Alice Krige made such an indelible impression as the sinewy, sexy and sinister Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact that the character remains one the greatest Trek villains of all time. Krige later reprised the role in the Voyager series finale, “Endgame,” and provided her voice for both the game Star Trek: Armada II and the Borg Invasion 4-D short at the Star Trek: Experience attraction in Las Vegas. The Borg Queen represents just one role in Krige’s long and varied career, but it’s still a favorite to Trek fans and Krige herself. StarTrek.com recently caught up with the South African actress – who’s been living mostly in London since her home in L.A. burned down during the fires there-- for an exclusive two-part interview in which she talked about the Borg Queen and filled us in on her current acting and producing endeavors. Below is part one and be on the lookout tomorrow for the second half of the conversation.
Today, November 22, is the 14th anniversary of Star Trek: First Contact’s release into theaters. How crazy is it that so much time has flown by already?
Krige: Life fast-forwards, I guess. A lot has happened in those 14 years, in my life and probably in everyone’s life. Fourteen years; goodness, it is a long time.
You’ve done so much in your career, acted around the world on stage, in films and on television. That said, you’re extraordinarily popular with a core group of sci-fi and horror fans who appreciate your work in First Contact, Ghost Story, Sleepwalkers, Children of Dune and Silent Hill. Is that disconcerting, perfectly fine with you, or a phenomenon that’s out of your control?
Krige: I suppose that I’ve got two thoughts on it. Very often, the characters that one plays in the genre form, like Silent Hill or First Contact, are huge characters. They’re like Shakespearean women, like Lady M. They’re not just like playing your next-door neighbor and, as such, I think that they’re quite memorable. However, people have seen the other work, too. There’s more of an organized fan base for the genre work, of course. But if someone stops me to say, “Oh, were you the Borg Queen?” or “Were you the ghost?” they will also often say, “And I saw you in this and this and this, and I really enjoyed you in that as well.” So, it’s hard to quantify if (the genre projects) are what people principally recognize me for, especially because they’re part of a very communicative and organized fan base. They’ll come forward and say hello, which I love, actually. I don’t feel it’s an intrusion. I’m delighted to know that someone has seen something that I’ve done and enjoyed it.
When you think back to the actual production of First Contact, what are the first things that come to mind?
Krige: What pops is what a truly joyful experience it was. They were like the best repertory theater, that cast. They hadn’t worked together, the Next Gen group, for about two years, I think, and they were really delighted to see each other and to work with each other again. It was just a ball. It was just flat-out fun from beginning to end for me. Another thing that I found very striking was that everyone was absolutely determined that it should be a good film because they really wanted to support Jonathan Frakes (who was debuting as a feature film director after having directed several TNG episodes). There’s always a sense of focus on a set, but there was a kind of cohesion on First Contact. People stepped in behind him, I felt, to support him in the most loving way. I’m not saying that he needed support. I’m just saying that it was like a truly functional family supporting one of its own. If I look back on it, that was what was most unique about the experience.
You returned to the Star Trek fold for Armada II and The Experience, but you did not play the Borg Queen in her first Voyager appearances. Susanna Thompson assumed the role for those episodes. Did you, when you returned for “Endgame,” check out those Voyager episodes either to see what Thompson had done or to get a feeling for how the writers had developed the character in your absence?
Krige: I chose not to watch Susanna. I generally don’t like watching myself. In retrospect, it’s OK to watch rushes or to watch the replays on the monitor in the flow of making it, but I find it very painful to watch myself afterward. And I decided that I would not watch Susanna. It had absolutely nothing to do with Susanna. Whoever had played the role, I would have made the same decision. But I did ask to receive all the scripts. And I read them. I read all of the Voyager episodes that the Borg Queen was in, but I didn’t watch them. I didn’t want something in my head, in my imagination. I needed my performance to happen in the moment, and I didn’t even watch First Contact again. So not only did I not watch Susanna, I didn’t watch First Contact. I just focused on the stories I’d been sent, that had been filmed, and on the new script for “Endgame.”
Several years had passed between your appearances. So, how different an experience was it for you to play the Borg Queen on Voyager versus First Contact?
Krige: It was very different in that this time (on Voyager) I was actually working with two women (Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan). There’s a very different energy to that; delightful and just as interesting and just as challenging, but quite different. What was lovely was there were members of the First Contact crew who were either on the lot, working on other things, or who were on Voyager, and everyone came in to say hello. That was lovely.
Be on the look out tomorrow for part two of our interview with the Borg Queen herself, Alice Krige.