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Why Returning As Star Trek's Janeway Was Both A Want And Need For Voyager's Kate Mulgrew

The new series Star Trek: Prodigy gained the interest of a lot of fans when Voyager star Kate Mulgrew joined the animated series, especially since it didn’t seem she was interested in making a return to the franchise otherwise. Her motivation changed, however, when she learned about Prodigy. And according to the actress, returning to the franchise became both something she wanted and needed to do.  

I spoke to Kate Mulgrew ahead of Star Trek: Prodigy’s premiere on Paramount+ and talked about her decision to return as Janeway, albeit in hologram form. I asked if returning to Star Trek was more of a want or a need, and the actress explained why it's a combination of the two. 

Well, I certainly needed to come back to this character if threatened with an imitation. I think that only I can voice this character, and only I should, because I’m the only one who knows who she is. I think that the young people would recognize that very quickly. That might be arrogance on my part, but I don’t think so. I think they have a very discerning imagination. So, it’s want and need together.

It's perfectly understandable that Kate Mulgrew wasn’t too comfortable with the idea that Kathryn Janeway could return in Star Trek: Prodigy with another actress voicing the beloved character. Ultimately, she felt the authenticity of the character and her history only worked if she joined and that it wouldn’t be the same otherwise. I appreciated Mulgrew’s faith in the prospective young audience of Prodigy, which falls in line with a series that doesn’t wish to talk down to its core audience. 

The youthful viewership is certainly a factor in Kate Mulgrew’s return, as the actress spoke in the past about the cool idea of fans of Star Trek: Voyager watching the series alongside their children or grandchildren. Mulgrew mentioned in our interview that the hologram Janeway won’t be quite as fiery as the Starfleet captain was in her original human form, but it’s a different situation. In Prodigy, she’s an emergency hologram helping a ship of children navigate the massive Protostar through space. That’s not quite as stressful as being lost in the Delta quadrant, especially if you’re a hologram with only a vague awareness of stakes. 

The good news for Star Trek fans is that Prodigy may be the gateway for more Janeway in the future. Kate Mulgrew confirmed to CinemaBlend that no one has yet asked her to reprise the character in live-action to this point, but she expected someone might initiate that discussion eventually. As for whether or not she’ll say yes to bringing Janeway back outside of animated form, Mulgrew teased that she’s already had trouble saying no to things involving Janeway. 

Star Trek: Prodigy is set to premiere on Paramount+ on Thursday, October 28th, and will debut on Nickelodeon at a later date. For more on what’s happening in and around the world of Star Trek, check out what Neil DeGrasse Tyson had to say about William Shatner’s recent trip to space.

Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.