When Star Trek fans talk about the Borg Queen, they’re usually talking about the drone from the movie Star Trek: First Contact. In that movie, the voice of the Collective was brought to life by the incredible South African actress Alice Krige. She reprised the role for the final episode of Star Trek: Voyager and in a few Star Trek video games.
However, Krige is not the only actress to portray the Borg Queen. The character appeared in three other episodes of Voyager, “Dark Frontier,” “Unimatrix Zero” and “Unimatrix Zero: Part II.” In these episodes, the Borg Queen was brought to life by popular television actress named Susanna Thompson.
The Borg Queen Wasn’t Thompson’s First ‘Star Trek’ Role
When Thompson was just starting out as a television actress in the early 90s, one of her first roles was a guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the season five episode entitled “The Next Phase,” Thompson played the character Varel, one of the Romulans the crew encountered.
In the next season, Thompson was invited back for another role. She played Inmate Jaya in the season six episode “Frame of Mind.” Her character was one of the people in the mental institution where Commander William Riker was convinced he was being held against his will.
Thompson also made one appearance in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine before she became the Borg Queen. In the fourth season episode “Rejoined,” she played Lenara Kahn, the wife of one of Dax’s former hosts. To DS9 fans, she’s known for the famous kiss she gave Terry Farrell, who played Jadzia Dax.
Becoming the Borg Queen
In an interview about becoming the Borg Queen, which can be seen above, Thompson revealed that she’d actually been asked to read for the part of the Borg Queen in First Contact. However, the audition didn’t come across the way she’d intended. She said she’d struggled with playing a “disembodied” character. Thompson had tried to create the feeling of disembodiment with her movements in the audition, but it didn’t work the way she wanted. So, she didn’t end up getting that role.
However, when the producers wanted to bring the character back in Voyager, Krige wasn’t available. So, they called Thompson. At the time she wondered why they would ask her back for a part Krige had done so well. She surmised that it was because she had a “similar energy” to Krige. So, she went back in to read for the part. Thompson openly acknowledged that she tried to match the character Krige had created for First Contact in her audition, and apparently, it worked. She got the role.
Though Thompson knew she’d be putting her own spin on the Borg Queen, she said she was adamant about bringing some of Krige’s Borg Queen into her own portrayal. Thompson actually had an in-canon reason for this choice. She said that to her, it made sense that the previous Borg Queen would be a part of the new one in some way because of the collective consciousness that defines the Borg. So, she used the “blueprint” Krige had created and built her character off of that.
Thompson admitted that she wasn’t prepared for the rigors of playing the character. Her previous Star Trek roles hadn’t required much makeup or complicated costumes, but the Borg Queen required both, as well as contacts that literally had metal in them.
After her first day of filming, which she said was nearly 20 hours long, Thompson said she almost quit. However, she did come back to finish out the episode. She even said yes when they invited her to play the character again. Thompson emphasized that Jeri Ryan, who played former Borg drone Seven of Nine, gave her a lot of support.
Since Thompson’s appearance in the Star Trek universe, she’s become a popular television actress with numerous recurring roles on shows like Once and Again, Kings, Cold Case, NCIS, Timeless and, most recently, Arrow.