Next week, Star Trek‘s George Takei takes on a new role, that of a holographic martial arts sensei, in Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas.
Supah Ninjas is “about a team of three young teenage ninjas, one of them being my grandson Mike (Ryan Potter),” said Takei. “I’m a ninja master and I want to see the art and the tradition of our clan carried on. My son doesn’t quite measure up, but I find that the genes have skipped a generation and the grandson has all the qualities necessary. So I recruit my grandson to be a ninja, and he has a good buddy named Owen Reynolds (Carlos Knight). He wants his buddy to be a ninja as well, and I agree.”
The prospect of steady work was one of the draws for Takei when it came to accepting the role. “Well, it’s been some time since I had a series regular role,” he said. “As you know, I am associated with Star Trek and then I did Heroes as a recurring character. But when this opportunity came for me to be a regular again, and working with young people which I enjoy, I thought ‘Wow, this is going to be fun!’ I’m really pleased that it’s turned out as wonderfully as it has. The kids are great and the writers are fantastic.”
Other attractions include music and working with young people. “Some of the episodes are of epic scale, and others are whimsical,” said Takei. “As a matter of fact, in one [episode], I get the chance to sing. Musical theatre has always been one of my passions, so it combines all of the things that I enjoy about being an actor. And I’m being made to feel young again, with young people around me!”
Takei also spoke about his time on Star Trek, and what he took away from that experience. “I think the best gift I got from Star Trek [was] some of the friendships,” he said. “With so many TV or movies you become friends while you’re working and you might sporadically keep up the relationship, but with Star Trek my work colleagues have become real, good, genuine friends. Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and Walter Koenig (Chekov) were part of mine and Brad’s wedding party.”
Although he’s not exactly friends with William Shatner, the two are civil to one another when they run across each other. “We do still speak to each other, yes,” said Takei. “‘Hi, George!’ and ‘hi, Bill!’ and that’s about it. We exchange pleasantries. He is a fascinating, charismatic guy, but so self-possessed, and that becomes a little bit of a strain. But he has mellowed.”
Takei has no plans to retire, even though he’s in his mid-seventies. “You know the wonderful thing about acting is they’re always going to need old codgers,” he said. “And I hope I’ll be around to be able to service those roles.”
Supah Ninjas will debut Monday, September 12 at 6 PM on the Nickelodeon Channel.