Star Trek’s original Hikaru Sulu George Takei discusses activism, former castmates, and more on stage in Boston
Earlier this month, George Takei came to the Wang Theater in Boston, for a special screening of the legendary film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and a Q&A afterwards and he did not disappoint.
The Wrath of Khan is at the top, or near the top, of nearly all Trekkies’ list of favorite Trek movies and it was an absolute delight to watch such a classic acclaimed movie with so many of my fellow geeks. You could practically hear the audience wait for the utterance of each famous line as they repeated it themselves or burst into applause for a famous scene. But as much of a delight as the movie was, the biggest treat for me was the Q&A that followed.
George was his usual gregarious self and the discussion covered topics that ranged from Trek, to his work on Broadway, his activism, and his decades-long career in entertainment. In a statement that should surprise no one, he listed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as his favorite Trek movie because as he dubbed it, it was the “Captain Sulu movie, from the beginning, middle, and end.”
He was asked to describe his fellow Trek co-stars using one word and Takei’s responses were illuminating. He described Nichelle Nichols as “generous”, both in her time supporting her colleagues in their endeavors as well as with her philanthropy. Walter Koenig was described as having a “serious” demeanor, but also having a dry wit. Jimmy Doohan was not surprisingly described with one word: drinking and that although he was Irish, he drank enough Scotch to make him an honorary Scotsman. He called DeForrest Kelley as a “gentleman” but that he also very shy. He described Leonard Nimoy simply as representing “conscience”. He went onto name a specific example of when Nimoy stood up for Nichelle Nichols and him, in getting them on the The Animated Series, because they had originally been written out of the show. Nimoy objected strenuously and said that George and Nichelle were the most visible symbols of diversity and that if the studios didn’t want them on the series, he wouldn’t be involved either. The studios relented and allowed Nichols and Takei to reprise the voices of Uhura and Sulu, respectively, and that was something Takei always appreciated.
“Leonard Nimoy was an extraordinary man.” – @GeorgeTakei
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It’s no secret that there is a long-standing feud between Takei and William Shatner, and he didn’t do anything to dispel that notion on this night. When asked to describe Shatner in one word, Takei predictably hesitated and played out his long pause for some good laughs from the audience. He eventually relented and said that “Ego” was the best way to describe Shatner. Although of course that has a negative connotation, Takei also noted that ego was an essential factor in Shatner being able to create such an iconic character in James T. Kirk.
George then transitioned into discussing the significant work he’s done outside of Star Trek. Most notably, this has been his Broadway play Allegiance, which covers the dark history of US internment of Japanese Americans during the second World War. He also noted that this upcoming February 19th is a National Day of Remembrance for internment and that Allegiance will be shown in more than 600 movie theaters countrywide. Takei also mentioned that the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles will be featuring an exhibit highlighting his film career and his work raising awareness about internment and presenting positive portrayals of Asian Americans in entertainment.
When asked what his greatest accomplishment was in his decades-long career, Takei mentioned that was hard to say because there was still so much more he would like to do. He noted that he certainly would love to do more Star Trek and more theater. Takei would conclude the night by adding that his 80th birthday is only three months away and that he still has more life in him and has “many more worlds to discover”! This fan wholeheartedly agrees and I and many others wish him, Captain Sulu of the USS Excelsior, many more years of discovery and adventure!
(photos: Brian Wilkins for TrekNews.net)