HOW SUSAN GIBNEY ALMOST PLAYED CAPTAIN JANEWAY
The face of Captain Kathryn Janeway that we know and love may not have belonged to Kate Mulgrew, but Susan Gibney. She had guest-starred in [TNG: Booby Trap] and [TNG: Galaxy's Child] as Dr Leah Brahms (both as her hologram and the real Brahms), the woman who had designed the Galaxy-class starship USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D. (Beam to The Starships Called Enterprise And Their Respective Starship Classes.) Her character interacted a lot with the Enterprise-D's chief engineer, Geordi La Forge (who appears briefly in the eventually unrealised timeline depicted in [#100 Timeless], commanding his own ship, a Galaxy-class starship called USS Challenger).
Gibney also appears in [DS9] after a major disappointment - failing to get the role of Captain Kathryn Janeway.
Upon carrying out the auditions, two captain candidates emerged whom all three executive producers (Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor) had good feelings about. One was Susan Gibney, whom Berman was particularly fond of.
Rick Berman: "She's a marvelous actress. She had guest starred for us in [TNG] and did great work. We've used her with great success in [DS9], as well."
Berman felt so strongly about Susan Gibney that he put her in make-up and a Starfleet uniform and on 10th August 1994 filmed her on the bridge set, in a scene with Tim Russ as Tuvok and Roxann Dawson as Torres. But it did not convince the studio. Kerry McCluggage and Tom Mazza, Berman's bosses, rejected both Gibney and the second actress. Gibney was good, they agreed, but they believed she was too young for the role. So the producers had to go back to square one and start the whole process all over again. It was about this time that Kate Mulgrew came in to read for the role.
Susan Gibney speaks:
When I went in the first time they were still debating whether the captain was going to be a man or a woman; they were very worried about having a female captain. Then I was brought in the second time, and they felt that I was too young to be a starship captain; that was when they went with Geneviève Bujold. That did not work out, and I came back and tested again; it was an actual screen test, where they brought in the entire crew and the characters that had been cast already. They did four different costumes for me, and four different hair and make-up styles, and they filmed for an entire day, doing all of the scenes that were in the pilot episode. Doing something as extensive as that, which involves a lot of money and people and time, was really unusual, and then I didn't get it. That was really disappointing.
Shortly after that they brought me in for the two episodes on [DS9]. I was surprised, especially because Leah was so recognisable, that I was considered for the captain of [Voyager] and then again for Benteen. With Star Trek, people can play an alien and there'll be so much make-up that they can come back as another one because they're not physically recognisable, but I've played two human characters. I guess because it was a different show they felt they could get away with it., I read for the Borg Queen (for [Star Trek VIII: First Contact] - that was a terrific movie. (The role of Borg Queen in that film was played by Alice Krige, who reprised the role in [#171 and #172 Endgame].) I was also up for Jeri Ryan's role, Seven of Nine - I tested twice for that. I definitely can't compete! Unbelievable. Besides being a beautiful woman and very shapely, she obviously has the talent. And of course Kate Mulgrew has an incredible resumé - a capable and powerful woman. So I can't complain and actually I don't know if I can say I've had really good luck or really bad luck; at any rate my relationship with Star Trek has been ongoing. Every time something pops up, they try to squeeze me in.
...Star Trek was definitely a part of growing up. And I had a tribble and all that good stuff. I definitely looked up to Spock - of course everybody loved Kirk, but there's somethng about Spock; maybe it's because I was from such a crazy, loud family, but he was always so wise and gentle and calming. I was only a sporadic watcher of [TNG], but because I'd auditioned for it I was more inclined to watch it and see what was going on. But I couldn't watch [Voyager] for a while! I did tune in to the pilot, but I wouldn't watch it with anybody - I looked at it by myself.
Susan Gibney's words are excerpts from an ST:M interview
See also: BEHIND-THE-SCENES: The first captain (Geneviève) Bujold
Thanks to Joe Cilinceon for the title's picture frame. About the title image's screenshot.
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