Takei: Typecasting Is A Double-Edged SwordBy Caillan
October 15, 2001 - 6:09 AM
It's no secret that many sci-fi actors find themselves stereotyped for the rest of their lives, but George Takei (Hikaru Sulu) has found that there are advantages to being typecast.
"When you're associated with a show that's enormously popular, and has the kind of longevity that Star Trek has, you discover that Hollywood producers are notoriously unimaginative," Takei told SFX Magazine (via StarTrek UK). "They see you as that character, rather than as an actor. However that's a sword that's double-edged; an association with Star Trek has commercial currency."
The actor has been offered many opportunities due to his fame. "I've been able to do plays in Britain, from Brighton to Edinburgh," he said. "You have a lot of fine British Asian actors in London, so why fly me all the way over to England, other than the fact that I have this Star Trek hook? And sure enough, at the end of each performance, at the stage door, it's another Star Trek convention."
First and foremost though, Takei has realised that he can use his exposure to present positive images to the community. "It's a responsibility because there is an image that people want you to fulfil," he said, "but at the same time the challenge is that I'm human. I might be seen in a club some place. My challenge is to humanise that stereotype that people try to create. When you're put on a pedestal like that, concomitant with that comes responsibilities, and I try to deal with that with my public services."
Indeed, the actor was appointed to the Transit Board of Los Angeles by Mayor Bradley. "When [the board members] asked [Bradley] why he appointed an actor to the board," Takei recalled, "he said that he'd seen me take people on TV from Alpha Ceti IV to Neptune, so there's no reason why I couldn't take them from downtown LA to Van Nuys!"