What’s in store for Red in season five, then?
I can’t talk about that! It’s an extraordinary season for her. There are other notes yet to be played.
Are you as wedded to your kitchen as Red is?
Well, the prison is in peril, so I would say that all things like kitchens and ghettos and bathrooms and secret hiding places are abandoned in favour of the greater need, which is to survive.
What’s the worst meal you’ve eaten? Red’s served up awful stuff…
They send in all those bags [of food, to use on set]. One was beef Wellington and I’ve never seen anything so gross in my whole life. The dogs wouldn’t even eat it. The chickens wouldn’t even eat it.
Are you a good cook?
I’m a very good cook! I’ve just made some beautiful pork chops in caper sauce. I made chicken Véronique the night before.
Can I come for dinner?
Any time! It’s therapy for me. It’s fun. And I have a beautiful kitchen, in Ireland. It’s happy.
Which of the cast are you most likely to see socially?
I’m good friends with Taylor Schilling. There are very few actresses who could do what Taylor is doing. I don’t know many who can play those two notes of drama and comedy with equal deftness.
You sound like you love being in the show. Is Red the best role you’ve ever played?
Captain Janeway is a tough one to follow but that was a much more noble role. And a more arduous undertaking — I was on my feet for 18 hours a day for seven years. This is easier but challenging in a different way. She has complexity. They give me a lot of space.
Was playing a Star Trek captain career-eclipsing?
Evidently not but there is always a fear when you play a role that’s got that much exposure. You can be stereotyped.
You were the first female captain in Star Trek. What’s the next milestone for female actresses to overcome?
The defiance of death! Ha ha! Put that in the headline. Kate Mulgrew will defy death! If there’s milestones left, it would be to transition into character roles with great aplomb.
Are there any props from Star Trek you wish you’d pinched?
I stole them all without apology. I took the console from my dressing room, I took part of my captain’s chair, I took the Leonardo da Vinci print from my Ready Room. Need I go on? I left no stone unturned.
Would you like to be in the new Star Trek films?
I would like to have a coming together with Picard, Janeway and Kirk before it’s too late. I think audiences would love that.
Would you like to go into space?
I don’t want to go. I went! You feel like you’ve gone after seven years in the Delta Quadrant in a starship.
Given you’re in a prison drama, what’s the closest you’ve ever come to being arrested?
I fancy myself as a big risk-taker but I’ve never even come close to being arrested. I don’t know why. I’ve done dumb stuff but never got caught.
Your memoir was called Born With Teeth because you were born with neonatal gnashers. Any other biological quirks?
Well, I didn’t feel pain like normal people would.
So if you touch something you can’t feel that it’s hot?
Yes. I can pluck things out of the fire and boiling water. I’m the one who always grabs the toast. I don’t get burned — we can take a lot more than we think we can take.
Which of your roles is most like you?
I’ve got a lot of Janeway in me. I’m organised. Bossy. I can lead. I’m the oldest of eight children. I’m not afraid. But there’s a dollop of Red in there — I’m fractured, I have flaws. We have to watch it, she and I, or we’re going to get bitter and tough.
What are you up to next?
I want to play the head of the IRA in Peaky Blinders. Write that down! I love the fact they’re always fighting with the IRA. I have approached people and they all laugh at me!
Orange Is The New Black season five is on Netflix now