While Trekkies worldwide exult in the return of Jeri Ryan to "Star Trek: Picard," the actor is also coming back to "Star Trek Online" — a long-running game in the Trek universe.
Fielding so many new Trek ventures at the same time has resulted in long days and countless media interviews for Ryan, 51, but her excitement overrode the tiredness when she spoke with Space.com last week about her role on "Picard" and in "Star Trek Online: Legacy," which launches today to mark the game's 10th anniversary.
"I'm shocked that this actually is happening," Ryan said of her return to the role, which she first played during "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995 to 2001). "It's very surreal, very surprising, and I'm thrilled. I'm really thrilled."
Ryan plays — or perhaps, more properly speaking after all these years, embodies — Seven of Nine. Seven is a formerly assimilated member of the Borg, a notorious Trek alien species that enslaves all species it encounters into a collective. The role is so second-nature to Ryan that she instinctively knows Seven's voice and reactions. So it was concerning to her when, after 20 years, she encountered some changes in how Seven is doing.
"When I saw the first script, I panicked," Ryan said. "She was so different on the page, and I couldn't find her voice. I couldn't hear her in it. I was just freaking out. My husband said, 'I never saw you get so freaked out.' It took me a while, but I had phone calls with the producers, who were lovely and very open to any suggestions or changes that any of us — coming back and having played these characters before — needed to make it more true."
Seven's role in "Picard" is quite interesting to Trek fans, because much of "Picard" is based on another "Star Trek" franchise called "The Next Generation" (1987 to 2004). Seven's franchise ("Voyager") is newer than TNG, so she never appeared in TNG. But the two franchises share a key similarity: they both extensively discuss the Borg. And it was two prominent actors in TNG who offered Ryan guidance in figuring out the new Seven.
The two actors were Jonathan Frakes (William T. Riker, aka "Number One" to Trek fans) and Jonathan Del Arco (who played another Borg, called "Hugh" or "Three of Five"). Frakes directs two episodes of "Picard," and Del Arco will resume his acting role in the new show, so they were well-positioned to guide Ryan as she learned more about how Seven has changed.
Without revealing too much of the plot of "Picard" — which debuted Thursday (Jan. 23) — it shows a Trek universe that is wrestling with dark moral issues in the past 20 years. Seven encountered some "dark times" in those decades, and she also has a more firmly forged identity after spending so long away from the Borg collective. These experiences have changed her in numerous ways.
Regarding "Star Trek Online," Ryan is also making a return to that franchise after several years. She estimates that it was seven years ago that she recorded content for the game, and now she's coming back for another chapter. (Again, you'll have to play the game to find out what happens.)
"I loved the way they're updating the character, as in the show," Ryan said. "Star Trek Online" will also show Seven's difficulties with her dark past, and will have "equivalent storylines" to "Picard" for consistency across the two franchises, Ryan said.
While it took some time to get to know Seven again, Ryan said she is so proud of the individual Seven has become. "I love her resilience. I love the righteous anger she's holding on to. She's really cool, and I think the fans will enjoy it."
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