Star Trek's Kate Mulgrew Is Open To Exploring A Live-Action Future For Captain Janeway

September 8 has been designated — by the people who designate such things — as Star Trek Day. The date is the anniversary of the first airing of "Star Trek" in the United States in 1966. In recent years, Trek's parent company Paramount, has turned Star Trek Day into a straight-up Trek convention-cum-marketing bonanza. Upcoming TV shows are often announced, and Trek merchandise flies off the shelves. Trek may take place in a post-capitalist world, but the makers of Trek most certainly do not

Given the convention-like atmosphere of Star Trek Day, many of the franchise's biggest stars return for appearances and interviews. As of this writing, the next Trek project to hit the airwaves will be the back half of the first season of "Star Trek: Prodigy," due on Paramount+ on October 27, 2022. "Prodigy," a kid-friendly animated series released under the Nickelodeon banner, is about an abandoned Starfleet vessel called the U.S.S. Protostar that has been discovered by a group of alien teenagers who had recently escaped slavery in a distant galactic mine. The Protostar is equipped with an Emergency Command Hologram, installed to take control of the ship should its senior staff be absent. The hologram was programmed to look, sound, and behave like the famous Captain Janeway from "Star Trek: Voyager." The hologram is voiced by Kate Mulgrew, returning to the role after a fashion. 

In a recent video Star Trek Day interview with Nuke the Fridge, Mulgrew talked about playing Janeway again, and announced that she would happily play the character in live-action again. Given that Patrick Stewart returned to the role of Captain Picard in the fittingly named "Star Trek: Picard," it seems like all doors are now open. Mulgrew, of course, has taken notice.

What the fans want

The last time audiences saw Mulgrew as Captain Janeway was a cameo in Stuart Baird's 2002 film "Star Trek: Nemesis." That film took place after the events of "Star Trek: Voyager," a series that spanned the seven years it took the titular ship to trek back to Earth after being stranded clear across the galaxy (in Trek lore, that would ordinarily equal a 75-year journey). In that film, Janeway had been promoted to admiral. 

When CBS All Access — later Paramount+ — debuted in 2017, they immediately started putting all their eggs in the Trek basket, and multiple projects quickly came to fruition. Among them were "Prodigy," "Picard," and "Star Trek: Lower Decks," all shows that drew directly from known Trek characters and recognizable lore. In this new era, it seemed that any Trek actor who was willing would be permitted to return to the show in some capacity. Thanks to the show's fast-and-loose approach to its own chronology, not to mention its time travel shenanigans, anything was allowed. 

Would, then, a new series specifically about Janeway be in the cards? Mulgrew thinks it's possible:

"I'm always having conversations about it because people like to talk about it, particularly the fans. They're always asking, 'Will you come back, live-action, as Janeway?' And I think, you know, after all this time it might be something that I would entertain. But I don't know under what circumstances, and I think I would need to have some sort of a real genius at the helm. But she's an extraordinary character. She is so elemental, and she is so dimensional at the same time. I think that her mystery and her mystique, and what is fascinating about Janeway, is very, very deep. So yes, I would visit it."

The chronology

Because "Prodigy" is an animated series, the Janeway hologram looks exactly as she did on "Star Trek: Voyager," which went off the air 22 years ago. Mulgrew was likely assuming a potential "Star Trek: Janeway" TV series would catch up with the character in the "present day," as it were, at least a few decades after the events of "Voyager." For the bulk of "Prodigy," the time frame was unknown. The abandoned Protostar might have been, as far as the audience knew, empty for decades or even centuries when Dal (Brett Gray) and the other main characters found it. Janeway could have been long dead. A twist at the end of show's tenth episode, however — called "A Moral Star" (February 3, 2022) — revealed that "Prodigy" was taking place in the present day, and Admiral Janeway was more or less the age she would have been in the "Voyager" timeline. 

As such, a "Star Trek: Janeway" would require overlap with "Prodigy." The events of the show are now linked directly to a recognizable Trek cannon, and — as Mulgrew said — a real genius would be needed at the helm to assure continuity is retained. 

"Prodigy" is returning later this month, and is already intended to have a second season. Should a Janeway-centric show be made, either the "present day" Admiral Janeway character would need to exit from the show entirely and be left to go on her own adventures. Meanwhile, the hologram Janeway could easily stay on board the U.S.S. Protostar with its teen crew. Mulgrew, meanwhile, would simply get twice the work.