Taking Charge: NTSF:SD:SUV::'s & Warehouse 13's Kate Mulgrew

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Adult Swim

The NTSF:SD:SUV:: team (L-R): Sam (Martin Starr), Jessie (Rebecca Romijn), Kove (Kate Mulgrew), Trent (Paul Scheer), Alphonse (Brandon Johnson) and Piper (June Diane Raphael

In today’s ever-changing world it takes a very special individual to combat terrorism and keep the flag of democracy flying high and proud. The men, women and robot of Adult Swim’s NTSF: SD: SUV:: (National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle::) know that only too well. They risk their lives on a daily basis in order to protect San Diego and its citizens from any and all nefarious terrorist-backed plots.

Having survived the show’s first year unscathed, our heroes have returned for another year of even more dangerous (and highly amusing) missions. As head of the NTFS: SD: SUV::, the tough-talking, eye patch-sporting, hard-drinking, pipe-smoking, sex-crazed Kove has already sent her lead agent (and ex-husband) Trent Hauser and his team to deal with everything from a killer targeting Hollywood directors to a terrorist who only attacks the city on Saturdays.

Stage and screen actress Kate Mulgrew, who plays Kove, praises series creator and executive producer Paul Scheer (who also plays Trent) for making such an outrageous premise not only work but also something that is a pleasure to be a part of.

“There is only one Paul, and the guy is terrific,” says Mulgrew. “He’s outrageously funny, and he’s also incredibly smart, generous and kind, so he can pull together anything. Paul is like a magician. Every time I turn around there’s another movie star on set, and every comedian in Hollywood wants to be on the show.

“Paul just makes you feel like you’re riding a very absurd but also wonderful kind of wave, and I think this [second] season is, if anything, even better than last year. It’s certainly more grounded. The characters are far more developed because we knew what we were getting ourselves into, and they [the writers] had the stories done in advance, so there were very few things that we didn’t try to do this season.

“For me, personally, returning to the show and my character, it was kind of a feeling of, okay, I’m back here with all these insane people,” jokes the actress. “Now I have to let go of everything I know in the outside world whereby I consider myself to be ‘normal,’ because I’m not, and reengage in Kove’s psyche, which is so demented that it actually works, because as we know, if there’s one person on Earth who takes herself completely and deeply seriously, it’s Kove.”

Having strapped Kove’s eye patch back on and once again assumed command of the NTSF: SD: SUV:: unit, how has Mulgrew seen her character further grow and develop in the show’s second season? “I think what’s true with any series, whether you’re doing a comedy or a drama, is that you’re more relaxed in the second season because you know a little bit more about what to expect,” notes the actress. “I had to ‘find’ Kove in the first season. I know that sounds silly, but it takes time. I’m not a comedian, I’m a legitimate dramatic actress, and I understood that Paul Scheer wanted a sort of Judi Dench/M-type thing [referring to the James Bond feature film character] from me.

“So I took that and ran with it last season, but then I developed that further in the second season. They’ve allowed for Kove’s absurdity through the character’s self-seriousness, and everything gets far more intense. Kove has a podcast now as well as endless monologues about the virtues of San Diego, and she has an obsession with sex. Again, it’s just better this year, and I think that’s true of every character on the show.

“I had a wonderful scene with the very funny comedian Kerri Kenney-Silver in one of the episodes. She’s in a tub of water, hooked up to all sorts of things, and Kove is interviewing her for her podcast. Then there’s another scene I did in the briefing room, where Paul wrote me this monologue which was about a page long and it just grows in velocity and intensity until it makes absolutely no sense at all. Of course, it has to make perfect sense while it’s coming out of my mouth,” says Mulgrew with a chuckle.

“Those were both challenging and fun scenes. I also had a lot of laughs this season with Rob Riggle [President of the Navy], and Kove had an affair with a 22-year-old rabbi this season, too. Of course, he was trying to teach my character the values of the Torah, but she just wanted to have a little fun.”

Along with Kove on NTSF: SD: SUV::, the actress also reprises her role this year as Jane Lattimer in the hit Syfy series Warehouse 13. In the season four episode "An Evil Within," her character helps Claudia Donovan (Allison Scagliotti) use one of the Artifacts to bring Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore) back to life.

“I love Allison Scagliotti,” says the actress. “What a fine young actress. She’s one of the great ones, I think, of her generation, and I keep telling her that. She needs to get to Hollywood and into movies. The kid is so smart as well as naturally intense and very present as an actress. It’s a joy to work with Allison, and I’d love to have more scenes with her.

“I enjoy myself tremendously on Warehouse 13. Jack Kenny, the show runner, is a good friend of mine, and Saui Rubinek [Artie Nielsen] is an old and good friend of mine. I have nothing but fun there. The whole production is run beautifully and there’s a great sense of respect as well as collaboration on the set. I’m happy to be a part of it.

“I’ve done a couple of episodes so far this year, but who knows what the future will bring. My character of Jane is now the head Regent, so she holds the keys to everything if you will, but to be perfectly honest I don’t have any idea what they have in mind. I’m sure, though, that it will be intriguing, because after all, Jane is Pete’s [Eddie McClintock] mother. I think it would be interesting if they did an episode where her life is in jeopardy and they have to find a very mysterious and wonderful way to save her by using one of the Artifacts. Again, we’ll have to wait and see what Jack comes up with.”

Moving beyond the TV sci-fi/fantasy realm, Mulgrew’s fans can look forward to seeing her in the 2013 feature film Drawing Home. “It’s a beautiful independent movie based on the lives of Catherine and Peter White, who were wonderful painters and artists in the 1920s,” she says. “The cast was incredible and included Peter Strauss and Rutger Hauer. I play the mother [Edith Morse Robb], and it was an amazing experience.

“I’ll also be doing a new play next spring in New York called Somewhere Fun by the great playwright Jenny Schwartz, and I’m very much looking forward to that.”

From Mary Ryan on the long-running TV soap opera Ryan’s Hope to Star Trek: Voyager’s Captain Kathryn Janeway and now Kove in NTSF: SD: SUV:: as well as Jane Lattimer in Warehouse 13, Mulgrew has portrayed a cornucopia of iconic characters and made an indelible mark in TV history. With so many more roles still left for her to play, she is curious to see what comes next in her professional life.

“I’m very fortunate and grateful for the [acting] opportunities that have availed themselves to me,” says Mulgrew. “Captain Janeway was a huge thing, but hard on the heels of that came other roles that were quite liberating and different, NTSF being a perfect example. I don’t think Paul Scheer called me out of the blue. He called because Janeway struck a chord, and he thought that would work brilliantly with regard to Kove. It’s that kind of thing that makes me so happy, and things continue to unfold like that for me, mysteriously as well as delightfully.”

Please note, all NTSF:SD:SUV:: photos copyright of Adult Swim and Warehouse 13 photo copyright of Syfy.

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A native of Massachusetts, Steve Eramo has been a Sci-Fi fan since childhood, having been brought up on such TV shows as Star Trek and Space: 1999. He is also an Anglophile and lover of British TV. A writer for 35 years – 17 of those as a fulltime freelancer – Steve has had over 2,500 feature-length…

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