There were several well-known actresses who were auditioned for what was to become the Star Trek’s first female Captain in the series’ fourth incarnation on television as the Star Trek: Voyager. Some of the actresses were Linda Hamilton who played Sarah Conner in The Terminator, Nicola Bryant notable for Peri in Doctor Who and Kate Jackson from Charlie’s Angels.
The producers of the show eventually made their pick, and it was one other actress, the veteran French Canadian, Geneviève Bujold. She took the role as Captain Nicole Janeway, although the character in the original script went under the name Elizabeth.
However, after only two days of production, Bujold had quit, realizing that work for a television series was too demanding for her.
The Star Trek: Voyager creator and executive producer, Rick Berman had later explained that “it was immediately obvious it was not a good fit. This was a woman who, in no way, was going to be able to deal with the rigors of episodic television.”
It was 1995 and Kate Mulgrew was coming out of a divorce. The Iowa-born actress was planning to sell her house and move to a less-expensive apartment. One year before, she had also auditioned for the role of the new female captain for Star Trek.
At first, she had submitted a videotape in New York in August 1994, however, she was unhappy with this audition and had auditioned in person a few weeks later. That same day, it was decided that the role was to be given to Geneviève Bujold.
On another note, as much as Paramount were keen on diversity, they still wanted to hedge the bets and had auditioned some male actors as well. For a while, before calling to Mulgrew after Bujold had quit, it was allegedly the British actor Nigel Havers who was considered for the role of the captain. At the end, the fortunes changed well, in favor of Kate Mulgrew. History was finally made and she went on to appear as the first female captain in Star Trek, not as Elizabeth or Nicole Janeway, but as Kathryn Janeway.
About her years on Voyager, Mulgrew had said: “I am proud of it. It was difficult; it was hard work. I’m proud of the work because I think I made some little difference for women in science. I grew to really love Star Trek: Voyager, and out of a cast of nine, I’ve made three great friends, and I managed to raise two children. I think, “It’s good. I used myself well.”
Discussing the best and worst parts about playing the lead role, she had stated the following: “The best thing was simply the privilege and the challenge of being able to take a shot at the first female captain, transcending stereotypes that I was very familiar with. I was able to do that in front of millions of viewers. That was a remarkable experience—and it continues to resonate.The downside of that is also that it continues to resonate, and threatens to eclipse all else in one’s long career if one does not up the ante and stay at it, in a way that may not ordinarily be necessary. I have to work at changing and constantly reinventing myself in a way that probably would not have happened had Star Trek not come along. I knew that going in, and I think that all of the perks attached to this journey have been really inexpressively great. So the negatives are small.”
For her role of the famous female captain, Kate was awarded the Saturn Award for “Best TV Actress” in 1998. After the series, she has continued to appear at various Star Trek conventions and events.
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Well, we are not sure about you, but we cannot imagine the Star Trek: Voyager without Mulgrew starring as Captain Janeway. She really did well!