Interview: Kate Mulgrew

Talking Trek, Dragon Age: Origins and the mysteries of the universe with this sci-fi icon.

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Mulgrew, KateCould you tell us a little about your character in Dragon Age: Origins?

The name of the character that I play is Flemeth, and she’s a witch, a mysterious witch. The actual extent of her mystery is only revealed if you play the game to the end – she’s very richly textured. Her history reveals itself as she reveals herself, so it’s not all dark. There’s a reason why she is full of this rage and it emanates from what happened to her when she was a young and very beautiful woman, and had to pay the price for a love that she once had. But you learn that she’s not without one scintilla of goodness, she does save our hero, but she does have a lot of daughters, and she can become her daughters if she wishes to. This is her great gift as she can become whatever she wants. She can become a dragon, she can become Morrigan, her daughter, anything she likes. That is also part of the game, and the great challenge of the game is the hero has to recognise when she appears and where, ultimately to defend and protect himself.

What was it that drew you to the project?

I love using my voice in this way, and these people – BioWare people – are a very professional, very organised, very generous group of people. I think it’s very well written, that there’s an intelligence and a depth to this videogame that I don’t see very often, and I think that this company is well known for that. I loved that range that they allowed me to have with Flemeth, from her very darkest tones to moments of almost girlishness. That was not only suggested, but I was allowed to play that. And you know, going from fury to confidence, and confidence to reflection, she’s got a lot going on, Flemeth, and I think these producers, as well as the engineer who I worked with, mimed that and wanted that, and gave me the freedom to do it.

Do you have to take a different approach for acting such as this, or is the discipline the same?

Well, I would say that the approach is more immediate than it otherwise would be. I have a script in front of me, so I’m deeply relaxed on that level, but I also have a heightened sense of imagination, so that I can flip my voice wherever I want to take it, because I have the added comfort and solitude of the booth, and the script in front of me, so it’s the best of all possible worlds for an actress who wants to use her vocal dexterity.

08With technology developing as quickly as it is, do you feel that there will be a time when videogames overtake film and television as the pre-eminent entertainment medium?

Well, I don’t have that kind of prescience, but I imagine the way that things are going it’s going to have an incredibly strong market; I mean young people are very drawn to this, they were raised with this. I wasn’t, so I linger in the more sepia tones of film and television as it once was, but we must advance, mustn’t we? I mean this is the world of science, let alone science fiction, and as technology advances we have to catch the wave, right?

What is your fondest memory from the set of Star Trek: Voyager?

The friendships, I think. I can’t choose one, but I can say that I made in Bob Picardo and Robbie McNeill and others, great friends, friends forever. Certain truths, and intimacies were shared over seven years and they were profoundly moving. So in as much as the job was everything for almost a decade of my life, these friendships allowed me to fully embrace it.

As a female Starfleet captain, it can be argued that you embody Roddenberry’s message of equality far more than Kirk or Picard did. Do you agree with this?

Of course I do! I think that Roddenberry wanted very much for a captain to explore his or her own humanity, via every other alien species that he or she would encounter. And I think that I was allowed that, I fought for that. I said to the producers early on that we only really had one way to go here. You had to let me command from the root of my own nature, which is to love and to protect, which is to introduce a degree of levity on this ship that is lost in space, which is to form friendships. I wanted her to develop over the seven years, and I think that I succeeded in that. I hope I did.

The show drew some criticism for humanising the Borg over the years. Would you say that they became less effective as an adversary as the show went on?

I don’t know, I mean Seven Of Nine was a very tough and powerful character to bring on board in the humanisation of the species, so maybe that softens that adversarial relationship, but I don’t think in any way mitigated the horror of that final confrontation between Janeway and the Borg Queen. I don’t think for one minute that when you saw the Borg Cube approaching Voyager that a terrible chill doesn’t run down your spine. I think that with the Borg, resistance is futile, and in the person of Seven Of Nine, it was just a way of trying to further understanding of Roddenberry’s vision.

stvIs there an episode that stands out for you as a favourite?

I loved ‘Death Wish’, the discussion of suicide in the Continuum, because I thought that it was the first time that we really saw Janeway in a conundrum. And that’s the best of Star Trek, when the dilemma is philosophical. I also loved ‘Counterpoint’, where I could have a little love. I loved ‘Endgame’, where I had my hand in almost every aspect of that. ‘Final Moment’… I enjoyed a lot of them. A few of them left a little something to be desired, but most of them I thought were very well done.

What is it about Star Trek that captures the imagination so well?

Well isn’t it a perfect metaphor for life? First of all, mortality is an encapsulating thing; we are all in a ship of some kind. I mean, we’re all caught, aren’t we, in time or timelessness if you wish, and we are lost. All we have is each other, and the transcendence of time, race, creed, species, gender, all of it, I think that it’s probably the most advanced way of looking at the physical world, and that was Roddenberry’s extraordinary prescience. He understood that we know nothing, and to put these people in space, let alone an uncharted quadrant of space was a brilliant concept, a way of letting go of the mortal coil, and the slings and arrows of the world that really have no bearing at all on our souls. So it’s an exploration of the soul, isn’t it?

Have you seen the new Star Trek film?

I haven’t, I imagine that I’m going to be asked that all the time! I haven’t, but not for any bad reason; it’s a reason of comfort. I did Star Trek myself, and I want to enjoy it when I see it, I want to be comfortable when I see it, so I’m going to wait until I can see it in my living room. I understand that both of those young men [Pine and Quinto] are extraordinary. I’m sure it’s beautifully done. I just want to see it in the comfort of my home.

Would you ever consider a return to the character of Janeway?

I would, I’d love to return to Janeway! I’d love to do her in a movie, it would be great.

So if JJ Abrams came along and offered…?

I’d love to do it! I think he’d be wise to do it, don’t you? He should get Picard and myself in there. I think that’s a brilliant idea.

To read the definitive review of Dragon Age: Origins hit the link and see what NowGamer.com has to say about this epic fantasy title.

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