Deyvid reports on Kate Mulgrew's recent Q&A for Warehouse 13
Recently, I was honored to represent the Outhouse in another Q&A conference call hosted by Syfy to promote a special guest appearance on "the most successful series" in the channel's history: Warehouse 13.
As Jane, Kate Mulgrew becomes instrumental in the future of the Warehouse, and is endangered by a plot to eliminate the Regency of the Warehouse. As the "war" on the regents continues, she must make a decision that has far-reaching impact on the Warehouse and the team, and a relationship with one of the agents is revealed.
With her role as Jane being so closely tied to the history and future of the Warehouse, Kate was asked if there was anything she encountered in the role that she found interesting about the background material of the show. Kate responded, "I think what I found most compelling is how interwoven the simplicity of a life can be with the mystical element of life. I don't know how to articulate that any better than to say, what looks common proves to be extremely uncommon on Warehouse 13. And behind every door there are 13 other doors. It's like those Russian [matryoshka] dolls. It was an extremely provocative puzzle to tease out and I enjoyed every minute of it."
The artifacts on W13 may appear to be common objects, but they are endowed with mystical and magical properties that imbue the wielder with special powers and abilities. Kate was asked if she got to play with some of the W13 toys.
"I got to play with all those toys, and lots of artifacts to boot," she replied, continuing, "And that's the other thing, I really want to say this, the beauty of it is you're working in a warehouse and every one of these artifacts is rooted in truth. So I have to tell you, I mean I was there for four episodes, I was learning so much. I mean the Caloti bracelet is based on something that's true. And whenever I get to learn I'm at my happiest. So the artifacts were fascinating, and there was the Farnsworth, sort of their tricorder if you will, and that was fun to work with."
When asked why she thinks fans continue to watch W13, Kate said, "It's smart, very smart, it's tongue-in-cheek, and it's clever. They don't dot the I's and cross the T's, the audience has to stay on its toes. And I think that's exactly what a sci-fi audience prefers; they want to tease out the puzzle along with us. And that's what you get to do with Warehouse 13."
On the topic of sci-fi, one questioner asked how she feels about the genre, to which she responded, "Increasingly honored and interested because, as is true of all things that capture our imagination, I have learned about science through science fiction, and I know that they are joined, they are allied. That alliance has given me a great deal of intellectual foresight. And I'm learning that this fan base, which is almost inestimable, is very smart. And what they're interested in is the metaphor of the starship and their personal experience and journey through life. So I'm drawing these parallels. I'm learning about the metaphors and I'm having an open conversation with these fans. And it is always fascinating to me."
After having portrayed one of the more iconic women in science fiction, and now portraying another powerful woman on W13, Kate feels that the depiction and role of women in sci-fi is getting better "by leaps and bounds."
"The women are grounded and exalted at the same time, which is of course what a good female character should be. We have dimensionality, we have great truth, we have power, we don't have to sacrifice our femininity, we have honesty, and most importantly we have humanity. So indeed, it is getting better. And that's probably the most beautiful thing about Warehouse 13, there's no glass ceiling there. [Executive Producer and writer] Jack Kenny understands that the glass ceiling has long since been shattered. So it's a new day."
When it comes to sci-fi parts versus non-sci-fi parts, she feels there is a significant difference between the two: "You have more green screens, you have many more special effects, and that in itself can be more challenging. Also you're dealing with a different mentality. I would say, it's a different kind of imagination, a different kind of creative imagination. It's very forward-looking, although it's essentially rooted in science, or reality I should say, the wings, the nature of it is bigger than life. So in that regard it's very special and wonderful to play."
Despite being an iconic figure in sci-fi with Captain-turned-Admiral Janeway, Kate does not often get sci-fi parts sent her way she says, "I don't get offered these sci-fi parts. This was the first one, and I was delighted to take it because it was not only so well written, but it felt different to me. It felt special, and it felt light and smart. And that's what I want. It didn't carry with it the baggage of some other science fiction shows. It has a real delicacy to it, and at the same time I think it's a well-oiled machine, it's a very sleek and well-run machine."
She was asked if she was attracted to the part on W13 due to it being lighter, not so serious or dark. She replied, "Absolutely. And by lighter I don't mean silly, or dismissive, or even cavalier. I mean there could be depths, great depths to a lightness. But the lightness is just the actor's personal ability to let go of unnecessary baggage such as nerves, a fear of landing the wrong way on a line, all of that. All of that is dispelled and all of that is gone. And on Warehouse 13 it was just like sprinting. It was like flying. It was just fun -- great fun."
It was probably such lightness that lead Kate to accept the regular role of Kove, department head of the National Terrorism Strike Force on the quarter-hour comedy series NTSF:SD:SUV::, a spoof of procedural crime dramas.
"I'm doing another series called NTSF:SD:SUV::, out of Los Angeles, which is a comedy on Adult Swim, with Paul Scheer, who I think is a genius. And all these guys are all highly regarded comedians, and that's [comedy's] not my thing. So I think Paul Scheer showed a certain prescience in asking me to come aboard, because he wanted the weight of Captain Janeway, but he wanted me to wear an eye-patch and be obsessed with sex, which I think is exactly right at this point."
When not acting on television, Kate keeps busy on stage in theater productions such as her recent (2010) performance as Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra on the Hartford Stage in Connecticut, and her upcoming role as Epifania Fitzfassenden in George Bernard Shaw's The Millionairess this September 26th in New York at Gramercy Park. Kate has also done workshops for the play Somewhere Fun by Jenny Schwartz.
In addition to television and theater, Kate Mulgrew has also enjoyed doing voice-over acting for video games, including Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II. She said she loves doing VO for games: "It's a pleasure, because it's so easy; there's no camera, I don't have to get camera ready, I don't have to be on point that way. I'm in a booth with the engineer and the producer and the mic. It's freedom and I get to use my voice, which I like to play around with. It's just great, great fun."
Recently, Leonard Nimoy announced that he would be retiring from the Star Trek convention circuit, so I asked Kate if she had also considered retiring from conventions any time soon or would she continue to make appearances. She replied, "Well I think it's one of the great privileges of having done a Star Trek franchise: you get to do them. I don't do them often; I do the big ones. For instance, I just got back from Australia. It's also just a really lovely way to see the world. So if I do three or four a year, I'm quite happy."
William Shatner, Kate Mulgrew, and Patrick Stewart at 2011 STLV
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About Warehouse 13 The most successful series in Syfy history, Warehouse 13 follows a team of government agents who work at a massive, top-secret storage facility in South Dakota which houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and preternatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. government. Warehouse 13 comes from Universal Cable Productions and is executive produced by Jack Kenny (The Book of Daniel), who also serves as showrunner. David Simkins (Dresden Files) is executive producer; Jace Alexander (Burn Notice, Rescue Me) is co-executive producer and director; and Stephen Surjik (Monk, Burn Notice) is producer/director.
Voyager was the only Star Trek I actually like, so to have Kate Mulgrew do guest stint on one of my favorite shows on tv now, is great. She was great in last weeks episode, and i can't wait to see her interact with the rest of the cast.