captain.
Tuvok: The tricobalt devices are ready.
Paris: We're in position.
[Voyager clip ]
Janeway: I don't have the luxury of throwing you in
the brig for the rest of this voyage. I need you. I need every person on this ship. But I
want you to know how very deeply you have disappointed me. If there are any further
transgressions, even a minor one, you will no longer be an officer on this crew. Is
B'Elanna: Yes, Ma'am.
Kate: Gotta keep 'em in line, Al.
Al: Phew! Man...
Al: There won't be any further transgressions here
either, honest ma'am.
Kate: [still laughing]
Al: Who is Kathryn Janeway? Tell us a little bit
She's a remarkable woman. She's a passionate scientist. This is the foundation
of her being. Her father was an eminent scientist in his own right. Um, her attraction to
military was borne out of her love of science and her, sort of, unmitigated curiosity
about space and investigation. I often think of her as an exalted private eye. She wants
to uncover every nook and cranny of space. She's, um, she's an artist, actually, in many
ways. She's also a woman of great integrity and character. She's also a woman of
warmth, dimension, conflict. I think you'll find that on this ship and with this crew,
there will be the evolution of relationships heretofore unseen on Star Trek. She's
ardent about life. She loves this crew. Her attachment to them is great. She is capable of
mistakes. Tremendous flaws. Interior conflict. Struggle. I have, after all, sort of...
it's my fault that we're lost in space. I take this with terribly seriously. It is not my
mission to return them. However, it's going to slowly dawn on me, I think, that this might
be an impossible mission. And all the [intended] emotions of despair, conflict, hope,
tragedy, all of it, I hope will be revealed.
Al: But, you know, it's
interesting, if you find your way home, the show's basically over. [laughs]
Kate: Show's over if we find our way home.
Al: It just so happens,
we've got another Prodigy question. We asked folks, 'Would you like to see Voyager find
it's way home?' 61 percent of the folks said yes. They said they want you to go home. Only
26 percent say no... stay lost out there.
Kate: Well, I think what
they're saying, they want us to get home eventually, right?
Al: Uh-huh. [laughs]
Kate: And we want to get
Al: Eventually. Maybe five,
six years down the line.
Kate: This is also the
beauty of Voyager. What's more appealing on a human level than lost. You're lost. Will
they ever find their loved ones again? You take a young guy like Harry Kim. Young.
Uprooted. Will he ever see his parents again? Chakotay. Janeway. Will I ever see my lover
again? And if not, what am I gonna do about that? What are we gonna do about the future on
this ship? We have to start thinking about families on board this ship. If, in fact,
we want to get back to Earth and if, in fact, it's going to take 75 years. We're going to
have to perpetuate the race, aren't we? All of these terribly difficult, almost
epic, questions. But there's not a person in world who I think can't understand them on
some level. There's an appeal for everyone here.
Al: On the show... I mean
it's a real drama and there's a lot of action... is it a fun set? I mean, do you guys...It
would seem you'd have to have a good time behind the scenes to keep yourselves level.
Kate: It's great. It's
great. And I say this with the absolute truth, there was instant camaraderie and now
beyond that there is such happiness and naughtiness.
Al: Any practical jokes
Kate: Oh, it's constant. You
have to know that we shoot sometimes 'til 2 and 3 in the morning.
Kate: We get very silly.
Verrry, very silly
Al: Any examples?
Kate: Oh, Tim Russ does his
Ben Vereen imitation. They rehearse their Christmas special, which is, of course,
non-existent. They love to do that at about 3 o'clock in the morning. There's a great deal
of dancing and falling down - inebriated behavior. [Al laughing] They're delicious.
They're delicious. It's like a family. Usually, in a group of nine people, somebody's
gonna be a little dubious. No.
Al: When you say it's like
family, because we all know what happens with families, we love each other, but sometimes,
Kate: Right. An usually,
there's a bad apple..somebody, right? Nobody. I think their desire to be a whole is
tremendous. We're cohesive, we're professional and I think truly, genuinely like each
Al: Well, it really does
Al: ...and we're gonna talk a little bit more about that with Kate Mulgrew and
maybe what's going to happen on the Voyager when we continue on the Al Roker
program, so stay with us.
Janeway: I beg your pardon.
Neelix: You need to set an example for the crew.
Janeway: Well, thank you for reminding me.
Neelix: You're welcome. I mean, after all, if you want the crew to begin to accept
natural food alternatives, instead of further depleting our energy reserves, you need to
encourage them by your own choices. Don't you?
Janeway: Fine. Give me your 'even better than coffee' substitute.
Neelix: And how about some Taakar Loggerhead Eggs with that this morning?
Neelix: It's a tiny bit richer blend than you're used to, but you'll learn to love
Chakotay: (over the com) Bridge to Janeway.
Janeway: On my way. Janeway out. [to Neelix] Tomorrow maybe.
back. We are talking with Kate Mulgrew, Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager on
the UPN network and you spend so much time, 18 hours a day you guys can be on the set..
Kate: Sometimes 18.
Al: Sometimes. And you're
lucky, you don't have to put on all that make up stuff on, right?
Kate: I am tremendously
lucky. I thank God on my knees every day I don't have to that. That's grueling.
Al: I would think.
Kate: Ethan Phillips. Ethan's
got the toughest job. His is a full mask. So he's called in 6 hours prior to his set call.
Roxann Biggs, who plays B'Elanna Torres, has to come in, I think about 3 1/2 hours
earlier. It's agony, because you're in a state of paralysis. There's nothing you can do
until the thing is completed. And it takes the same about of time to remove it, and then
you're there for 15 hours inside this thing.
Al: [shudders at the
Kate: The oxygen is limited.
I understand, after a while, it starts to burn.
Al: Oh! What, and give up
Kate: Oh. Couldn't do it for
Al: Would you have done the
Al: If you had to put on the
make up, you wouldn't have done it?
Kate: If they had said she
wears a full appliance, I think, even and in spite of my terrific desire to do it, I would
have said, 'Let's see it. Let's go through the process once.' But I don't have the
patience, Al. They can hardly keep me in the chair for 10 minutes as it is. I mean, I am
an impossible person in that chair. They put the lipstick on, flip up the hair, zip up the
suit, and I wanna get on the bridge, I wanna go to work. Don't know what I'd do if I had
to lie there. I'd go mad.
Al: You know, many days I
say, put on the lipstick, put on the hair...no, uh.. [laughs]
Kate: [laughs] no, zip up the
suit, put on the hair...
Al: Yeah.. I don't worry
about the hair.
Kate: That's your problem... not
zipping up the hair [laughs]
Al: See? That's what
the problem's been.
Kate: Fluff up the suit and
zip up the hair.
Al: [laughing] How do you
balance your personal life and life being of on a set all that time.
Kate: This is a tough
question and I have to answer it truthfully. It's very hard. I often say now.. I think
history will bear me out, the world will look back on this time for women. I'd say I was
in the vanguard of women who are truly pioneering a new path, right? We're in the
workplace. We have very successful and important jobs and we're trying to raise children.
I, myself, am a single mother. Two boys. I think it's almost a no-win situation. So when I
distill it, I break it down, I say to myself, all I can do is the best I can do in the
moment to which I am present. If I'm on my set and 12 hours there, I focus on that. If I
have 6 hours with my boys, I focus on that. So that, at the very least, what I can say, as
I stagger to an early grave is, I tried to do these things excellently.But do I think that
it is a happy marriage; do I think it's manageable? No, I think it's a struggle.
Al: It's kind of a fallacy -
the having it all
Kate: You cannot have it all
- nor should you have it all. But you can try to well in the time given you, don't you
Al: Yeah. That's the plan.
Do your boys sometimes say 'Mom, can't you stay stay home?'
Kate: They not only say that,
Al: How old are they?
Kate: They're 10 and 11. And
my youngest son has been ...had looked at me with tears streaming down his cheeks and he
says, 'I don't care about your stupid job. I need a mother.'
Al: And what do you tell
Kate: I say, 'Let's crawl into bed and let's talk about
this. I know you need a mother.' It breaks my heart. The child needs a mother. I am his
mother. That's it. But the mother needs a creative life. Now trying to justify this or
make sense of this to one's progeny is very difficult and I'm not sure it's even fair. I
haven't figured it out. I don't think I ever will figure it out. I will say this and I
hope that this doesn't sound like I'm trying to make an excuse for myself, because I'm
not. I am a passionate actress. This is a great role. It's a role model. In a sense, it's
history making, isn't it? If I can show them...if I can leave them the legacy that their
mother was terribly, deeply passionate about what she did, perhaps then, that was better
than sacrificing my work to stay at home and be a rather frustrated and mediocre mother.
Al: Because without
being...doing what you do...
Kate: Because if I'm not fed
creatively, I mean that is who I am...
Al: ...you're not gonna be
Al: And you're not gonna be
the best mom you can be.
Kate: But it's complicated.
Al: It's a real balancing
act and we, in this industry, I'm a single dad, and while we say how tough it is, for the
folks who have to go out and work at 'real' jobs, I mean secretaries and teachers, and
that sort of thing, who have maybe even less support, it's gotta be even much more
Kate: Much, much more
difficult. I don't think we even have any idea I think, uh, society has a lot to learn
about all... I think we're hard on each other, don't you?
Kate: We're so very hard on
each other. We haven't worked out the system probably, and probably never will.
Kate: We just try to get
through each day.
Al: You know, it's funny. I
remember you in Mrs. Columbo and obviously, the role was somebody who was a little older.
Kate: A little older?
I was 10 playing 55. [laughing] It was a bit of a mistake.
Al: Well, when I saw that
you were 40, I thought wait a minute, this isn't possible, she can't be the same age
Kate: I was 22 at that time,
playing a 37 year old woman, married to an ostensibly 55, 50 year old man Columbo was at
that time - It didn't make much sense. Had they given me a show of my own, right? - Young
Woman Detective, Young Housewife Detective - it probably would have had a shot. But I
think, given the tremendous success of Columbo, and the wildness of that
concept, it wasn't going to work, nor did it.
Al: Well, and you know what?
Everything happens for a reason, because now you are here at this point, you are wildly
successful in Star Trek: Voyager, as Captain Janeway on the UPN network, and we're
so glad the success has happened and you're here to talk with us.
Kate: Thank you, Al.
Al: Kate Mulgrew, thank you
so much for being here.
Kate: Thank you. It was a
Al: Thank you! and of
course, Dick Cavett's coming up next. We will see you next week. That's all for us tonight
We'll see next next time. Good Night everybody!!