Never mind commanding the bridge on USS Voyager or the galley in Litchfield Penitentiary – Kate Mulgrew’s greatest journey is her own. Engage!
When GT gets on the phone to Kate Mulgrew’s New York home, there’s possibly only one thing more exciting than hearing the familiar tones of our favourite Starfleet captain.
“I was just reading the first episode script when you called and I’m delighted to return,” she says, confirming her appearance as Galina ‘Red’ Reznikov in the fourth series of Orange Is the New Black. There may’ve been a squeal on our end of the line, followed by laughter on hers. But we’re time-travelling slightly, with not a wormhole in sight. We’re actually here to talk about series three of Netflix’s incredibly popular women’s prison drama – which you’ve probably binge-watched already and seen Red finally returned to her beloved kitchen. “But the unexpected awaits as it always does at the pen of Jenji Kohan, who is brilliant. So, just when you think you’re on top, something slips. There’ll be a trap door effect. But I’m not going to give you spoilers because we were warned that we’d be beheaded if we do that,” she jokes.
And of the fourth series, which is filming right now? “I hope that there’s going to be a few more seasons. It’s going to be quite interesting I think this year, the sky’s the limit and Jenji is feeling, I think, that she can use her witchcraft in any which way she likes, so there’ll be the introduction of new characters, I’m sure that comes as no surprise. And those of us who are of the ‘old guard’ will have to fight, I think, in new and quite unorthodox ways to protect our respective positions.”
Filming the series near her New York residence works perfectly for the actress.
“It’s terrific because they just pick me up and I go right out to the studio in Queens. It has that flavour, it has that stamp on it that this is a New York production. These actresses have been culled from the very bowels of New York and it shows. These are not faces that are Hollywood faces are they? Nor types that are Hollywood types, they’re endemic to New York, the seasoning of New York, the hardships of New York and the flavours.”
There’s also a certain something about women in prison dramas that resonates particularly strongly with a gay male audience.
“Why?” she asks immediately. “You tell me, because I’m not a gay man.”
We tell her that she’s just ruining it, saying things like that and she howls with laughter. “Oh, I hate to let you down, but why is it? I know that that’s true, but nobody’s ever really articulated why…”