Auditioning is certainly not fun and games — as George Takei tells Neil deGrasse Tyson in this clip from the first episode of Nat Geo’s new TV show StarTalk.
Here, Takei talks about reading for Gene Roddenberry, who mispronounced his last name as “Ta-Kai” upon meeting him. Takei (pronounced “Ta-Kay”) quickly made light of the situation — “I don’t object to ‘kai,’ because that’s a Japanese word that means expensive.” And the rest, we know, is Star Trek history as Takei was cast as Sulu.
Takei also points out the larger cultural importance of Star Trek: “Star Trek was more…he [Roddenberry] felt that TV, certainly needs to entertain, but it also needs to inform and inspire,” he says, also pointing out that not that many minorities were being cast at the time.
The first TV episode of StarTalk premieres Monday, April 20, at 11 p.m. ET/PT on the Nat Geo Channel, and the theme is, you guessed it, Star Trek.