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Jeri Ryan has long been known to TV watchers as Star Trek’s Seven of Nine and recently reprised her fan-favorite role on CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Picard. Now, she’ll be taking on the more sinister role of Gwendolyn Hayes in CBS’ MacGyver. Although both shows hail from the Eye Network, it feels as though they’re worlds apart in terms of their genres. But it turns out it was a Star Trek connection that actually helped Ryan land her MacGyver gig.
Jeri Ryan explained that her prior working relationship with MacGyver executive producer Terry Matalas that partially led to her joining the show. Both she and the producer previously worked together on Star Trek: Voyager. Not only is Ryan grateful to Matalas – who wrote the MacGyver episode -- for offering her the part, but she’s happy to have the chance to play a complex villain:
Part of it is [executive producer] Terry Matalas wrote [this episode], and I love him. He's been a friend from our Star Trek: Voyager days. I like that Gwen is not your typical network-drama villain. She's got a lot of layers. She's a little more quirky. It's not black and white with her. Her motives are noble, as far as things go. In her mind, she’s the hero — she's saving the world.
Jeri Ryan had nothing but good feelings about reuniting with Terry Matalas when she spoke with TV Insider. Because Matalas had worked with her previously, the two likely had no trouble working together. And since he wrote the episode and cast helped cast Ryan, one could assume that he wrote the role with her in mind.
Gwendolyn Hayes was established as the maternal aunt of Angus MacGyver, who never even knew she existed. Aunt Gwen was also a former agent for DXS (Department of External Services) a precursor to Phoenix, the organization Mac works for. However, it’s soon revealed that Gwen is actually the head of the villainous group Codex, which Phoenix has been trying to take down.
Ryan’s new role is a sharp departure from Seven of Nine. When she first appeared on Star Trek: Voyager, she was introduced as an intelligent and loyal Borg drone who soon joined the crew of the Voyager. Seven was also learning how to become better acquainted with humanity. By the time we see her in Picard, she’s changed greatly, something that was a bit daunting for Jeri Ryan when returning to the role.
All in all, it’s good to see Jeri Ryan return to her Star Trek roots, but watching her play something a bit different is also just as entertaining. She certainly had the talent to land her role on MacGyver herself, but it never hurts to have friends in high places.
MacGyver airs on Fridays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.