Star Trek: Voyager has a mixed reception among Star Trek fans. Just about every aspect of the show doesn’t sit right with some fans or others. The character writing seemed very inconsistent to some fans. Captain Kathryn Janeway herself flitted between warmth and callousness depending on who was writing her and what they thought she should be like. Certain characters like Neelix didn’t get the fan reaction the writers hoped for, while others like Seven of Nine and the Doctor stole the show a little too much.
Voyager was notoriously uneven in developing its main characters. Harry Kim acted as an audience surrogate but he never achieved a rank higher than Ensign and took pitfalls almost as frequently as actual Redshirts. Plenty of interesting minor crew members appeared on the show only to eventually be written off or never seen again. These include Lon Suder or Naomi Wildman.
As it turns out, fans aren’t the only ones who have their complaints when it comes to how Voyager handled its characters. For the most part, the actors themselves seem satisfied with the show and their roles, based on interviews from plenty of media outlets. However, there are a fair number of actors who have expressed their dissatisfaction with how their character turned out or how working on Voyager was like. Voyager and its crew may have made it home after seven years in the Delta Quadrant, but for some, the journey may not have been worth it.
Here are the 5 Actors Who Regretted Being On Voyager (And 15 Who Adored It)!
By design, first officers on Star Trek shows are not meant to overshadow the captains. However, Robert Beltran’s Commander Chakotay is among the least memorable or interesting first officers in the franchise. Beltran himself has expressed similar complaints about how his character was written.
Talking to StarTrek.com in 2012, Beltran expressed his regret that Chakotay’s relationships with the other series regulars weren’t evenly or fully explored. “…After Seska left, it was only that relationship with the captain that had depth to it. Chakotay and Tuvok didn’t have much. Chakotay and Paris didn’t have much,” he said. After Jeri Ryan joined the show as Seven of Nine, Beltran felt that the writers didn’t listen to his requests to develop Chakotay as much any more.
As the first female starship captain in a Star Trek main series, Kate Mulgrew’s Captain Janeway had a lot riding on her. Star Trek may take place in the futuristic egalitarian Federation, but the character needed to resonate with viewers of multiple demographics despite possibly undue expectations.
Mulgrew is conscious of the precedent and expectations that her character carried. In 2011, she interviewed with StarTrek.com about the job and the significance of playing Janeway. “…It was time in the history of television and in the history of the world," she said. "And I must say, I am proud, enormously proud. It was hard work. Nobody sees how hard that work was.” Mulgrew says that the late nights memorizing lines and learning her character, all while raising two kids as a single parent, was worth it.
Brad Dourif played crewman Lon Suder in the earlier seasons of Star Trek: Voyager. The troubled sociopathic Betazoid only guest starred in three episodes, but he made a profound impact on Voyager’s crew. He formed a deep connection with Tuvok and sacrificed his life to help the crew get Voyager back from Kazon thieves.
Dourif discusses how much he enjoyed playing the part in an interview with StarTrek.com in 2018. When asked about working with the Voyager regulars he said, “Kate was wonderful. I had a great time with her. Tim… we went diving and did all kinds of stuff together… He's just a really good dude, yeah. My girlfriend was there when I did the mind meld scene with Tim, and it was great fun to have her there.”
Sarah Silverman is one of the biggest names in comedy today. However, all big names have to start somewhere. In one of her earliest on screen roles, she guest starred on Star Trek: Voyager as a late 20th century astronomer who encounters Voyager when they are sent back in time. Being on a sci-fi TV show, there were elements that her acting training hadn’t specifically prepared her for.
In a 2015 interview with the A.V. Club, Silverman discussed going to a fancy acting to coach to learn about pretending to run from lasers. “And I remember him looking at the material and just going, 'Look, sometimes when you’re running from lasers, you just gotta pretend you’re running from lasers.' And I thought, yeah, okay, right. Like, you gave me license to just pretend,” Silverman said.
Garret Wang played Ensign Harry Kim on Star Trek: Voyager. His character always had enormous deference for the more senior crew members, especially Captain Janeway. Behind the scenes, during and after the show ran, Garret has been very outspoken about what he enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about working on Voyager.
Wang told StarTrek.com in a 2011 interview that he felt he got snubbed on multiple counts because he was so outspoken. Harry Kim was notoriously never promoted in the show’s run. “I was the first actor in Star Trek history to be denied the chance to direct," Wang said. "I was the only one who wanted to direct Trek and make it the best it could be, drawing upon my knowledge and experiences as a lifelong fan of science fiction.”
Manu Intiraymi played Icheb on Star Trek: Voyager, an adolescent Borg drone liberated from the collective by Seven of Nine and the Yoager crew. Just as Icheb was mentored by the Voyager crew, the young actor Intiraymi learned a great deal from the cast and crew of the show.
“A lot of times when you come on to a show as a guest star or a recurring character, the cast will treat you like 'oh, you might take time away from me.' This has happened to me. You are only going to be there for a couple of weeks so they don’t even talk to you. It is this competitive actor weirdness and it sucks," Intiraymi said. "On Voyager, there wasn’t anyone on that cast who didn’t take care of me.”
Robert Duncan McNeill’s Tom Paris grew considerably among all the Star Trek: Voyager regulars. He started out as reckless and irreverent, but he developed a deep relationship with B’Elanna Torres, fraught with troubles and disagreements. By the end of the show, the two had started a family.
McNeill interviewed with StarTrek.com in 2010 about the direction his career had gone since Voyager and how he’s still on such good terms with most of the cast. “One thing that was never crystal clear from our episodes is all the fun we had as a cast between the shots," he said. "We really got along as any cast I’ve ever seen…We make each other laugh.” McNeill also enjoyed getting the chance to direct several Voyager episodes.
Naomi Wildman was born on Voyager after it was stranded in the Delta Quadrant. The starship was her childhood home, offering her many opportunities to learn and grow. The young actress Scarlett Pomers played Naomi Wildman. She continued her career as a TV actress and as a musician.
In 2007 she appeared at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention. She spoke about how much she enjoyed working on Star Trek: Voyager, especially with Jeri Ryan and Ethan Phillips. According to her, she was always amused by how long Phillips had to sit in the makeup chair for his character. Pomers, by comparison just took five minutes to get her four little horns glued on and painted.
Susanna Thompson was the second actress to play the Born Queen in Star Trek. Alice Krige played the Borg Queen first in Star Trek: First Contact the movie, but Thompson played the part on three episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.
However, the process of physically playing the part was grueling. In the Voyager season 5 DVD special features, Thompson described her first time in costume. "The first night after my first day of filming, which was, I think, twenty hours, I cried myself to sleep," said Thompson. "And said I didn't care how much money they paid me, I wouldn't do it again! But I came back and I finished out that episode and then indeed I did come back again for Unimatrix One."
Marina Sirtis was already a veteran of one main Star Trek show. She starred as Counselor Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation and reprised the role to guest star on Star Trek: Voyager.
When the production crew of Voyager approached her about playing her Star Trek character again, Sirtis was initially hesitant. She told a panel of guests at Super Megafest 2014 that she turned the opportunity down at first. Then they called her back a few months later and told her that she would be working with Dwight Schultz, who played Lieutenant Reginald Barclay, also on Star Trek: The Next Generation. This convinced Sirtis to appear as Deanna Troi on Voyager.
Neelix was a resident of the Delta Quadrant who made a home for himself aboard Voayger and a family of its crew. Even though his appearances were sporadic for a series regular, he received plenty of episodes to grow as a character and develop relationships with the other Voyager crewmates.
Actor Ethan Phillips shared his thoughts on the character in an interview with The Morton Report in 2011. The altruism, empathy, and compassion of Neelix is something Phillips strives for in his own life. “I would’ve liked to have, perhaps, developed more of an outlandish sense of humor with Neelix," he said. "but having said that, I feel that he’s a fine addition to the pantheon of Star Trek.”
Jennifer Lien played Kes on Star Trek: Voyager. Kes was the Ocampa young woman who joined the crew of Voyager for a chance to explore the galaxy. Eventually, her mental powers became so advanced that she grew beyond the simple constraints of her corporeal form.
Lien attended a Star Trek convention panel in Las Vegas in 2010 where she expressed her satisfaction with playing the part. “I had a good time. It went on after I left and continued, but my time was great. I have no complaints. I have no regrets," said Lien. "Everything worked out the way it should have. Everything happens for a reason… I’m perfectly at peace and content with my life. I don’t live in the past and I don’t wish anything were different.”
Robert Picardo’s early experience of Star Trek: Voyager was soured by production upheavals and disappointments. At first, he auditioned for the role of Neelix, but obviously the character went to Ethan Philips instead. When the producers called him back about playing the holographic doctor, Picardo felt a little let down.
“I remember, when I first got the role, I was telling everybody, 'I got the new Star Trek pilot. I’m sure it’ll run. I’m sure it’ll put my kids through college. But I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got the worst part on the show.' That was an irony that I’ve lived with ever since," said Picardo. "I thought I’d gotten the dull role in the show and that made the experience so much fun for me.” There’s no question that the Doctor’s character and popularity grew throughout Voyager’s run.
Martha Hackett’s Seska was a very personal early antagonist for the crew of Voyager. There was the usual tension of her coming from the Maquis crew, but her real nefarious deeds were entirely self-centered. She betrayed the Voyager crew to ally herself with the Kazon-Nistrim.
According to Hackett, the ultimate direction of Seska’s character was up in the air until very late in the writing. However, she was ultimately satisfied with the part. "The writers used what I thought were some clever plot machinations to develop Seska," she said. "When a character is well-written and has a lot of layers or depth, it makes it far more interesting to play and fun as well. I got to take Seska in so many different directions. I even made her a little bit crazy.”
Majel Barret has become such a big part of the Star Trek franchise. She married Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and played Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Since Next Generation, Barrett has voiced the Federation computer in almost every show and licensed Star Trek property.
Barrett always seemed to enjoy participating in the Star Trek franchise. In an interview at the Star Trek: Voyager wrap party, Barret expressed her confidence that Roddenberry would have been pleased with how Voyager turned out. She said Roddenberry knew that Star Trek would have to keep evolving and that Voyager carried on that tradition well. For her part, Barrett joked that “for 37 years, it’s a hell of a job!"
Tim Russ actually auditioned for the role of Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation before he eventually got the role of Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager. Russ said that he was glad things worked out that way. In a 2018 interview with TrekMovie.com, he said that he much preferred the role of Tuvok because the role felt more organic and the dialogue felt more natural to him.
Russ also said he was pleased with the overall arc of Tuvok’s story on the show: “The character was a father, he had a wife and children. We explored all those kinds of things, as we should to flesh out the character. I was very happy with it.”
Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine was undoubtedly one of the most sensational character additions to any Star Trek show. Her character represented a new kind of exploration of humanity and became incredibly popular.
Unfortunately, Seven of Nine’s introduction half way into the show’s lifespan caused a bit of tension among the cast. Jeri Ryan talked about her mixed experiences on Voyager in a 2006 podcast with Aisha Tyler. Ryan never specifically said in the podcast, but rumors have persisted for years that she and Kate Mulgrew didn’t get along. “There was nothing I could do — literally I would be nauseous when I knew these scenes were coming up. When there were a lot of scenes with this person the next day, I was sick to my stomach all night, just miserable. It was so unnecessary and just so petty,” she said.
Jonathan Frakes is one Star Trek actor who managed to grow in multiple professions through his involvement in the franchise. He played Commander Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation and in the four Star Trek movies to feature that crew. Riker’s popularity even allowed him a guest appearance on Voyager in the episode “Death Wish”.
However, he also became an accomplished director through opportunities afforded by Star Trek. He directed eight episodes of Next Generation, three episodes of Voyager and First Contact and Insurrection. According to Frakes, his experience as an actor lent itself to his directing prowess. “Having been an actor, I think I can communicate well with actors. And I think I can manage time well,” Frakes told StarTrek.com in a 2010 interview.
George Takei has channeled his popularity from Star Trek as few other actors on from the franchise have done. He’s a compassionate, witty, outspoken activist on many contemporary issues, including the personal issues of LGBTQ equality. His role in the original Star Trek series certainly helped inspire his activism.
Many years later, the production crew of Star Trek: Voyager devised a way to have Takei reprise his role in the episode “Flashback”. Takei spoke of how impressed he was with the premise in the Voyager Season 3 DVD commentary. "I thought… they did an absolutely wonderful job of bridging the generations, of making Captain Sulu, Tuvok, and Janeway all organic parts of the same episode," he said.
B’Elanna Torres is a bit of a controversial character among Star Trek fans. They either seem to like her a lot or can’t stand her at all. Ironically ,this is pretty much in line with her character on the show, as other Voyager crew members get along with her better than others.
Actress Roxanne Dawson seems satisfied with her role at any rate. In 2011, she told TrekMovie.com in an interview that she has fond memories of her character and of working on Voyager. “If you look at her, from her first episode through all her transitions, internally, as a couple with Tom, as a member of the crew, it was great," Dawson said. "She grew, she changed. [B'Elanna] wasn’t perfect. She failed and recovered… I think she continued to change and grow through all seven seasons.”
Can you think of any other actors who regretted or adored their roles on Star Trek: Voyager? Sound off in the comments!