Jeri Ryan was kind of drunk when she agreed to return to the role of Seven of Nine in ‘Star Trek: Picard’. As she recalled, addressing the audience at Star Trek Las Vegas 2019, at a function at the Hollywood Bowl, series co-creator James Duff pitched her on joining ‘Picard’, “After about four glasses of champagne.” Even though she liked what she heard, she wasn’t confident that it would really, happen. “I thought yeah, that sounds fun but, whatever.” Cut to over a year later and she found herself preparing to return to the role that jumpstarted her career… but with at least one major change.
“That was part of [Duff’s] pitch. There was no catsuit! Yeah!”
During the same panel, Jonathan Frakes explained that he was thrilled to be asked to direct a couple of episodes of ‘Picard’, but when it came to reprising the role of Commander William Riker, he was practically shaking in his space boots. Ryan confessed similar concerns but divulged that in addition to not wearing a catsuit, Seven of Nine has changed in many other ways, and those changes freaked Ryan out.
“I was freaking out. She was a very specific character for four years on Voyager. There was a lot of growth, and all of that. She went from being a machine to learning to be human. But, particularly the way she moved and her voice, that was what I was really hung up on. Her voice didn’t change that much in four years. So, she had a stilted, very formal, very stylized way of speaking, at the end of Voyager. So, when I got the initial script… she is not the same Seven. She is much more human. She’d been on Earth for a long time, she has been through a lot. So, when I saw that initial script and as you saw “What the hell are you doing out here?” It’s a very, very different voice. And that is what was freaking me out.”
Johnny Del Arco, a.k.a. Hugh the Borg, helped as he returned to work before her.
“So I was happy because Johnny [Del Arco] was working before I did and he said: ‘Once you get in costume, it helps.’ And it does. It informs the way the character moves and the way the character stands and that kind of thing. But, I was having a real hard time with her voice. I just couldn’t hear her in these lines. I couldn’t find it and it was really freaking me out to the point where my husband was like: ‘I have seen you get freaked out by a script, ever.’… I was bursting into tears: “I don’t know what her voice is! I can’t find her.” So, Johnny came over and we had lunch and read the script for like an hour and finally… he said: “Just try this, what if… she had to make the choice to be as human as possible, to survive, to sound as human and act as human as possible. Clearly, she is always going to look like a former Borg, because she has these implants that cant go away. So, what if she had to make that choice – a conscious choice – to sound as human as possible.’ And that’s all I needed. That’s what I needed! I just needed something for it to make sense as an actor as to why she would have that huge of a change. Then it made sense to me.”
Fans will surely be delighted when Ryan returns and, for the first time, shares the screen with Patrick Stewart‘s Picard. As Frakes stated encouragingly, “I asked Patrick what it was like working with Jeri, and he said: ‘She is marvelous, Johnny. She is so present.'”
‘Star Trek: Picard’ arrives on CBS All Access in 2020. Check back as more information as Star Trek Las Vegas takes place all weekend.
Source: Trek Movie