Sign in to follow this  
fenwyk79

Was Kate Mulgrew portraying Katharine Hepburn as Captain Janeway?

Recommended Posts

fenwyk79   

I'm a huge fan of classic film so naturally I've seen all of Ms. Hepburn's films. One thing that always strikes me about Kate Mulgrew in her portrayal of Captain Janeway was how much she seemed to emulate the emotive behavior of Katharine Hepburn (from that same raspy Transatlantic accentuation to mannerisms). I've always considered her portrayal of Captain Janeway to basically be Kate Mulgrew acting as Katharine Hepburn as a Starfleet captain. 

It's interesting to note that after 'Voyager' Kate actually portrayed Hepburn in a Broadway play called "Tea At Five" (the play is excellent and worth seeking out an audio or video copy, by the way) and absolutely nails it. 

Hearing that Mulgrew is a tremendous fan of Hepburn basically solidifies for me that she was attempting to embody the late Ms. Hepburn in the role of Janeway. 

Thoughts? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm moving this topic to the VGR section...

There.   :)

Onto the question?   Very interesting.  I'm a fan of Hepburn's as well; particularly loved "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" and "On Golden Pond."  And you're right about Mulgrew doing a superb job as Hepburn (I've not seen the show, but I've seen clips and she was perfect).  

Sometimes I think an actor's (or writer's or any artist's) influences can be nearly subliminal at times; it's even possible that they may not be consciously aware that they're paying homage to any person or previous performer. 

If the choice was deliberate, I'd say it was a good one; certainly better than Genevieve Bujold's flat, lifeless line-readings when she (briefly) had the role of "Nicole" Janeway, before she was (wisely) recast.   Bujold had the role for two days into filming before she quit.    Any actor that plays a starship captain needs to bring a certain energy and charm to the role.  It can't just be a stilted authoritarian.  That gets old very quickly.   

I wasn't the biggest VGR fan to be honest, but I never had issue with Mulgrew's acting chops. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fenwyk79   

I'm moving this topic to the VGR section...

There.   :)

Onto the question?   Very interesting.  I'm a fan of Hepburn's as well; particularly loved "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" and "On Golden Pond."  And you're right about Mulgrew doing a superb job as Hepburn (I've not seen the show, but I've seen clips and she was perfect).  

Sometimes I think an actor's (or writer's or any artist's) influences can be nearly subliminal at times; it's even possible that they may not be consciously aware that they're paying homage to any person or previous performer. 

If the choice was deliberate, I'd say it was a good one; certainly better than Genevieve Bujold's flat, lifeless line-readings when she (briefly) had the role of "Nicole" Janeway, before she was (wisely) recast.   Bujold had the role for two days into filming before she quit.    Any actor that plays a starship captain needs to bring a certain energy and charm to the role.  It can't just be a stilted authoritarian.  That gets old very quickly.   

I wasn't the biggest VGR fan to be honest, but I never had issue with Mulgrew's acting chops. 

Apologies for posting in the wrong forum - I'm rather new so it wasn't intentional at all! 

In regard to Genevieve Bujold - she's a phenomenal actress. While we judge her on watching a few minutes of her performance on 'Voyager' my understanding was that she was instructed that Janeway was absolutely exhausted at the time that Tuvok had the conversation with her and she attempted to interpret this exhaustion into her performance which is why we see the 'lifelessness'. This was an intentional portrayal by her to attempt to capture exhaustion in the role rather than a more animated nature.  Mulgrew's was more of a handful of Pall Mall cigarettes and couple cups of coffee later (which falls back on the emulation of Hepburn). 

Everyone is always terribly harsh on Bujold in watching the rough edits of her performance which I think is terribly unfair. If you watch any of her films you really do get a look at how fantastic she is as an actress and with something new she didn't truly understand with 'Star Trek' I think she was attempting to bring a cinematic interpretation to a small screen and we only had the opportunity to see the first cut. 

I do agree that Mulgrew was fantastic as Captain Janeway (even if the writers were basically shit, we're talking about Berman and Braga as opposed to Ira Steven Behr or Ron Moore, in making her look like an uncaring sociopath like in "Tuvix" and not anywhere near up to her caliber of acting) but I disagree with the assessment that Bujold would have been terrible as Janeway. 

Personally, I've always wondered how Bujold would have captured the role at her best with having some time. After all, an individual by the name of Patrick Stewart didn't unpack for weeks after starting on "The Next Generation" out of knowing the series would be cancelled.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologies for posting in the wrong forum - I'm rather new so it wasn't intentional at all! 

No worries!   Easily fixed. ;)

And I agree with you on two other points; Janeway was poorly written, and Bujold is a good film actress (which isn't necessarily the same as being a good TV actress... at least, for television circa 1995; it was a different medium than it is today).
 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Mulgrew DID play Katherine Hepburn in her Broadway play TEA AT FIVE, available as a audfio CD on Amazon.

Take a look at rare footgae of Mulgrew as Hepburn at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8yHL7uHVfc

51uF%2B54TeTL.jpg

And here is again the clips of Bujold as Captain Nicole Janeway - and to tell the truth, thank heavens for Mulgrew !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pgAFV2YxLQ

Gus

Edited by GustavoLeao

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologies for posting in the wrong forum - I'm rather new so it wasn't intentional at all! 

No worries!   Easily fixed. ;)

And I agree with you on two other points; Janeway was poorly written, and Bujold is a good film actress (which isn't necessarily the same as being a good TV actress... at least, for television circa 1995; it was a different medium than it is today).
 

 

 

Bujold said later that she just wasn't suited to it. In a movie you can have two or three days to work on a single scene, something television can't allow for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologies for posting in the wrong forum - I'm rather new so it wasn't intentional at all! 

No worries!   Easily fixed. ;)

And I agree with you on two other points; Janeway was poorly written, and Bujold is a good film actress (which isn't necessarily the same as being a good TV actress... at least, for television circa 1995; it was a different medium than it is today).
 

 

 

Bujold said later that she just wasn't suited to it. In a movie you can have two or three days to work on a single scene, something television can't allow for.

Short order cook as opposed to a gourmet chef, at least in the 1990s.

These days however?  I'd say television has caught up to and in many ways surpassed movies as the front line of good drama. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted on TrekWeb in January 2013

French-Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold was the first choice of the producers of Star Trek Voyager to play Captain Nicole Janeway (see photo). She quit after a day and a half of shooting the pilot episode, with the public reason being she was unaccustomed to the hectic pace of television filming.

The producers subsequently hired TV veteran Kate Mulgrew, and changed the captain's name from Nicole to Kathryn Janeway at Mulgrew's advice.

Here is excerpts of a rare interview with Bujold, conducted in 1994, the only very rare interview in which she discusses Nicole Janeway and Star Trek Voyager.

"I am very excited about starring in the new series" Bujold told the National Enquirer regarding Voyager.

"But I am most admit that I've never been a Trekkie. In fact, although I had heard of Star Trek, I had never seen any of the shows of films before now."

"I am 52 - a perfect age for the captain." she declared

"I dont thinkI've ever seen a science fiction movie at all. But because of that I believe I"ll be able to bring a freshness to this role. I'm studying Star Trek episodes the producers sent me so I can see how William Shatner and Patrick Stewart handled the role of captain, I want to do it right."

"This role is a challenge but it feels right. I am going where no woman has gone before."

The full 1994 interview with Bujold can be found at the National Enquirer

Kate Mugrew herself told Bill Shatner a few Bujold stories in the Shatner's DVD documentary THE CAPTAINS CLOSE-UP. Highly recommended.

91uwYvHqANL._SL1500_.jpg

Gus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sim   

Maybe that's just me, but I've always felt Mulgrew's voice is a merger of Katherine Hepburn and a smurf. :P

Edited by Sim

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe that's just me, but I've always felt Mulgrew's voice is a merger of Katherine Hepburn and a smurf. :P

My wife used to do a funny impression of her... :laugh:

I hate to say it, but she's got one hell of a smoker's rasp (not judging or denigrating smokers; just that I grew up in a house full of smokers, and I know what it does to throats and nasal passages).

At any rate, she brought (IMO) a much-needed shot of 'command energy' to VGR that poor Bujold (an otherwise talented film actress) just couldn't bring to the table. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
maneth   

Oh dear, I wish I'd seen Tea at Five. She's perfect as Hepburn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sim   

Maybe that's just me, but I've always felt Mulgrew's voice is a merger of Katherine Hepburn and a smurf. :P

My wife used to do a funny impression of her... :laugh:

I hate to say it, but she's got one hell of a smoker's rasp (not judging or denigrating smokers; just that I grew up in a house full of smokers, and I know what it does to throats and nasal passages).

At any rate, she brought (IMO) a much-needed shot of 'command energy' to VGR that poor Bujold (an otherwise talented film actress) just couldn't bring to the table. 

Have to admit, Mulgrew's acting on VOY never impressed me. Something about her just struck me as forced. There are quite a few scenes that made me feel I'm just watching an actress acting, rather than Captain Janeway commanding.

I don't remember having seen Mulgrew in other roles, so I don't know if that's more my cup of tea. And nothing against Mulgrew as a person. From what I've seen of her, she seems to be a fine woman.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A friend of mine loves her work on "Orange Is The New Black"; sadly, I've only seen clips of it, and she's radically different from Janeway.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK is a excellent series. Mulgrew has never been better. She deserves an Emmy award.

Gus

And that's one of the reasons I try not to judge the ST actors based solely on their ST appearances;  ST acting is a bit stylized and not very natural.  It's almost more like stage or sitcom acting, where they tend to 'project' and act bigger-than-life.   I guess actors doing DeNiro style method would look a bit silly walking around plastic sets in their pajamas, right?
 

I remember that I used to think the actor who played Travis on ENT, Anthony Montgomery, was a mediocre actor at best.   All he ever did was smile and say a few Mr. Sulu-isms now and then.   But then I saw him on cable in an indie comedy he did called "I'm Through With White Girls" (2007) and he was excellent.   He was funny, self-deprecating and very convincing as a put-upon writer with love issues.  I honestly couldn't believe I was watching the same actor.   His comedic timing was great, and I gotta say, he made the movie work.   I now see his performance in ENT as a guy doing the best he can with one arm tied behind his back and otherwise very little to do.  

Kate Mulgrew may not have been everyone's favorite captain (mine neither) but I don't fault the actress.   Often it's the writing, the direction or a million other things; including the grind of pumping out 26 episodes a year (each one like a mini-movie unto itself).    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sim   
 I guess actors doing DeNiro style method would look a bit silly walking around plastic sets in their pajamas, right?

 

Now as you mention it, that's about how I imagine Captain Calhoun from Peter David's "New Frontier" novels. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
maneth   

Yeah, not her fault that the writing was inconsistent and made Janeway appear that way too. The writers made the mistake of wanting to make the non-human characters more interesting by making the human ones bland and rather flat. That backfired with a vengeance.

Edited by maneth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kenman   

Yeah, not her fault that the writing was inconsistent and made Janeway appear that way too. The writers made the mistake of wanting to make the non-human characters more interesting by making the human ones bland and rather flat. That backfired with a vengeance.

Oh Harry Kim...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
maneth   

Yeah, not her fault that the writing was inconsistent and made Janeway appear that way too. The writers made the mistake of wanting to make the non-human characters more interesting by making the human ones bland and rather flat. That backfired with a vengeance.

Oh Harry Kim...

:P I was thinking of him, but I don't think much of Chakotay or Paris either. They're very bland too in comparison with the character given to even the EMH! And it's all about the writing, I don't blame the actors at all.

Edited by maneth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
kenman   

Yeah, not her fault that the writing was inconsistent and made Janeway appear that way too. The writers made the mistake of wanting to make the non-human characters more interesting by making the human ones bland and rather flat. That backfired with a vengeance.

Oh Harry Kim...

:P I was thinking of him, but I don't think much of Chakotay or Paris either. They're very bland too in comparison with the character given to even the EMH!

THey are all pretty bland and forgettable characters.  And then there is Neelix who has TOO MUCH character.

Janeway was inconsistently written, and while I always found Mulgrew's impression of Hepburn to not be as much fun to watch as actual Hepburn...I don't rerally blame her for Janeway being such a bad character. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
scenario   

A friend of mine loves her work on "Orange Is The New Black"; sadly, I've only seen clips of it, and she's radically different from Janeway.   

I'm watching the show now and she is excellent in it. She actually has a consistent character to play. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sim   

Man, I miss Peter David STAR TREK comics and novels.

I like Mulgrew on VOYAGER. She was classy.

Gus

How is Peter David's health these days? Any word about him returning to writing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mrs. Columbo was playing Kate Hepburn as Janeway? Maybe sometimes she was, but most of the time she wasn't. She didn't have that Hepburn tremble voice from when she was older, which would have been distracting. I didn't think she was bad at Janeway. I haven't seen Orange is the New Black. I did see Kate Mulgrew's one person show though, like Stewart had done. It was good.

Robbie McNeil in Masters of the Universe was quite animated.

Robert Beltran in Eating Raool (plays a demented guy) and Night of the Comet (plays a hyper cowboy) were much different characters and proved he did have range but was also held back. They couldn't have the first officer act like a better commander than the captain.

 

Edited by Chimera82405

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this