William Shatner is ‘my captain’ for millions of “Star Trek” fans of a certain age.’ Same for Patrick Stewart, who often reigns supreme for Generation X fans who grew up watching Picard on “The Next Generation.” Avery Brooks, too has a loyal fanbase, who consider Sisko to be ‘my captain.’
For many fans of “Star Trek: Voyager,” Captain Kathryn Janeway is their captain, but for the female members of this audience, she’s even more significant. In 2015, Trek fan Joan Schmelz wrote of her motivations to pursue a job in astronomy.
“I found that my only role models were my own research supervisors, all men,” Schmelz wrote for Women in Astronomy. “Some were great, others were awful, but none were women. Enter Captain Kathryn Janeway. ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ made its debut on January 16, 1995, and I was glued to the television set.”
“I remembered how much I admired Captain Janeway,” Schmelz wrote. “A special thanks to actress Kate Mulgrew for creating a character who could not only serve as my role model in 1995 but who can still draw me back to episode after episode in 2015.”
Schmelz is not alone in crediting Mulgrew’s presence as an inspiration to her — read the thoughts of other young women who cite Janeway in motivating them to work in the sciences.
But would this connection have happened for the young women who started watching back in 1995 had Janeway been played by a different actress? Fans today take it for granted that Mulgrew is Janeway, and there is simply nothing to argue about.
In fact, she is among a handful of main characters to make the jump from one series to another. This list includes Michael Dorn (Worf), Patrick Stewart (Picard), and Kate Mulgrew. Janeway will be an essential part of the upcoming “Star Trek: Prodigy” series, which will begin airing on October 28 on the Paramount+ streaming service.
By all accounts, Mulgrew as Janeway was (and is) a successful actor/character pairing and was great for representing the franchise. Except for that brief period when Mulgrew nearly did not return for the seventh and final season of “Voyager.”
The following are some of the others who were considered to play Janeway before Geneviève Bujold got the part (and quit). She was ultimately replaced by Mulgrew.
Actress Karen Austin is remembered for her role on the NBC sitcom “Night Court” and was very busy through the late 1970s until around 2015, according to IMDB. Memory Alpha reports that Austin was considered for the part of Janeway. She was not offered the role. She appeared on the “Voyager” episode “Barge Of The Dead” as Miral, Lt. B’Elanna Torres’ mother.
Thanks to author James Egan and his book, “1000 Facts about TV Shows Vol. 2,” fans might be interested to learn that Lynda Carter was among those who were considered for Janeway. For anyone alive in the 1970s, Carter ‘is’ the superhero “Wonder Woman.”
From 1975 to ’79, Carter played Wonder Woman on the hit ABC show. Since then, she’s been in many other films and shows, but just how Shatner is forever connected to Captain Kirk, she cannot escape from Wonder Woman. She even appeared in the recent “Wonder Woman 1984” with Chris Pine.
While she obviously did not get the part of Janeway, this has not stopped fans from creating ‘cosplay art’ with Carter in Starfleet uniforms. Carter also exchanged Tweets with Shatner regarding his real-life space mission.
According to Memory Alpha, Golden Globe winner Joanna Cassidy was considered for the part. Science fiction fans might recognize her for her role on the original “Blade Runner,” which debuted in 1982. Cassidy was the snake-handling Zhora. Like Austin, Cassidy eventually found her way to “Star Trek,” as she starred as T’Pol’s mother in two episodes of “Star Trek: Enterprise.”
Actress Lindsay Crouse is known to audiences for her role in “All the President’s Men” and as Professor Maggie Walsh on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Memory Alpha says that she was also considered for the role of Janeway.
Folks might recognize Danner from her part on Ben Stiller’s “Fockers” trilogy of comedies. Memory Alpha reports that she, too, was in the running but did not make the cut. Today she’s still active, but her most famous ‘role’ might be the mother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
This would have been like casting a massive star like Charlton Heston as Picard. Patty Duke, an Academy Award-winning actress and star of her own show in the 1960s, was a household name for decades. Thanks to Memory Alpha, fans know that she too was among those considered to play Janeway.
Gibney was a known commodity for fans, as she had appeared in multiple “Star Trek” roles. Memory Alpha speculated that Gibney was too young for the part of Janeway, even though Trek boss Rick Berman liked her for the part. She also tried out for Seven of Nine and the Borg Queen.
Known for her role as Wilma Deering on the series “Buck Rogers,” Gray was considered but not ultimately chosen. She would have likely become used to working on “Star Trek,” thanks to her time on her own science fiction show, which lasted from 1979 to 1981. Gray was also in a proposed Buck Rogers fan-reboot, according to Memory Alpha.
Thanks to Memory Alpha, fans know that Linda Hamilton was one actress thought of to become Janeway. Back then, she was just coming off the massive success of “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” She also starred in the first “Terminator” and was part of the successful “Beauty and the Beast” fantasy show on CBS.
Just imagine if Captain Janeway was actually one of “Charlie’s Angels.” This could have happened, according to Memory Alpha. To be clear, Jackson was one of the stars of the 1970s series “Charlie’s Angels,” not the rebooted films. Jackson also starred on the 1980s show “Scarecrow and Mrs. King,” with Bruce Boxleitner, who fans will recognize from “Babylon 5.”
Actress Patsy Kensit was yet another actress considered for the role, according to Memory Alpha. The English actress is famous for her roles in “Lethal Weapon 2” and the BBC medical drama “Holby City.”
Another star from the 70s, Lindsay Wagner, was known to many as “The Bionic Woman,” a spin-off of the popular “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Wagner is still hard at work and recently appeared in a series of “Grey’s Anatomy” shows.