CBS All Access is bringing back some of the biggest names in the Star Trek franchise for the upcoming Star Trek: Picard series, including Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, and of course Jeri Ryan. She played Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager and became iconic to that series. Ryan will reprise her famous role for the upcoming series, but she won't play the same Seven of Nine that fans last saw in the franchise.
One thing in particular that will be different about Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Picard will be her voice. Seven wasn't exactly speaking the way that other humans on the ship spoke, and fans should expect something different after the passage of time before Picard. Jeri Ryan spoke out about Seven's new voice, saying this:
Honestly, it was freaking terrifying, and these two [Jonathan Frakes and Jonathan Del Arco] can attest to that! They both saved my ass! I was freaking out. She was a very specific character for four years on Voyager. There was a lot of growth, and all of that. She went from being a machine to learning to be human. But, particularly the way she moved and her voice, that was what I was really hung up on. Her voice didn’t change that much in four years. So, she had a stilted, very formal, very stylized way of speaking, at the end of Voyager. So, when I got the initial script, and from I knew from the original pitch with James [Duff] a year and a half ago, she is not the same Seven. She is much more human. She been on Earth for a long time, she has been through a lot. So, when I saw that initial script and as you saw 'what the hell are you doing out here?' It’s a very, very different voice. And that is what was freaking me out.
Jeri Ryan spoke about finding Seven of Nine's new voice during a panel that she shared with fellow Star Trek favorites Jonathan Frakes and Jonathan Del Arco at Star Trek Las Vegas 2019 (via TrekMovie.com), and it's not hard to understand why she'd be terrified! Seven had such distinctive characteristics that jumping into Picard to play a Seven who changed drastically off-screen meant returning to Trek wasn't just business as usual for Ryan.
The Star Trek: Picard trailer does end with Seven of Nine saying "What the hell are you doing out here, Picard?" to the man himself, in a line and delivery that definitely would have been out of place back on Voyager. I'm guessing fans could have a hard time adjusting to the new Seven of Nine as well, although she won't be the only character in a very different place in the new show, and I don't just mean that Picard has a dog now.
Still, fans might not freak out quite as much as Jeri Ryan did. She also said this about her reaction to play the new version of Seven of Nine for Picard:
I was literally freaking out. I was bursting into tears: 'I don’t know what her voice is! I can’t find her.' So, Johnny [Del Arco] came over and we had lunch and read the script for like an hour and finally he just – I was so freaked out I couldn’t think clearly about it – he said after an hour: 'just try this, what if…'
What are Star Trek friends for if not a calming lunch to get comfortable with new scripts for old characters? Jeri Ryan clearly appreciates how Jonathan Del Arco made the effort to stop her from freaking out. She does have a tough task ahead of her, perhaps even tougher than some of her costars. Seven of Nine may have gone through some of the most drastic changes in the time jump.
How fans will react to the changes to Seven of Nine for Picard won't be determined until the new show debuts next year, but they can have plenty of fun speculating. Although Brent Spiner did reveal some of what to expect about Data (and there's both good and bad news) in Picard, a lot about Seven of Nine is still shrouded in mystery. What happened that her speech pattern changed so much? And what other changes are in store?
So, what helped Jeri Ryan get used to the idea of playing Seven of Nine in her new circumstances, all these years later at a very different point in her life? The actress shared, saying this:
Clearly, she is always going to look like a former Borg, because she has these implants that can’t go away. So, what if she had to make that choice – a conscious choice – to sound as human as possible. And that’s all I needed. That’s what I needed! I just needed something for it to make sense as an actor as to why she would have that huge of a chance. Then it made sense to me. I was still freaking out in my first scene.
Seven of Nine can't make the choice to look less like a Borg, but that doesn't mean she didn't have other choices during the time before Star Trek: Picard, and that concept is what Jeri Ryan needed to get into gear to play her character once more. Would Star Trek: Voyager Seven of Nine have casually asked what the hell he was doing? Certainly not. Picard Seven? Apparently!
Honestly, as happy as fans probably would have been to see Jeri Ryan back in Voyager mode for her brief appearance in the trailer, the differences that are already apparent give a lot to speculate about in the months still ahead before the Picard premiere on CBS All Access. She was also saved for last in the thrilling trailer, so perhaps she has a significant role in the new series.
We'll have to wait and see. Star Trek: Picard will reportedly be a "hybrid" of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Discovery, which is at least something to go on while details are still relatively scarce! For the most current Trek action, you can catch the first two seasons of Discovery streaming on CBS All Access now. If you're in the mood to see Jeri Ryan in her original Seven of Nine mode, you can find Star Trek: Voyager streaming on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix.