Takei Is Very Happy With His Full ScheduleBy Michelle
April 27, 2006 - 3:28 PM
George Takei (Sulu) acknowledged that the "pop icon status" given him by Star Trek has provided him with a platform from which he can now support justice and equality for all Americans, particularly lesbian, bisexual, transgender and gay Americans like himself.
In an interview with TV Squad, Takei took a break from his busy live speaking schedule - which sent him to Baltimore to speak for the Human Rights Campaign before Star Trek conventions in New Mexico and Denver - Takei reiterated his frustration with governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's refusal to sign into law a bill that would have permitted gay marriage in California and talked about his experiences in Hollywood, including a recent turn on Will & Grace with Britney Spears, "a diva of the old school."
"I owe it all to Star Trek," admitted Takei, who said that his fame "amplifies my voice and I can reach people." He compared the movement for gay rights to the civil rights and feminist movements of previous eras, saying, "this is that same effort to make America stronger by equalizing, by making equal, the rights of humanity and citizenship." By talking about his experiences on The Howard Stern Show, the actor added, he is reaching an audience of "male, straight, married, suburban Republicans in Oklahoma or Nebraska or Minnesota" who have written to tell him that after listening, they are willing to support gay marriage in their own states.
Takei hopes to be back on Stern's show when his schedule permits, but he said that between speaking engagements and board meetings, he has not been available for the week-long engagement that Stern wanted. "He's a decent guy who recognizes the injustice that gays and lesbians currently have to put up with, and all the societal forces," Takei said of the shock jock. He understands that Stern's on-air persona is just that, like Takei's own persona when he plays himself on television, such as recently on Will & Grace: "The characters are named 'George Takei', but it isn't me," he laughed. He found the cast to be very professional and likeable, but Spears, who appeared on the same episode, "comes with a herd of people in her wake, you know? It's harking back to the days of yore of Hollywood...she has an entourage."
To celebrate Star Trek's 40th anniversary, Takei said he will be doing a number of conventions, and "I'm going to be doing another episode of Star Trek," he added. He will appear in the fan series Star Trek: New Voyages playing an older Sulu in an episode scheduled to be webcast in 2007. "When we were doing Star Trek back in the sixties, we never dreamt of, first of all, a computer in our homes and in our laps wherever we go," he said. "Doing Star Trek to be viewed like that was the most undreamt-of thing. And here I am about to get started working on a show that's going to be available in that fashion."
Though Takei laughed that William Shatner is "a loser" for not remaining friendly with the original Star Trek cast like himself, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and the others while they were alive, he said that he is comfortable now with his life and his connections. As a teenager, he explained, he had to keep his sexuality a secret, so he was very solitary, but "at the same time, I was interested in public activity, you know, doing plays, going to parties. Then I got involved in the political arena...so I kept my gayness suppressed and hidden." Now that is no longer necessary.