How Star Trek: Nemesis Pulled off a Major Character Cameo

"Admiral Janeway, how good to see you again." Kate Mulgrew tells us what it was like filming her big surprise cameo in Star Trek: Nemesis.

One of the highlights of the current era of Star Trek is the return of Kate Mulgrew to the role of Admiral Kathryn Janeway, who fans first met as the captain of the USS Voyager in the series of the same name. During Voyager‘s original run from 1995 to 2001, Janeway led the stranded Intrepid-class starship through a hostile Delta Quadrant full of Borg, and when she finally got her crew back home safe, the captain was promoted to vice admiral by Starfleet.

Longtime Star Trek fans may remember that Admiral Janeway’s promotion was first revealed on the big screen, just a year after Voyager aired its final episode on UPN. In 2002, the fan-favorite character finally made the jump to theaters with a surprise cameo in Star Trek: Nemesis, the final movie starring the cast of The Next Generation. In fact, it’s Admiral Janeway sending Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise on that fateful diplomatic mission to the Romulan Empire that truly kicks off the events of the divisive film.

The cameo is less than a minute long, and Mulgrew doesn’t actually appear in the flesh in the scene but on a video call patched into Picard’s ready room. Yet, it still pushed Janeway’s story forward in a major way, giving her a new role in the Star Trek universe that’s finally being explored further on the Prodigy animated series.

While speaking to Den of Geek about Drew Finch, her enigmatic CIA agent in Showtime’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, Mulgrew also reveals what it was like filming her Nemesis scene.

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“That was a strange cameo,” Mulgrew says. “I was just alone in the studio on the sound stage. It was done very fast. I think it was immediately after Voyager, if not in the final week of Voyager.”

Voyager‘s two-part series finale, “Endgame,” aired on May 23, 2001, with Nemesis kicking off principal photography in November of that year, meaning Mulgrew filmed her cameo months before the rest of the film’s cast shot their scenes.

Almost 20 years after the release of Nemesis, Mulgrew finally returned to the Star Trek universe in 2021 to voice her character Prodigy. Mulgrew talks about what it’s like being back after all this time.

“It’s fun. It just never ends,” Mulgrew says. “I think Star Trek is enjoying a grand resurgence. I have to tip my hat to [Star Trek creative head Alex] Kurtzman because he’s assumed the mantle. He took it from [longtime Star Trek executive producer] Rick Berman and he’s done an amazing job. I think he’s a visionary.”

While Mulgrew says she’s really enjoying this new era of Janeway stories, she wasn’t always so sure she should come back for Prodigy.

“At first I was a little trepidatious,” Mulgrew reveals. “But only very briefly. When I checked with my trusted colleagues, everybody said, well you’re absolutely a fool! This is going to be great. It’s for children — the one demographic that Star Trek has somehow managed to avoid.”

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The actor calls working on the animated series “deeply satisfying” because it’s specifically aimed at a new, younger generation of viewers. “To be able to do it and give it to children who are sitting next to their mothers who watched Star Trek: Voyager. It really speaks to the grandness and truth and magnitude of Star Trek.”

But voicing a character is one thing. Does Mulgrew think she’ll ever play Janeway in live action again? She recently teased as much, and tells Den of Geek that she’s already talked about it with some of her Voyager colleagues.

“We’re always talking. I mean my great friends are Robert Picardo and John de Lancie. We’re always touching down and crossing paths. And when we do talk about Star Trek, all of us are just so amazed that it constantly is reinventing itself. I think that fact only speaks to its sort of undying virtues. I know Jeri [Ryan] loves doing Picard. And I know that all of us — all of us — would love to continue and when the opportunity presents itself, we’ll always do more Star Trek.”

You can read more from our interview with Mulgrew here.

Ryan Britt contributed reporting for this piece.