Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Voyager Originally Had A Different Captain Janeway

Kate Mulgrew portrayed Captain Kathryn Janeway onStar Trek: Voyager but she was actually a replacement for the actor originally cast as the first female Captain to lead a Star Trek series: Genevieve Bujold. Premiering in January 1995, Star Trek: Voyager was the second spinoff of Star Trek: The Next Generation and it was the flagship series of the newly launched United Paramount Network (UPN). Star Trek: Voyager ran for seven seasons before it ended in 2001 and its legacy continues into the present with the series' breakout character, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), starring in Star Trek: Picard.

A female Captain as Star Trek: Voyager's main character was part of the series' design since its inception; Paramount and Star Trek producers Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Jeri Taylor all felt this was the next logical step after Avery Brooks became the franchise's first African-American lead actor in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The idea that the titular U.S.S. Voyager would be lost in space 70,000 lightyears from Earth in the unexplored Delta Quadrant and would be crewed by a mix of the Maquis and Starfleet personnel was also an integral part of the series' DNA. The starship's diverse and eclectic cast honored the way Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry cast The Original Series; this included Chakotay (Robert Beltran), a Native American First Officer, B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson), a half-Klingon/half-Latina woman, Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) a young Asian Ensign, and Neelix (Ethan Phillips), a Tellaxian.

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Casting the all-important role of Star Trek: Voyager's Captain was a challenge for the producers. The ideal candidate had to lead the cast and handle the rigors of shooting 15-hour days 10 months of the year, but she would also have to bear the added pressures and scrutiny of being the franchise's first female lead. It was imperative that fans would instantly regard Star Trek: Voyager's Captain Janeway to be equal in stature to Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), and Captain Sisko (Avery Brooks).

With just days to go before the start of production, Star Trek: Voyager's producers rejected a slew of candidates, including Kate Mulgrew, but finally, they found what they believed to be the perfect Janeway in French-Canadian actress Genevieve Bujold. Here's why it proved to be a short-lived disaster.

Why Genevieve Bujold Was Originally Hired As Captain Janeway Instead of Kate Mulgrew

Genevieve Bujold is an Academy Award nominee for her performance as Anne Boleyn in 1969's Anne of the Thousand Days, and she starred in Coma, Earthquake, Tightrope, and The House of Yes. Bujold was not a fan of Star Trek or of science fiction in general but in a 1994 interview with National Enquirer, the actress said she felt this would be a positive since she "brings a freshness to the role... This role is a challenge, but it feels right". Additionally, Captain Janeway's original name was Elizabeth and the producers granted Bujold's wish for her name to be changed to Nicole Janeway.

Jeri Taylor and Michael Piller were huge fans of Bujold and they were thrilled to cast her as Captain Janeway. Paramount was also excited since it meant the studio could tout an Oscar-nominee as the lead of Star Trek: Voyager. The holdout, however, was Rick Berman, whose instincts told him that Bujold was not cut out for the demands of a weekly TV series. Berman was aware that Bujold was used to making feature films where she shot a page and a half a day instead of the sometimes 10 pages TV shows require. But Bujold accepted the part and Berman acquiesced.

Why Genevive Bujold Quit The Role Of Captain Janeway

Genevieve Bujold's tenure as Captain Nicole Janeway lasted a day-and-a-half. According to the cast, producers, and director Winrich Kolbe, who helmed Star Trek: Voyager's pilot episode "Caretaker", it was evident that Bujold was not comfortable playing a Starfleet Captain. Outside of the actress complaining about the costumes, her hair, and the lack of what she felt was adequate rehearsal time (as Rick Berman predicted), the producers were unsatisfied with her "internalized" performance when they watched the dailies. Members of the cast and crew recalled a pivotal moment when Janeway orders the U.S.S. Voyager to warp and Bujold sat in her captain's chair, closed her eyes, and softly whispered, "Engage".

Despite her contract guaranteeing her the entire 26-episodes ofStar Trek: Voyager season 1, Bujold quit the role on her second day of filming. Rick Berman was proven right and he explained that "It was immediately obvious [Bujold] was not a good fit". Star Trek: Voyager's production shut down as the process to immediately find a new Captain Janeway to replace Bujold began.

How Kate Mulgrew Was Hired And Changed Captain Janeway

Despite a taped audition that she described as "the worst", Kate Mulgrew was on the Star Trek: Voyager producers' shortlist of favorites for the Captain Janeway role. Among the other actresses was Susan Gibney, who played Dr. Leah Brahms on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The actresses were quickly invited to Paramount to audition for the part.

As Mulgrew recalled in The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next Twenty Five Years by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, she was "at the top of [my] game... that day". Three days later, Rick Berman called Mulgrew and left a voicemail saying, "Welcome aboard Captain." Mulgrew embraced the role of Captain Janeway and she quickly won over the cast and crew. However, like Bujold, she too requested her character's name be changed and the Captain became Kathryn Janeway.

The Impact Of Kate Mulgrew's Captain Janeway On Star Trek

Now that it's been almost 20 years since Star Trek: Voyager's seven-season run ended, it's hard to imagine anyone else playing Captain Janeway. Both the character and Kate Mulgrew have become Star Trek icons and are an important inspiration for a generation of girls and women who grew up idolizing Voyager's female Captain. Janeway brought new fans to Star Trek by combining the best aspects of being both a scientist and an explorer and emerging as a true leader. She cared deeply for her crew but she was also tough as nails and unafraid to make difficult decisions. When Star Trek: Voyager introduced the Borg to bolster the series' flagging ratings in season 4, Captain Janeway became the arch-nemesis of the Borg Queen herself, which became a rivalry that lasted until the end of the series.

After Star Trek: Voyager was over, Mulgrew cameoed in Star Trek: Nemesis as Admiral Janeway, who gave Captain Picard his orders to go to Romulus, which kicked off the main plot of the film. Star Trek: Lower Decks referenced the mysterious "Janeway Protocol", which denotes the lasting impression Voyager's Captain had on Starfleet at large. Best of all, Kate Mulgrew is returning to reprise Captain Janeway in the Nickelodeon animated series Star Trek: Prodigy. Given all of this, it staggers the imagination to think how differently history might have been for Star Trek: Voyager and the Star Trek franchise as a whole if Genevieve Bujold had remained as Captain Nicole Janeway?

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