Genevieve Bujold was supposed to be the star of STAR TREK VOYAGER, but a week into shooting, she was fired…or she quit… and was replaced with Kate Mulgrew. I’ve always wondered why. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, the mystery is solved. You can see how uncomfortable she was in the role. Here is a scene with Bujold and then the same scene re-shot with Mulgrew (catch it now before it’s inevitably yanked).
Here is another scene with Bujold.
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This is interesting stuff — and these scenes are apparently culled from the recently released VOYAGER DVD set. But in all fairness to Bujold, do you think it’s just possible — JUST POSSIBLE — that Berman and Paramount deliberately picked the worst possible footage of her for the DVDs? After all, I understand that an entire show was shot before Bujold quit and a TV Guide critic called Bujold’s performance “ethereal.” And Bujold likewise announced that she didn’t want to play a “comic book character.”
I’m wondering if there’s more footage we don’t know about that shows Bujold injecting a more intellectual quality into a thankless one-dimensional role. And that these scenes possibly occurred later in the shoot, when Bujold was getting sick and tired of dealing with the brain-dead Trek producers wanting to dumb down her performance.
I’ve always wondered, too. Generally I’ve always liked Bujold. She does seem uncomfortable with the role and kind of comes off as if she’s not sure she understands all the technobabble that makes up 90% of Star Trek dialogue. Mulgrew, who I’ve liked since I saw her in Mrs. Colombo when I was about 10, always seemed to bring an edgy intelligence and compassion to the role.
And I hope I don’t sound like too much of a Trekkie here, but I’ve thought it was interesting that once you got away from the “explorer” backgrounds of Kirk and Archer, some of the captains got more interesting. Picard with his interest in anthropology and archaeology and diplomacy and Janeway with her engineering background. It’s a case of their backgrounds really informing the characters.
Bujold does look very uncomfortable in the role and also, she doesn’t project the air of authority the captain of a vessel should have.
Wow, that’s fun! Thanks for sharing. I think Bujold is a fine actress, but I confess that I grew attached to Mulgrew as Janeway. I don’t think the captain of a starship should be “ethereal.” Mulgrew gave her just enough of a badass attitude. I hadn’t seen Voyager since it originally aired and had forgotten a lot of stuff about the series. Seeing the episodes again on Spike is like seeing them for the first time.
Rick Berman on the change in command:
“In meeting her … she’s a very lovely lady … I immediately sensed this wasn’t a person who was the slightest bit ready to live through the drudgery of episodic television.” Berman said “It’s a vastly different world from features. So, I sat her down and said “I want to play a major devil’s advocate here to you.” I explained to her in painful detail what a nightmare episodic television is. Up at 5:00 A.M. on Mondays and Tuesdays, working till 1:00 A.M. on Thursdays and Fridays. Almost no rehearsal time. Instead of doing one or two pages of script a day like in features, she’d be doing seven or eight. Never knowing her directors, and working with them whether she liked them or not. I painted as dismal a picture as I could … even worse than it actually is. I sent her home to Malibu to talk with her children and to discuss it over the weekend. She called me first thing Monday morning and she said, “Reek, Reek, I have an answer for you. And the answer is Oui.” I asked Michael and Jeri to come over here and I said, “Well, she said ‘yes.’ Actually she said ‘oui,’ but she said yes.” And I still didn’t buy it. I still said this ain’t gonna work.”
Interestingly, the first thing that crossed my mind when I watched Bujold was, “THIS Janeway I can believe as a former science officer.” Her approach seems much more cerebral. Though I love Mulgrew, she was a bit of a bulldozer. Which is great, but I never got “science officer” from her.
There’s cerebral, and then there’s listless. In the footage shown, Bujold seemed like she could use a Redbull. (Or some tea. Earl Grey. Hot.)
I actually liked Bujold’s performance. She seemed to have a bit more humanity. But typical Star Trek over the top she was not, so I can see why she didn’t fit in.
And I have to say that the material failed Bujold — not the other way around. That first scene, in particular. It was all about techno b.s., rather than people, emotions. The only one in the scene who seemed truly concerned about what was going on was Bujold.
I think Mark nailed it: about a quarter of the average Trek script is [tech] (and yes, I know that’s a semi-urban-legend), and she just seemed to be tripping over it, to me.
I clearly remember needing a few episodes to warm up to Mulgrew. Looking back at these scenes, I doubt I ever would have warmed up to Bujold. Or perhaps a better explanation was that I doubted I could have suspended belief enough to allow her to be a captain. The commanders in StarFleet were military, or paramilitary at the least. To be a captain is to be taken at first word, unquestioned. Bujold didn’t seem to have the authority. When Mulgrew spoke, you knew she meant business. A bulldozer was needed. I think they made the right decision (whether it was Bujold or the powers that be.)