Kate Mulgrew’s Best Sci-fi Role Yet Isn’t in Star Trek

Ahead of the finale of The Man Who Fell to Earth on Showtime, we caught up with Kate Mulgrew and talked about how she created Drew Finch, her unique partnership with Jimmi Simpson, why she thinks executive producer Alex Kurtzman is a visionary, why Star Trek endures…and…what it was like to film that Admiral Janeway Nemesis cameo 20 years ago.

You’re great and terrifying in The Man Who Fell to Earth. Drew feels like a new kind of character for you. Neither a hero nor villain. How do you see her? 

Aside from her adopted son in the form of Jimmi Simpson, I think that Drew is a woman whose emotions run to the ambitious. She’s seldom lost at her game. She can be ruthless as we see at the very beginning of the season. She conversely can be curiously warm with Spencer Clay. But that is largely due to the chemistry that Jimmi Simpson and I share. It’s very rare and remarkable. We tried to add a darker dimension. Which I think we succeeded in doing. We never really know where they stand in their love for one another. Like what is it? Is it familial? I think that tension is fascinating. 

How much of this flippant relationship was in the script or an invention between you and Jimmi? 

I think it was very much our own little invention. But, thanks to Alex Kurtzman — who is the visionary behind the entire project — I think he hired key actors with the idea that they would know where to go. So, I had an outline for Drew. It was clear where she was to go. Her objective was pretty clear. But the underbelly, or so Kurtzman said, was pretty much up to me.I think that people in the CIA are dark. They are shadowy figures. That’s who she is, nothing but shadow and light. And, if the character ever flattened for any reason, then I’ve made a mistake, because that prism should be refracting light at every turn.  

So your chemistry with Jimmi Simpson basically created that aspect of the show? 

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