Takei Thinks 'New Voyages' Actor Could Play Sulu ProfessionallyBy Michelle
May 3, 2007 - 9:26 PM
George Takei believes that he has found the perfect person to play young Lieutenant (or Ensign, or Cadet) Sulu in Star Trek XI: the Washington, DC attorney-turned actor who is playing him in Star Trek: New Voyages, John Lim, who impressed Takei with his emotional portrayal of a younger version of his most famous character in the fan film series.
In a long interview at IGN, Takei noted that Sulu does not need to be played by a Japanese or Japanese-American actor because series creator Gene Roddenberry intended all along that the character be of complex Asian heritage, which is why Sulu was named for the Sulu Sea off the Philippines, "and he thought 'Ahh, the waters of a sea touch all shores.'" The first name Hikaru was an addition after Japanese-American Takei got the role.
Busy now with another television science fiction franchise, NBC's Heroes, where he plays the mysterious Kaito Nakamura, Takei said that he appears in the final two episodes this season and joked that even though he is a runner, he ached all over after filming the physical scenes for the series. "In my very first episode I didn't have a word to say! It was a piece of cake," he recalled. "I showed up, got into makeup and waited until it got dark. Then I got out of a car, glared, and then 'cut!'" Whereas filming the action for the penultimate episode, "I discovered muscles that I didn't know I had."
Takei said that he is slowly making discoveries about his character, as is the audience. He knew from the start that he played a very wealthy man who cared about his family legacy, but discovered his character's first name only later - and, coincidentally, Takei has a grand-nephew named Kaito. Another coincidence: Nakamura is his mother's maiden name. "When we were children my mother used to tell us that we have samurai lineage on her side of the family," he revealed. "But you know, all Japanese-American mothers tell their children 'we have Samurai in our family.'" His father never spoke much about his lineage, but when Takei visited Japan, "I discovered that not only do we have samurai lineage, in fact, on my father's side but a legendary and Samurai named Takeda Shingen who is one of the great fabled samurai in Japanese history. The 'take' part of Takei, my surname, that character in Japanese means 'warrior' so I have warrior lineage on my father's side."
In addition to Heroes, Takei has taken part in Thank God You're Here, an improvisational comedy show that he found "terrifying" to do. On the other hand, he enjoyed participating in Comedy Central's roast of his longtime co-star William Shatner. "I told them that I've got forty years of material on this. And they said 'Sorry, we can only give you five minutes.' So I packed those five minutes with forty years of material," explained Takei. Asked about all the ribbing he took for recently having come out as a gay man, Takei insisted that he and his partner had been out to their families and castmates for many years, but had never spoken to the media: "You guys make it official. It was a political move on my part, and I'm an activist on that issue."
For more, including Takei's perception of how things are changing for GBLT people in entertainment and his hopes for the future of Star Trek, the full interview is at IGN.