Takei Spends Summer Vacation WorkingBy Michelle
June 11, 2007 - 9:40 PM
Busy actor George Takei (Sulu) isn't taking the summer off after his guest appearances on NBC's Heroes; he's in New Orleans working on a teen comedy, American Summer.
"I'm one of those people who thrives on working," Takei told New Orleans' Times-Picayune. "I get a visceral joy from work. And I'm very blessed in that respect." Takei expects to return to Heroes next season, but in between he has speaking engagements, Star Trek conventions and another week-long appearance on Howard Stern's radio show.
At 70, Takei is enjoying a career renaissance. In American Summer, he plays a "snooty maitre d'" working at a house of ill repute, which he calls "a bit of a stretch for me", as the film is a teen romp for American Pie producer Warren Zide. His Heroes character by contrast "is very contained...I suggest certain qualities in the eye, or a lifted eyebrow."
"That's what being an actor is," he added. "You have the mask of tragedy and the mask of comedy, the tragic mask and the laughing mask. And I've been blessed to play both masks in my career." He believes his success is the result of "a combination of preparation and opportunity" coupled with his work ethic: "I used to be a Boy Scout."
Despite his long career, he had to audition to play Mr. Nakamura on Heroes because the producers wanted to be certain that the Asian-American actor could speak convincing Japanese. "I knew some Japanese poetry, so I did it - and they believed," he said.
He did have to learn Japanese swordfighting for the series, which he said was hard work but "I think I've got some mileage on the old machine...you don't get a 40-year-old car to go the same rate it went 40 years ago."
Because he had several weeks to spend in New Orleans with only a small part to shoot, Takei took advantage of sightseeing opportunities. "I'm a historical preservationist, and I think that the French Quarter is one of the treasures of this country," he said. He also visited Le Petit Theatre and Restaurant August, where he had goat for the first time. He also visited the National World War II Museum, of which he said, "I told them there is a very clear and obvious gap at that museum: The all-Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose own families were incarcerated behind the barbed-wire fences of U.S. internment camps...they were fighting for more than Mom's apple pie. They were fighting to get Mom, Dad and the wife and children and brothers and sisters out from behind those barbed-wire fences."
The full interview is here.