Close to two decades after leaving behind the astrometics lab of Star Trek: Voyager, Jeri Ryan returned to the role for season 1 of Star Trek: Picard. The long-awaited season 2 of the series premiered this month, with Ryan’s Seven, Patrick Stewart‘s Jean-Luc Picard, and the rest of the heroes embarking on a journey across time. According to Ryan, playing Seven is proving an incredibly rewarding experience and, in at least one way, a much better one than working on Voyager — it gives her the opportunity to work with a lot more women, including one very fitting director.
Jeri Ryan opened up about it on an episode of The Talk this week. After Ryan talked about the time travel element of the series, The Talk co-host Akbar Gbajabiamila pointed out that two of the episodes that take place in 2024 — “Assimilation” and “Watcher” — were directed by Lea Thompson of Back to the Future fame. Spinning out of that, Ryan said, “Working with a female director, and just in general on this show, this has been the most amazing experience, because I’ve never worked with so many women behind the scenes. In Season 1, we had my first female camera operator; I’d never worked with a woman camera operator before. And our A.D. and just all down the line, it’s just fantastic.” You can see that clip below.
There’s a pretty good women-to-men ratio in front of the camera on Star Trek: Picard as well. Along with Jeri Ryan as Seven, there’s Alison Pill as Dr. Agnes Jurati, Michelle Hurd as Raffi Musiker, and Annie Wersching as the Borg Queen. At the same time Whoopi Goldberg reprised her role as Guinan for this season, while Ito Aghayere plays the younger version of the character in the 21st century. In comparison only three male actors have appeared in every epsiode of season 2 to date — Patrick Stewart as the eponymous Star Trek icon, John de Lancie as Q, and Santiago Cabrera as Cristóbal Rios.
Not to take away from Ryan’s experience, but something that is likely to seem ironic to any Trek fans invested in the behind-the-scenes stories of past shows, is that part of what made Ryan’s experience so difficult on Voyager wasn’t that there weren’t enough women, but that there was one too many. The feud between Jeri Ryan and Kate Mulgrew is infamous. The latter has since expressed regret for how she treated Ryan, confessing she resented that Ryan’s sex appeal was needed to sustain the series. Some of the uglier examples of the feud included Mulgrew reportedly trying to enforce a rule that Ryan couldn’t use the bathroom while filming because of the time it took for her to get in and out of costume, and Mulgrew refusing to let hair and makeup crew members work on Ryan before close ups. Robert Beltran, who played Chaklotay on the series and is known for his plain-speaking, once promised “If… it was me being insulted and Kate was a man, I probably would have taken a swipe at the guy.”
Jeri Ryan returns this week for “Fly Me to the Moon” — the mid-way point of Picard‘s second season. The episode begins streaming tomorrow morning on Paramount+. Star Trek alum Jonathan Frakes return to the series to direct.