Star Trek Head Explains How Janeway's Return Happened

On Thursday, CBS and Nickelodeon announced that Star Trek: Voyager's Kate Mulgrew will reprise her role as Capt. Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Prodigy. Considering how skeptical Mulgrew seemed of the idea of returning as Janeway in past interviews, it's a pleasant surprise to see her back in the Star Trek universe in even a voice acting role. As a guest on The Hollywood Reporter's TV's Top 5 podcast, Star Trek television boss Alex Kurtzman explained how the idea to bring Janeway back came up. He says it all came down to Prodigy creators Kevin and Dan Hageman coming up with the perfect justification for Janeway's return.

"When you're looking at legacy characters, you have to have a very specific reason to bring them back," Kurtzman says. "Without revealing too many details, Kevin and Dan came in with a pitch that just blew the doors off the place. There was a really clear wonderful reason to bring Janeway into the story."

Kurtzman also touched on Prodigy's mission to bring Star Trek to younger viewers, something that hasn't been a big focus for the franchise in the past. "I think one of the things that Star Trek has not done as effectively over time is bring in new people, particularly much younger people, and I don't see any reason why that this amazing story that has existed for 55 years, that is so about everything that we are dealing with in our lives right now, cannot be shared and enjoyed by younger generations," he says.

Mulgrew took to social media to express her joy over returning to the Star Trek universe. "Janeway is back and I am thrilled!" she tweeted. "Can't wait to bring her to a whole new generation of fans. Who's ready to beam aboard #StarTrekProdigy with me?" She also retweeted Prodigy writer Julie Benson, adding, "Incredibly excited to have these stellar women writing for Janeway! I can't wait for fans to see these stories."

In the announcement of her return, Mulgrew said, "I have invested every scintilla of my being in Captain Janeway, and I can't wait to endow her with nuance that I never did before in Star Trek: Prodigy. How thrilling to be able to introduce to these young minds an idea that has elevated the world for decades. To be at the helm again is going to be deeply gratifying in a new way for me."

Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman said, "Captain Janeway was held to a different standard than her predecessors. She was asked to embody an inhuman level of perfection in order to be accepted as 'good enough' by the doubters, but showed them all what it means to be truly outstanding. We can think of no better captain to inspire the next generation of dreamers on Nickelodeon, than she."

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"Kate's portrayal of Captain Janeway is truly iconic, and has resonated with a global audience for many years," said Ramsey Naito, President, Nickelodeon Animation. "We can't wait to see her bring this character to life in a whole new way, while continuing to be an inspiration for both new and loyal fans."

Star Trek: Prodigy debuts on Nickelodeon in 2021.