Voyager’ role in animated spinoff

Kate Mulgrew is beaming back into the “Star Trek” universe.

The 65-year-old actress, who played Captain Kathryn Janeway in the 1995 to 2001 series “Star Trek: Voyager,” will reprise that role in the upcoming Nickelodeon animated series “Star Trek: Prodigy.”

The announcement was made Thursday during a virtual panel at New York Comic Con. The show — which is currently in production but doesn’t have a premiere date yet — will follow “a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation,” according to its official synopsis.

The “Orange is the New Black” star said she was skeptical about taking the job when approached more than a year ago by executive producer Alex Kurtzman, who has also steered the creation of CBS All Access franchise spinoffs “Star Trek: Picard,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” the animated “Star Trek: Lower Decks” and the upcoming “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.“

“I have to tell you that I was, at first, a little bit uncertain,” she said during the six-minute announcement. “After all, I had played her for seven years, in 4 ½ inch heels. I had invested every scintilla of my being in that woman. And I thought, ‘An animated version of Janeway? I don’t know. I don’t know.’”

Kate Mulgrew played Kathryn Janeway, the franchise's first female captain, on "Star Trek: Voyager" from 1995 to 2001.
Kate Mulgrew played Kathryn Janeway, the franchise’s first female captain, on “Star Trek: Voyager” from 1995 to 2001.Everett Collection; Alexia Johnson

But Kurtzman eventually convinced her to bring back her steely Janeway. “Long dormant longings to restore her started to stir and I thought, ‘This will be heavenly,’” Mulgrew said of her commanding character. ”I can now endow her with nuance that I didn’t do before because I will have the privacy and freedom of a recording booth and we can take it to unlimited places.’”

Mulgrew, who played the first female captain in the franchise, also said she loved the idea of being “the first children’s captain,” adding, “What on Earth could be better than that?”

“Star Trek: Prodigy” is the second animated series spearheaded by CBS this year, with “Star Trek: Lower Decks” — featuring Jerry O’Connell as a dopey Starfleet first officer — having premiered on All Access in August. Meanwhile, Season 3 of “Star Trek: Discovery,” starring Sonequa Martin-Green, kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 15.

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