George Takei, best known as Star Trek’s Sulu, is still a creative force — helping to inspire a Broadway musical, maintaining a very funny and popular Facebook page, and speaking out for gay rights, in addition to his ongoing acting gigs.
He can also pull off a pretty good April Fool’s joke, as he proved earlier today when he convinced many of his Facebook fans that he would be starring in a new J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” film called “Excelsior,” marking the return of Capt. Sulu to the big screen.
In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Takei explained why during a wide-ranging appearance in Seattle this weekend at Emerald City Comicon, where he was interviewed on stage by actor and radio personality Danny Bonaduce.
Here are a few of the highlights.
How he runs his Facebook page: The thing is I have so many wonderful, funny people who send me cartoons and jokes and ideas. We get to pick and choose from the wonderful ideas or cartoons or photos that we get sent. (Takei’s husband Brad Altman) and I were doing it, but now it’s become a tsunami of suggestions and submissions from people. So we’ve had to take on a couple of interns to help us, as well.
What we do is we stockpile them and we put them out in dribs and drabs daily. Some days, like when we’re here in Seattle, the ones that we’ve stockpiled are what’s being put out in dribs and drabs. It creates the illusion that we are working hard, putting in 10 hours a day, every day, and I’m sorry to shatter that illusion.
On the J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie (the name of which Takei has criticized): I thought it was a terrific movie. It really had pace, and rhythm and action, and it had to be done with a younger cast. All of that running in the corridor, I can’t imagine Bill Shatner running.
On the chances of a cameo in a future Star Trek movie: Leonard (Nimoy) made a cameo in the first one, and I thought they would include the still-living one of us in the subsequent ones, but I think they made a policy decision they’re going to try to get away from that confusion, and the story track of bringing an old ancient Spock back.
So they don’t have any cameos for any of us in the next one, and from what I understand, should there be another J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie (beyond the one currently being filmed), it will be without any of us.
On his signature saying: I’ve been saying, “Oh, my” all my life. When I started appearing on the Howard Stern show occasionally, he would say some outrageous things, and the only way you could respond to those statements were, “Oh, my.” And he had it on tape, so even when I’m not there. He says something outrageous, and he presses the button, and it plays, “Oh, my.”
So Howard Stern is the man who made it my signature. Not me. I just say it all the time. He’s the one who made it a broadcast phenomenon.
How Star Trek foreshadowed modern technology: We really are living in the science fiction world. All of the amazing technology that we had on Star Trek, that was supposed to be the future. For example, we walked all around the starship with this incredible device attached to our hip. Whenever we wanted to talk with someone, we would rip that off, flip it open and start talking. Astounding! No cords attached to it.
Today, in our lives, that amazing science fiction device has become a real nuisance in our world.
It takes pictures, we make restaurant reservations. We buy movie tickets. It’s an amazing device, and we are now in that science fiction world.
I think Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek, was a change agent because, with his imagination, he visualized the future and made that a goal, a benchmark. And other change agents, like the inventors the engineers, the scientists, the technicians, took that as a goal to strive for, and they with their genius, made that a reality.
Ken Smith is a Seattle writer, musician, and producer.