Jeri Ryan couldn’t look to Star Trek: First Contact for help
The Borg were fearsome villains, and the battles that happened between them and the Enterprise and other starships were often devastating to Starfleet. So when they were introduced in Star Trek: Voyager, fans expected more battles. One thing we didn’t expect was a Borg drone to become a working member or the Voyager cast. While there were images of Jeri Ryan in her form-fitting silver costume displayed all across Los Angeles before she made her debut on the series, we didn’t know exactly what to expect. Turns out, neither did she.
The producers had explained to Ryan that they were creating a different type of Borg drone, one that had never been seen before. In Star Trek: Voyager: A Celebration, Ryan said that she was shown Star Trek: First Contact by the producers then promptly told to ignore it.
"“They showed me STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT and said ‘Ignore that, because we’re not doing that.’ They explained that what we were making was a completely new type of Borg.”"
Jeri Ryan had to find the humanity in a Borg drone
When she debuted in “Scorpion, Part II,” she was asked to give the character a little more life than a typical drone. She wasn’t as free to make her own decisions as the Borg Queen was, but she wasn’t an automaton whose every action was controlled. Ryan admitted that her biggest struggle was figuring out just who Seven of Nine was. Because she wasn’t to be considered a full Borg drone, Ryan had to find that part of a machine that was still human.
Looking back on Star Trek: First Contact, it’s easy to see the difference between the hive that The Next Generation crew encountered and Seven of Nine’s character even from the start. One of Voyager’s directors, David Livingston, said that the way Ryan combined the human side of her character with the Borg side was a “brilliant piece of acting.” From the beginning, Seven stood out from the hive as she was supposed to.