It seems that tensions were high in the latter seasons of Star Trek: Voyager and actress Jeri Ryan is finally opening up about the matter.
Ryan was a guest on Aisha Tyler’s Girl on Girl podcast. Though the podcast was released last year, her discussion of how her arrival in the fourth season of Star Trek: Voyager didn’t go over well with a certain member of the established cast has only just been brought to the attention of Star Trek fans.
Ryan recalled how UPN and Paramount were using the introduction of Seven of Nine to push Star Trek: Voyager and the Star Trek franchise into the mainstream. This diverted a lot of attention her way (via Trek Core):
“It was understandably tough for an existing cast that had been together for three years already. Star Trek, traditionally — because this was like the fourth incarnation of Star Trek at the time — was always the Captain, or the Captain and First Officer. Typically, it’s the Captain that gets the attention of the press, and the shows revolve around that.
So all of a sudden, all of that shifted drastically in Season Four and now the writers, who have been writing for the same seven characters for three years, are salivating for something new to write with. They’ve got this character that’s so rich because she’s not even human when they start out…
Consequently, all the scripts revolved around Seven of Nine and her relationship with the other characters, of course — which actually ended up leading to some really rich storylines for the other characters.
But that’s hard when the new kid comes in and suddenly it’s all about them. That was tough, and it was particularly tough for some more than others, which was not real fun. It really made it an unpleasant work experience.”
Ryan says that the unpleasantness went on for quite some time:
"It continued, for quite a while. I mean, for the most part, everybody was phenomenal and absolutely great — and the guys, my God, I loved my boys on that show. [Laughs] They were hilarious to the point that if I had a two-shot with and then it’s my close-up, I had to look off-camera because if I looked at them I’d just break and crack up.
But yeah, it was unnecessarily unpleasant for a couple of years — basically, until I started dating [showrunner Brannon Braga]. Once I was dating the boss, funny how things suddenly cleaned up!
[Laughs] But it was really, really tough the first couple of years. and there were many days when I was nauseous before going into work because it was that miserable. Just unnecessarily, intentionally unpleasant.”
Ryan also explained that, in an intimate workplace environment like a television set with regular cast, there’s little anyone can do to avoid someone who is holding a grudge and gave examples of the kinds of antics she’d have to deal with:
“There was nothing I COULD do — literally I would be nauseous when I knew these scenes were coming up. When there were a lot of scenes with this person the next day, I was sick to my stomach all night, just miserable. It was so unnecessary and just so petty; things like, oh my God…[Laughs]
We’d have scenes — because a lot of my scenes took place in this set they built for my character called the Astrometrics Lab. It was a really impressive-looking set with this huge, massive, curved green-screen and this giant window. So there’s only one entrance to the set, because all the cameras were built up on platforms and stuff to shoot the window — there was just one set of doors.
I remember this one time in particular, I had this once scene with this person, just the two of us. We do their coverage first, and shoot their side of this really dramatic scene, and then it was time for my coverage. Before every close-up, the hair and makeup and wardrobe teams come in and do touch-ups and everything to make sure everything’s right… [Laughs wildly]
[The co-star] shut the door to the set, and said, “She’s fine. LET’S GO.” Wouldn’t let them in. Just stupid, stupid stuff like that.
Another time, I don’t even think it was the same day, but a different scene with that person on the same set — we do their side first, and then it’s my coverage on close-up for this really intense scene. The literally sat off-camera picking their nails, thumbing through a book, and just haphazardly saying their lines off camera without even making eye contact.”
Ryan goes out of her way not to personally identify who it is she’s referring to, but given her descriptions and past interviews with other Star Trek: Voyager cast members, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that she’s referring to lead actress Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Kathryn Janeway.
Mulgrew recently made her own comments regarded Ryan’s arrival as part of the Star Trek: Voyager cast, noting how Seven of Nine’s existence seemed to go against Mulgrew’s own personal rules about sex and sexuality on the series.
In her comments, Mulgrew even seemed to reference some of the same tension that Ryan was telling Tyler about.
“That moment stands out for me when Jeri Ryan arrived. That was an interesting moment because – there’s been a lot of controversy about it generated by me – again unfortunate,” Mulgrew. “When you’re the first female captain you hope against hope that that’s going to be sufficient until the day it wasn’t. Because men like – as they should, as all of you should and I love and adore every one of you – they love sex. And they need it. And I said ‘No’ to all of that going in."