Many "Star Trek" fans consider "Star Trek: Voyager" to be one of the lesser series in the franchise, paling in comparison to the original or to the fan favorite "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Four years into the series, perhaps in an attempt to "sexualize" the show, the relatively unknown Jeri Ryan was cast on "Voyager" as the emotionless, yet sexy Borg, Seven of Nine.
The move was a successful one, and fans enjoyed watching Seven grow from a robotic assimilator into a human being. In fact, her storyline was the most comprehensive and in-depth of all the characters. Her skintight outfit probably helped, too. Set to appear at Toronto's Comic Con, Ryan spoke with HuffPost TV about that outfit, the alleged animosity between her and co-star Kate Mulgrew and why she signed on to "Voyager" in the first place.
Do you still look back fondly on your "Star Trek" days?
I do. Some parts more than others, but yeah, she was a great character to play. As an actor, that's really a gift. She had a huge development arc -- she didn't even start out human! [Laughs.] That's a lot of growth over four years.
Do you ever catch an episode of "Voyager" these days? And if you do, what are your thoughts about yourself back then?
I haven't seen an episode in years, actually, and I usually only see snippets or pictures. It's kind of funny because it feels so long ago. Oddly, in a way, it also feels like yesterday.
Do you miss Seven's suit at all?
[Laughs.] You can probably gauge from the long bout of laughter that no, I don't really miss it.
I read that there was a corset under there.
Oh yeah. Apparently they don't wear bras and underwear in space. It was a very elaborate undergarment. I have to say that Robert Blackman, the costume designer, is an absolute genius. That costume was a real feat in engineering, because the producers had said that they wanted it to look like skin, to be skin-regenerative fabric. For the breast mound, they wanted two individual breasts and they wanted it to hug every curve, like skin.
Sorry, the breast mound?
[Laughs.] Yep, that's what they called it. The fabric naturally stretches from high point to high point, right? So he had to devise this construction, this corset. It also added to the mechanical non-human look of Seven.
That's amazing. It looks completely seamless on screen.
It was an event. If I had to go to the bathroom it was a 20-minute production shutdown. It's true, no joke. The whole crew had to know about it, too. "10-1, everybody take five, take 10, take whatever. Jeri has to use the bathroom." People had to get me dressed and undressed, so I had a full-time dresser. I couldn't do it myself.
Is it possible for you to pinpoint your favorite Seven moment?
I don't have a favorite moment specifically, but some of my favorite episodes are when Seven was really starting to explore her humanity. Like when The Doctor was teaching her to date -- I thought that was a really lovely episode. Those episodes weren't just the "haughty Borg looking down on humanity" theme. She was more interested in learning about humans.
At an event a couple years back, Kate Mulgrew mentioned that there might have been some animosity between the two of you. Is that true at all?
[Laughs.] It was not a super-easy four years for me, I will say that. It does not stick out as a wonderful, wonderful work experience. It was tough. It was difficult.
One of the bright parts of "Voyager" was definitely the three strong female characters.
Yeah, that was great. B'Elanna Torres was very strong and got to kick ass and take charge. I say the same thing now as I said then: I don't have a problem with Seven's overtly sexual physical appearance, if only because of the way she was written and developed. If it was a crappy character, then OK. But she was so nuanced and beautifully written.
The majority of "Star Trek" actors tend to be known for that role and not much else. Was that a fear of yours going in? You seem to be a bit of an anomaly, since you haven't had much trouble getting other roles.
That was a huge concern for me when I signed on initially. My agent came to me three times with this role, and I kept passing. I kept saying, "Absolutely not!" I wasn't a "Star Trek" fan. I never watched it. All I knew was that the actors are pigeonholed and that's all they do. It was so early in my career I didn't want to kill it.
What really got me to do it was one particular audition scene. Well, there were two. One which I absolutely hate, which was the infamous "Harry Kim, take off all your clothes" scene, which, of course, they shot and used. The other one, which they didn't shoot, was so beautiful. It was Seven and she was with Chakotay, and she has her first experience of laughter. In that scene, I really saw the possibilities of the character. That's what got me to do it. I've been lucky, though. Immediately afterwards, I was on "Boston Public," and I just kept going from there.
Do you still have fun when you go to comic conventions?
Yeah, I definitely do. I used to not be able to attend conventions because I had stalkers. Finally, the conventions agreed to get security for me, and they're really on top of it. It's nice that I can see the fans and interact with them again. They're such a nice, supportive audience, and they're very enthusiastic.
Jeri Ryan will be appearing at Toronto Comic Con on April 14.