Seven of Nine actor Jeri Ryan on playing half of the ‘hottest lesbian couple’ in Star Trek history
Star Trek: Picard star Jeri Ryan discusses Seven of Nine’s enduring legacy and the origin of the “hottest lesbian couple” in the franchise’s history.
Ryan made her debut over two decades ago as the former Borg drone Seven on season four of Star Trek: Voyager. The character quickly became one of the long-running sci-fi franchise’s top fan-favourites for her fierce attitude and dynamic storyline.
Now, Ryan is returning to the role once again for the second season of Star Trek: Picard. In the first season of the show, fans watched as a beautiful romance formed between Seven and Jean-Luc Picard’s former first officer commander Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd).
Season two of Picard begins with Seven and Musiker embarking on separate adventures across the universe while continuing their relationship. But they soon reunite to join Picard (Patrick Stewart) to save the timeline after it is altered by the near-omnipotent Q (John de Lancie).
In an interview with SFX Magazine, Ryan revealed that the iconic relationship happened by happenstance. She recalled how she “dropped a seed” about a possible queer relationship between Seven and Musiker after a “network party at Comic-Con”.
“We were at a network party at Comic-Con, and we took a picture together, Michelle and I, that Johnny [Jonathan Del Arco] took,” Ryan said. “I said, ‘Well, there’s the hottest lesbian couple that never existed,’ and they both went, ‘Oh my God, that’s it. That’s perfect!’”
Ryan said Del Arco, who plays Hugh on the show, and Hurd then ran to the show’s producers to pitch the idea. Luckily, the showrunners loved the idea, and the romance made it onto screens.
Ryan believed the relationship has not changed her iconic character but instead just revealed “another facet” of Seven for Star Trek fans to enjoy.
“This is a relationship between two very damaged people who are trying to figure out if they can heal themselves enough to actually be together, if that makes sense,” Ryan said.
Jeri Ryan said Picard’s first season featured the “beginnings and the flirtation” of a relationship between the two women. In season two, there is a “time-cut” – as Ryan calls it – to when they are officially together and have been in a relationship for a while.
“We skip the whole honeymoon phase, and we are into the complexities of an adult relationship, in the trenches, you’re in the middle of it,” Ryan said. “How do you navigate a whirlwind romance that’s born from primarily adrenaline, and now you have to navigate the day-to-day while you’re also saving the world?”
Ryan added there had long been discussions that Seven would eventually come out as part of the LGBT+ community, but she said these conversations were quickly shut down.
“I know that Jeri Taylor, who was one of the showrunners at the time, was very interested in making Seven gay or bi or pansexual, and that was shut down,” Ryan said. “But it’s the character that would have made perfect sense – absolute perfect sense – from the get-go because she didn’t even grow up human.”
She continued: “Why should she have any preconceived notions about sexuality or any of it?
“It’s the perfect character to explore that storyline with.”
Jeri Ryan added that one of the reasons behind why Seven has appealed to so many fans throughout the years is because Star Trek “holds a mirror up to society”.
“That’s what it’s always done,” Ryan said. “But because these characters specifically, because they’re just slightly on the outside, do that in a particularly, I think, impactful way.”
She felt so many people related to Seven because the character is “half-human” and has “got that constant struggle within herself”.