This decade has been particularly kind to George Takei.
With his portrayal of Lok Durd in this week's animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Takei has become the first major Star Trek actor to become part of the Star Wars universe. Then again, if that isn?t enough, he also has his recurring role of Kaito Nakamura in Heroes.
?In some ways, Heroes and Star Trek have a lot of tie-ins,? says Takei. ?Masa Oki, who plays my son on Heroes is a widely avid Star Trek fan. In fact, the reason why I started watching Heroes is because fans emailed me to tell me one of the characters was a Star Trek fan. So I started watching and quickly got hooked on it. Then I got a call from my agent saying they were interested in me to play the father of Hiro Nakamura.
?So I went and met with Tim Kring, the guy who created Heroes, and I got hired. Then, on the set, I met a lot of people on the set and found a good number of them are really, wildly dedicated Star Trek fans. In fact, the prop master is the most avid of them all. He was the one who prepared a license plate in the limo my character goes around to have ?NCC 1701,? the registry of the Starship Enterprise. Another, a member of the writing staff, remembered my great sword fighting scene in Star Trek, so he worked in a sword fighting scene for Kaito Nakamura? So that?s how that scene in the first season came about. So there?s a lot of tie-in and bouncing off of Star Trek with Heroes.
?With Heroes, one never knows what?s happening,? Takei adds. ?There?s nothing on the surface that?s as it seems. When my character was pushed off the building, I thought well, that was a fun run, but I guess that?s it. Then other scripts started to come. After all, I?m the father of a time travelling son. So I?ve been making appearances. Who knows what?s going to happen? Only Tim Kring and the writing staff will determine.?
One thing Takei does hope is that he returns. He certainly enjoys the star treatment he gets on the show.
?They?re very accommodating,? he notes. ?I got married last September, and they arranged my scenes to be after my honeymoon. They skirted around my scenes until I came back.?
As for his possible return to either property, he?s keeping his fingers crossed.
?The Clone Wars is, in some ways, like Heroes,?says Takei. ?You don?t know what?s going to be happening in the future, and then the script comes. With Heroes, when I was originally cast I thought my role was only going to be about a father/son relationship with me trying to keep up with this weirdo son who suddenly jets to New York for no apparent reason. Then one day a script arrives and it has a scene with me carrying a baby and it turns out to be baby Claire that I hand over to HRG to raise. That?s when I had to realize there was more to this character than I thought. Then other scripts come and I discover there?s more. I?m involved with another generation with powers.
?With Clone Wars, it?s the same thing. The next script brings what the next script brings, and Lok Durd is an absolutely fascinating character. He?s certainly a unique adversary with a unique approach to using technology. So anything can happen. I?m waiting for the next script.?
Not that Takei isn?t keeping busy. Before coming to the interview session, he had just come from doing some TV commercials. Afterwards he was off to Canada.
?I?m going to Edmonton, Canada to narrate a symphony that has to do with science fiction,? says Takei. ?The music is from sci-fi and fantasy-related movies. Themes from Star Trek and Star Wars will be performed. I?ll be doing that in Ottowa as well. So that?s another space-oriented kind of extension of my voice work. I?m in conversation on a stage play in London. Being it?s only in conversation, I?ll only hint at it.?
It doesn?t take much prompting to get the man to talk about the theater. Like a lot of old school actors, he?s totally enamored with it.
?What we haven?t talked about is theater work,? he brings up. ?My soul really resides and thrives in theater. If you know the play Equus, I did Dysart here in Los Angeles. Dysart is the psychologist who was originally played by Richard Griffith opposite Daniel Radcliffe better known for playing Harry Potter. Richard Burton played him in the film version. Leonard Nimoy also did it on Broadway. I think he followed Richard Burton. On Broadway, it was first done by Anthony Hopkins. Then Anthony Perkins played him. I first saw it in London, with Anthony Hopkins as Dysart. I never thought I would get a chance to do that role.
?I also was in Pacfic Overtures all over. Another stage role I did in New York that I really enjoyed was entitled Year of the Dragon by a Chinese-American playwright named Frank Chin. It was the first time I can remember that as an actor I was able to use my experience as an Asian-American in my work. It was later taped for television for PBS, so it can be seen.?
Takei has also been on television for other reasons. He?s been actively campaigning against California?s Proposition 8, which could potentially dissolve his marriage to Brad Altman.
?As you know, it?s being challenged,? says Takei. ?I?m confident it?s going to be overturned because it proposes to amend the constitution of the state of California simply by going out and gathering signatures. Then putting an initiative on the ballot and getting fifty percent of the vote plus one to amend the Constitution.
?That?s not how the Constitution is legally amended. There is a whole process. Both houses of the California legislature have to approve it by 2/3?s majority, not fifty percent plus one. That?s 2/3?s vote, both in the California House and Assembly. Then it goes on the ballot. Also, the voters have to approve it by a 2/3?s vote.
?We got married when the Supreme Court of the State of California said there was a fundamental right for all people to be married,? says Takei. Now the attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, is challenging Proposition 8 as well. He knows his way around the legislature, being a former governor and all that.
?There?s now something like 18,000 marriages that happened after the Supreme Court initially acted in May. It became in June. We got married in September. The vote happened in November. There?s no way those marriages are not going to happen.?
It only leads one to the conclusion we?ll be hearing from Takei one way or another, whether is in George Lucas? greatly expanding universe, somehow from Star Trek, or invovled with the courts of California.
- From 'Trek' to 'Wars': George Takei, part 1
- From 'Trek' to 'Wars': George Takei, part 2
- Video - 'Star Trek' Writers Boldly Go ... to the Beginning