Star Trek: Prodigy's Kate Mulgrew Discusses the Joys of Doubling Up as Janeway

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As the first woman captain of the titular ship of a Star Trek series, Kathryn Janeway, portrayed by Kate Mulgrew, quickly became an iconic figure of reason, order, and command.

Janeway's presence aboard the USS Protostar, the ship at the center of Star Trek: Prodigy, as the hologram training program, guide, and advisor to its ragtag crew of young people has been both novel and comforting to fans of the series and the franchise.

On Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 10, the midseason finale of the Paramount+/Nickelodeon animated production, audiences were shocked and delighted to see the return of Vice Admiral Janeway, the real Janeway as it were, commanding the USS Dauntless and headed for the Delta Quadrant.

Mulgrew Oct 2022 Lead Image - Star Trek: Prodigy

Speaking with members of the press via Zoom from NYCC, Mulgrew is enthusiastically fired up by the challenge of bringing two versions of Janeway to the Star Trek: Prodigy world.

Of course, this isn't the first time she's played two Janeways. On Star Trek: Voyager Season 2 Episode 21, "Deadlock," she pulled double-duty when a space-time rift duplicates Voyager.

Janeway Awaiting a Decision - Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 9

Asked how portraying two versions of Janeway as an animated character compares to live-action doppelganger work, Mulgrew describes it as the next step in her relationship with the character.

"It can only help me because Janeway has been living inside of me now for upwards of twenty-eight years. She resides within me. I tap on her [and she's there].

"But then I get to go further with Vice-Admiral Janeway and Hologram Janeway and all the other incarnations that may or may not ensue. So it's nothing but fun. Using my voice alone allows me a certain freedom and latitude that live action did not."

While "Deadlock" required Mulgrew to portray nearly identical versions of Janeway, Vice Admiral Janeway will be a dramatic contrast to the Hologram Janeway the crew and audience have grown to know.

Janeway Gets Serious - Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 8

Mulgrew is emphatic about the Vice Admiral's role and effect on Prodigy and the Protostar's crew.

"She brings immediacy, urgency, and sentience, which is key to sustaining the tension between – imaginatively – Vice-Admiral Janeway and Hologram Janeway.

"Particularly in the minds of the young children who are watching. It's tension. It's dramatic tension that's going to involve them."

Mulgrew has commented before that voice acting is more immersive than live-action performance, which often relies on props, costumes, and sets to connect to a character.

"Do you know what I have that supersedes all of that? I have a robust imagination which seems to know no bounds.

Supervising Hologram - Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 4

"Once I get into that booth and put on those headsets, I let it go. I mean, there's not even a scintilla of holding back or resistance of any kind.

"And within my consciousness, I can go wherever I want to go and have all kinds of vocal dramatic moments. There's a great spectrum to what I can do with my voice."

A central point of speculation is how the inevitable encounter between Vice Admiral Janeway and the Protostar will go down. Mulgrew considers this with a cheeky glint in her eye.

"Well, we're talking about Star Trek, aren't we? So how do you think it's going to go down? It ain't going to go down. It's going to go up.

"But before it gets up there, there are going to be any number of harrowing, dramatic, compelling, emotional moments that you've not yet seen at all before in Prodigy. It's an extremely compelling run of episodes."

Hologram Janeway - Star Trek: Prodigy

With two very different versions of Janeway to bring to life, one would think Mulgrew would prefer to work on them separately. But one would be WRONG.

"I like to do it all at once. They asked me this themselves.

"They say, 'Do you want to do Vice-Admiral Janeway first? And then we'll do Hologram?'

"I say, 'No, let's just do them back to back. Let's mix it up.'

"I like to see if I can trick my head into going back and forth between characters. And I can because I've established a protocol in my mind for each of them."

Earnest Janeway - Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 8

Despite being highly accomplished in both live-action and voice-acting, Mulgrew doesn't see a lot of crossover between the two disciplines.

"Aside from the integrity of my voice, or shall I say the variety in my voice, no, because live-action is a very, very demanding and immediate craft.

"In the voice-over acting, I have a lot of space, and I use it. I love it. There's real liberty in that recording booth with these characters. And it's actually extremely rewarding work."

Anticipating that Hologram Janeway will get to meet Vice Admiral Janeway eventually, does Mulgrew have thoughts as to what the hologram, whose programming is based on a younger version of Janeway, may think of the Vice Admiral?

Janeway's Attention - Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 6

"I think she'd be absolutely impressed and gratified and moved -- insofar as a hologram has emotions at all, which, as The Doctor has taught us on Voyager, is very, very possible.

"I think Admiral Janeway has become exactly what Hologram Janeway would espouse to her young ones on the Protostar."

Star Trek: Prodigy launched twenty years after the Voyager series finale. What lured Mulgrew back to the character of Janeway?

"Well, it was a very lovely invitation from Alex Kurtzman, who, as you know, has now assumed the mantle of the entire franchise. And I can't think of anybody with a more compelling way of extending an invitation.

The Captain and His Hologram - Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 9

"The way he framed it -- that this would be an animated series targeted to children, a demographic we have somehow managed to avoid in all of these years and the very demographic that will love it and embrace it the most -- how could I possibly say no?

"I said, 'Absolutely, let's go! And let's give it everything we've got.' I think it's beautifully done. Dan and Kevin Hageman are geniuses."

"Star Trek is never dull. Right? The excitement is infinite. It has to be. So the fact that I get to play a Vice-Admiral Janeway and Mirror Janeway and Hologram Janeway and god knows what other incarnations of Janeway they have up their sleeve is part of the delight.

"And [it's] also very much a part of the dramatic tension. Very, very much a part of that. The possibilities are infinite. The sky's the limit here. Or, I should say, space is the limit here. And that's a great part of the joy of doing it."

With the Janeway connection, it's clear on Star Trek: Prodigy that Starfleet and the Federation benefited from Voyager's time in the Delta Quadrant with the technological advances they developed and adopted in their time away.

A Heckuva a Ship - Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 Episode 8

In Mulgrew's estimation, was this something Janeway considered while trying to bring her crew home?

"[It was] always on her mind. You know that first and foremost, and always, she is an ardent scientist.

"I've always said, of course, it was awful to get lost in the Delta Quadrant, seventy-five thousand lightyears from home with a 165 complement imperiled.

"But a little part of Janeway went, 'Yes! This is going to be an adventure!' And that's what it's all about."

Star Trek: Prodigy Janeway Poster

The second half of Star Trek: Prodigy Season 1 will stream on Paramount+ starting on October 27, with a new episode dropping every Thursday.

Be sure to check back with TV Fanatic for episodic reviews and recaps, and look out for an exclusive interview with the creators, Dan and Kevin Hageman, coming at you SOON!

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.

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Star Trek: Prodigy Quotes

Drednok: Prisoner Dal Ar-El. What species are you?
Dal: Wow. Getting personal, borderline inappropriate.

Sorry, didn't quite catch that. You'll have to... chirp... a little slower.