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Jeri Ryan on joining ‘Star Trek: Picard’: ‘Resistance was futile’


Jeri Ryan has a Borg-like appraisal of joining the cast of “Star Trek: Picard.”

“Yeah, resistance was kind of futile, I guess,” Ryan tells The Post with a laugh. She’s reprising her “Star Trek: Voyager” role of Seven of Nine, the part-human, part-machine former Borg drone she played on that series from 1997 to 2001. Ryan is shocked by her own enthusiasm about Seven’s new life in the show, which picks up two decades after the “Voyager” storyline ended.

“It’s really a kind of delightful surprise to be excited to play her again,” she says of the character, who is now a bourbon-drinking vigilante Fenris Ranger with fewer mechanical Borg implants and a lot more swagger. “I thought that I was done. I’d said goodbye to her, and I’d moved on and that was it.”

The new CBS All Access series, which has been renewed for a second season, stars Sir Patrick Stewart, 79, as former Starfleet Admiral Jean-Luc Picard, a role he first originated in the 1987-1994 franchise installment “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Picard, himself once assimilated by the species-destroying Borg, enlists the help of Seven to track down Soji (Isa Briones), the android daughter of deceased USS Enterprise officer Data (Brent Spiner), a character who also makes reappearances in Picard’s dreams.

Since leaving “Voyager,” Ryan — who turns 52 on Saturday — has kept busy with more earthbound roles on shows like “Bosch,” “Body of Proof,” “Leverage” and “Boston Legal.” And she’s not just traversing the “Star Trek” galaxy these days: She will also start an arc on CBS’ “MacGyver” on April 10, according to a show publicist, playing Angus MacGyver’s (Lucas Till) aunt.

What is Seven’s state of mind at this point in her life?

Seven’s in a really dark place when we meet her. The Borg have always been universally hated but now they’re also literally hunted down for parts. It hasn’t been fun. I think that humanity, for a large part, has proved a pretty huge disappointment to her.

Did you rewatch any old “Voyager” episodes to prepare for “Picard”?

No, I didn’t. I played that character for four years — I know her so well. I mean, you never really leave because we still do conventions, and we talk to fans and we’re still answering questions about this character 20 years later. So she’s never been completely out of my mind. It wasn’t so hard to fall back into who she was originally; the struggle was to find the changed and new Seven.

What worried you most about reprising her?

Making sure that it was still Seven. It’s been 20 years — she’s very changed, as she should be. But I didn’t want it to be a really cool but completely different character that happens to have the same prosthetic over her eye, you know? That was my biggest struggle and my biggest fear when I saw the first script.

How did you home in on that?

There’s physical choices you make as an actor. How a character moves and sits, how they walk, stand and hold themselves. Even though she’s much freer, much more human and much more casual than she was last time we saw her, I wanted to make sure there were a couple physical things that were identifiably still Seven that the fans could say, “Oh, there she is.”

What is something you retained?

Well, it’s small, specific things. I don’t want to draw an arrow to all of them because that’s all people will see then. But one of the things fans did catch is the tiny little scene where Seven beams onto the bridge for the first time, and Twitter sort of lit up with, “Oh, my God, there’s the Seven head-tilt, that little nod.” (Laughs) They all picked up on that immediately, and I thought that was so cool. I mean, “Star Trek” fans do not miss anything.

In the “Voyager” finale, Seven was starting a relationship with First Officer Chakotay (Robert Beltran). Did you ask “Picard” showrunners how that would be resolved? 

I did ask. (Laughs) I don’t know. Maybe it just, for whatever reason, didn’t work out, or she got back [to Earth] and realized that none of it is what she expected. I don’t know that that’ll ever be truly addressed. But never say never; I’ve learned that in a strange way.

On “Voyager,” you wore a form-fitting bodysuit, but in “Picard” you wear looser attire. Will you need to don the catsuit for flashbacks?

I was worried about that when we got the 13-year flashback at the beginning of [Thursday’s] episode. But no. Christine Bieselin Clark, our costume designer, is brilliant. She was very good at finding a middle ground between Seven’s appearance now and Seven’s appearance on “Voyager.”

How uncomfortable were the full-on Borg prosthetics that covered your head early in your “Voyager” run?

They were rough. And every year they’d write a Borg flashback episode, and it was like, “Oh, God!” (Laughs) My heart goes out to the people who are willing to wear full-head prosthetics all the time. That’s amazing.