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Exclusive: George Takei Talks ‘Captain Sulu’ Series Idea, Trump And More At ‘New Frontiers’ Opening

Over the weekend the Japanese American Museum unveiled their new exhibit about the life of actor and activist George Takei. The original Sulu was on hand for the event and so was TrekMovie.com. We talked with Takei, took a lot of pictures of the exhibit, and got a video of Takei’s opening night speech.

George Takei Museum Exhibit Opens In Los Angeles

On Sunday, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles launched a new exhibit titled “New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei.” The JANM is very near and dear to Takei, who is a major donor and sits on its board of trustees. It also is where he and his husband Brad were married in 2008.

Japanese American National Museum opening 'New Frontiers' exhibit all about George Takei

Japanese American National Museum opening ‘New Frontiers’ exhibit all about George Takei

The new exhibit, open through August 20th, explores Takei’s life and career as an actor, activist, and social media icon. A curated selection of artifacts from Takei’s diverse experiences and achievements tells a story about the social history of America during his almost 80-year life.

 George Takei speaking at the opening of the 'New Frontiers' Exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles on Saturday

George Takei speaking at the opening of the ‘New Frontiers’ Exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles on Saturday

Interview: Takei on ‘Captain Sulu’ Star Trek series idea following Star Trek VI

On Saturday there was a gala event to open the exhibition. After Takei’s speech (which you can see below) TrekMovie had a brief moment to talk to him about the exhibit, Star Trek, and some more recent projects.

TrekMovie: You saw the display of your [Star Trek VI] captain’s chair and table and teacup, how did that make you feel?

George Takei: Nostalgic.

TM: Weren’t you trying to get a Captain Sulu show going? Weren’t you pitching that some time ago?

GT: I thought that was obvious from the way Star Trek VI ended. And the fans. I wasn’t pitching it; the fans were bombarding with a tidal wave of emails. But Paramount, they don’t hear.

TM: What would a Captain Sulu show be like? What kinds of stories did you envision?

GT: I am a hired actor. It’s up to the studio to determine how it’s going to be.

Takei sits in replica of his Star Trek VI captain's chair - complete with tea cup and table

Takei sits in replica of his Star Trek VI captain’s chair, complete with tea cup and table

Takei on lunch with Trump and Allegiance tour

TM: We saw the Celebrity Apprentice autographed photo in the exhibit. What was it like working with Donald Trump?

GT: We were doing a press conference to promote the show. I knew Donald Trump had a position against marriage equality. That was an issue that I had been campaigning on. So with all the press there I thought I would get him on record. As a press conference was winding down I said, “Mr. Trump, I’d like to host you to lunch so that we can discuss marriage equality,” fully expecting him to demur, perhaps saying he had a full schedule and didn’t have the time. But, he surprised me. He said, “That might be interesting. I might learn something from you. So yeah, you’re on. Have your people call my people.” It took a long time, about three months, but we finally had that lunch. The first thing he said to me was, “You know what, George? I went to a friend’s gay wedding. It was beautiful. You gays do everything with such good taste.” [laughs] “You gays.”

Takei also confirmed that he is planning on taking his Broadway musical Allegiance on the road, noting it was his legacy. The tour will be doing shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and possibly Portland. There will be a new touring cast. but when asked if he will reprise his Broadway role he said yes, adding, “I said it’s my legacy!”

For now Takei said he was returning to New York this week to resume rehearsals for his starring role in the off-Broadway revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Pacific Overtures.” The play opens April 5th and tickets are on sale now at classicstage.org.

Costumes from Takei's Broadway musical "Allegiance" - on display at the Japanese American National Museum

Costumes from Takei’s Broadway musical “Allegiance” on display at the Japanese American National Museum

Photos from the Takei exhibit

Takei’s  Star Trek career:

 Takei’s career outside of Trek:

Takei’s life and advocacy:

Video of Takei’s speech

Watch George Takei’s opening speech in its entirety:

For more on the “New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei” exhibit, visit the Japanese American National Museum website.

 

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106 Comments on "Exclusive: George Takei Talks ‘Captain Sulu’ Series Idea, Trump And More At ‘New Frontiers’ Opening"

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Anything has got to be better than the Discovery debacle

Stop bloody whining

What you say?

What debacle? We haven’t even seen clues yet and I’d watch Jason Isaacs read a phone book.

@Cap – really, when did you get to watch Discovery? (also, judging by the Sulu episode of Voyager, I beg to differ)

Come on, it’s a TOS fanboy series aimed at a wider audience, created by a TOS fanboy who got fired for making it too much “star trek”.
And a prequel, which is scraping the bottom of someone else’s barrel of blood wine.

Are we really calling this a prequel? The last Star Trek series was set 100 years before Discovery. So many times this is forgotten.

Some people confuse “going forward” creatively as meaning “must advance time beyond latest time period shown”. Its really rather simplistic and moronic but thats how some people.

Quality story telling doesnt reply on a time. But different eras have different gold to mine.

The benefit to post-nemesis is they could create all new designs for everything and really flex their creative muscle with advanced tech etc. The draw back is that it gets further and further away from “today” and becomes more fantasy then reality.

The benefit to an “inter-time” period (ie. somewhere within the canon between Enterprise and Nemesis) is being focused on the story telling by the canon. No less creative. In fact I’d argue more creative because you DO have limitations and parameters to operate within. The draw back being you have to be committed to respecting canon.

TUP,

Re: Some people confuse “going forward” creatively…

You sure got that right. The success of the KING KONG tentpole franchise must give the holders of this absolute chronological belief NOMAD type meltdowns.

TUP,

Re: Quality story telling doesnt reply on a time. But different eras have different gold to mine.

https://web.archive.org/web/20071103214151/http://www.syfyportal.com/news423391.html

“It would not have been easier for me. The whole delight and challenge of doing this, the reason I did it, was because I was bound and determined to write a tale that was completely faithful to the canon, and more importantly, to the spirit of Star Trek.

In spite of the shortcomings in ‘Enterprise’ — which were substantial — the canon was rich enough to provide clues that make filling that gap in the tale challenging, yes, but possible to do.” – Erik Jendresen, screenwriter STAR TREK:THE BEGINNING

Calling it Enterprise’s sequel is even worse!

Cap, I sometimes why people like you even bother to watch Star Trek. You’re clearly too miserable to be a fan of it.

I’ve been a die hard fan since I was a boy. Not of TOS though, can’t stand it for more than 20 minutes before it becomes a bore. Likely the reason it was cancelled in the first place. Same goes for Enterprise. The entire concept here is the issue. When the viewer, even a casual one, knows more than the main characters in virtually every episode, things begin to break down. The creators of Enterprise thought people would like to see a prequel, but when the ratings started to plummet they realised that they had no way of placing the crew, or earth, or just about anything in to the show with any degree of urgency or peril. So then they have to invent plot devices like the temporal cold war which attempted to bypass the “we know it turns out OK in the end”. That plot device lasted an entire season by which point it was due to be cancelled. They eventually managed to get a season four on a reduced budget, but it was again useless, figures dropped no season 5, and worse still the whole franchise was shut down for a decade. Here we are again, about to do the same thing, even more limited with only a dozen episodes, CBS Exec firing Fullar for making it “too star trek”, and in the background of a failed 3rd movie, which by the way is a prequel, following the complete fail of “into darkness”. Yet, there are people… Read more »

*divided, not decided.

@CAp – you lost me at blaming the concept of Enterprise. The concept was fine. The execution was bad.

While I would agree that the Sulu episode of Voyager was terrible, and in fact, I consider it the worst of the 700 episodes of Star Trek, I don’t blame Takei for that. I blame the writers. In the right hands, I think a Sulu series would have been fine. But to be honest, in recent times, Takei has turned me off so much that I don’t know if I would care.

You sure aren’t!

Debacle, eh? It’s got a great cast, is being worked on by some established Trek luminaries, and is going to debut on a platform where its success will be measured by the actual dollars-and-cents reaction of the fans.

We’ve got very different definitions of “debacle.”

Yeah, Batman V Superman had a good cast too. And Suicide squad, and Ghostbusters 2016.

If you haven’t yet grasped the concept of the intended audience rejecting it before it hits the screen, you will wind up very disappointed, and probably will blame the very people who have spent months trying to snap you out of your delusion for it’s downfall.

I think you’ll only concede when it’s cancelled. Well done for being impartial.

Folks, Cap is not someone to take seriously. He’s damaged.

He just wanted to sound like that kid from “Trekkies.”

Gabe Köerner? He’s a friend on facebook http://www.facebook.com/gabekoerner
He’s not got anything good to say about this either, and he worked on both Enterprise’s final episode and BSG.
The assumption that people are talking out of their backsides, when in fact some of us know a good deal more of what’s going on behind the scenes, and it’s not pretty. Moonves’s meddling and micromanaging is why Bryan left, and why the whole VFX team were replaced. The Discovery had at least got it’s grey colour back before they left, but that was before the layoff, so it’s anyone’s guess what state it’s at right now. I’ve only seen a panel schematic from the bridge, but it doesn’t look like much has changed, and you’re essentially getting interiors that look like the Kelvin, so good luck TOS fans.

What else you got, smart ass?

@Cap – you could be right but the “im an insider” routine to justify you’re random snark and negativity is transparent. If Discovery is good you will either disappear or pretend its bad.

I’m sorry you feel that way.

How are a few delays a “debacle”?

Bryan left as Moonves was meddling, then he layed off the entire VFX team. The date has been pushed back as pretty much everything Moonves wanted to have changed was done, producers be damned. I look forward to this Guardians Of The Galaxy TV series..

Can’t wait until it actually premieres so we can look forward to more of your petulant whining.

That would require intelligence and common sense. Cap reminds me of The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy.

Such needless melodrama in that one. He’s a big joke.

There is no Discovery debacle since the show hasn’t aired yet. Grow up.

I want a show on the Pakleds.

How about a “Retired Admiral Sulu” series, where each episode starts off with him by the fireside, with that teacup, saying “did I ever tell you about the time…?”

…and ends with him saying something like “of course, it didn’t turn out so well for the Denebian slime devil! HA! HA! HA! HA!” (mix to jaunty end theme and credits).

Too good Homand! LOL! It freeze frames on his laugh as the credits roll so fast that you can’t read them. LOL.

Sorry I obviously meant Nomad.

Ha! Yes, perfect. :-)

Oh myyyyy!

Cut to John Cho doing something heroic. :-)

How about a series taking place in a retirement home where Sulu is the Captain, and others are his ‘senior’ officers? :)

Winner!

How about a 30 minute comedy set in today with Takei playing himself in a nursing home where he thinks he’s Captain of the Excelsior and he leads his fellow senior citizen’s on missions to save the galaxy.

“Star Trek: The Framing Sequences”

Was he in a mood? Those were some pretty lame answers about the Sulu series. “Wasnt me, it was the fans.” Ummmm yeah sure. “Im just an actor and do what Im told”, unless you’re William Shatner, then you have the power to screw everyone out of better gigs.

Its a worthy cause and Im sure its interesting but there is no one Im more tired of seeing & hearing in Star Trek then George Takei.

He never had the charisma to be a lead character. Never. Not for one minute. He should be grateful for what he had. And shut the hell up.

I tend to agree. its sad that some of the supporting actors felt they were more than that but they really werent. Rather then be critical of Shatner they should have been sending him a flower arrangement every time he was willing to get back in the Captain’s chair because it meant they got another paycheque.

If Shatner was the jerk Sulu claims, he would have had Takei fired as condition of his returning, which he obviously never did even when Sulu was openly a jerk. he even allowed him to appear at his Roast. Shatner is very gracious.

Sulu is someone who lucked into the role of a lifetime which allowed him a wealthy life. And good of him to donate his money and time. But his whining really soured me on him as a person. Unfortunately his Hollywood legacy will be much about his complaining.

Sulu was cool in Star Trek films. And his role as Captain in TUC was great. But boy they got a lot out of him that clearly wasnt there when he did Voyager. THAT Sulu would have been a dreadful weekly lead.

Some very good points. Also of note is how Shatner made certain each supporting character (Scotty, Uhura, Sulu and Chekov) had some important scenes when he directed TFF. These characters were never showcased this way in any of the other films. He never seems to get much credit for doing that. Maybe not so much a bad guy after all!

I have to disagree with you somewhat there. I think The Voyage Home is where all the other characters had a lot of important scenes and really utilized. They were all kind of given their own missions which seems kind of trivial for most Trek casts today but for them that was the first time those characters added directly to the story and not just play back up.

But yes I agree they had roles to play in TFF too just not at the level as TVH IMO. But yes I will say overall they had more to do in the last 3 films than the first three and most of TOS. Especially Takei in TUC obviously.

Yes of course you are right about Voyage Home but what I meant to point out was that in Final Frontier each of these characters was the exclusive focal point at various times during the story. I just think it’s unfortunate that so many cast members have had various phases of bitterness throughtout the years. And when he finally got the chance to direct Mr Shatner made it a point to include everyone in the fun when he could very easily have made himself the absolute and total star. And it is a bit unfortunate that Mr. Takei seems so bitter about so many things. I hope at some point he can reflect on his significant contributions to Trek and with that find some happiness.

This was due to Leonard Nimoys efforts in Star Trek IV.
Also, to a lesser extent, in The Search For Spock.
“Don’t call me Tiny.”
Uhuras scene in the Transporter room, as well.

Sort of a mix in my opinion. Shatner understood that Star Trek was not really an ensemble, it was about the three leads and he framed his story about them and their relationship.

But he made sure to include some B level stories for the others that I think were appropriate. Chekov/Sulu friendship. The Uhura/Scotty thing was weird but probably done to get them both screentime and hint at a deeper story without really having to explore it. It also showed us that while everyone was on Vacation, Scotty’s idea of Vacation was fixing the ship and showed us that Uhura had a big heart to look after Scotty. It presented her as sort of the mother of the crew which, as the only woman, was a reasonable take.

If the roles were small, Shatner seemed to understand how to use them. Scotty as the hero who breaks them out of jail, that sort of thing.

Probably partly true.
I suspect the actors also had input and some demands over the script.
It’s routine for Star Trek actors to receive equal exposure, especially at the end of the film.
The end scene of First Contact is a great example of this.

We may be a little harsh on the Voyager episode with Takei.
Filming a movie has much more relaxed pace vs filming a TV series.
They would have zero rehearsal time to shoot the TV episode.
I’m sure Nick Meyer gave better direction, and allowed for multiple takes.
A TV director, and director of photography are sometimes of a different caliber vs their movie counterparts.
If they were behind schedule, the 1st Assistant Director would have rushed them along.
Filming in 4X3 vs 16X9 also presents challenges in lighting, camera angles and movement.
They may not have had a complete set to work with either.
How the episode was edited can make a huge impact as well.
Yes, Takei and crew were HORRIBLE on that Voyager episode.
I think blame should be spread around evenly over the production.

I totally agree. I can’t see him carrying a series on his own. Maybe in a Discovery sort of way, where the captain appears to be of less focus, and the real focus is a first officer or something. But Capt. sulu was never going to work in a traditional way. That’s the only reason I can deal with DS9, as I don’t have to watch Sisko chew the scenery all the time.

Absolutely. I tire of his whining.

Takei should NEVER shut the hell up, if only to continue to annoy people like you.

I could not agree more. I would have taken a solo Scottie series before anything starring that bland third banana.

Ricardo, you made me shutter at the thought of a solo Scotty series. As fun as he is, I had my fill especially after Relics…

I agree.

myofb dog,

Re:He should be grateful for what he had.

I think he’s more grateful for what he has:

http://fortune.com/2016/07/21/star-trek-beyond-net-worth/

William Shatner, $100 million

Majel Barrett, $60 million-plus

Leonard Nimoy, $45 million

George Takei, $12 million

Nichelle Nichols, $8 million

Walter Koenig, $8 million

James Doohan, $7 million

DeForest Kelley, $5 million

I would have welcomed an Excelsior series if only because the 23rd century had so much story potential vs the boring TNG 24th.

That I can agree with. There was potential for so many interesting stories. DS9 is proof, their stories really were able to take off once wars started. If done right, Sulu could’ve been interesting. He could grow as a character when seeing that being Captain is tougher than it looks. You’d get a young Tuvok, you’d get this new-ish powerful ship, lots of unexplored space, the dawning of peace between the Klingons and the remnants of those stuck in the mind-set of war. Spy stories, a few battles, diplomacy, exploration, there’s so much to be done in that era…

I think that Animated Series cell of Sulu looks like the animated Kirk with different hair.

Wow how did he get through that whole thing and not make one dig at Shatner? I guess he was in a good mood.

Trump is his new arch enemy.

Doesn’t sound like that from the interview.

Go on his twitter account…

Then he’s pretty un-self-aware, as may be expected.

Sulu could be a compelling character again if he has something to do and has some good writing behind him.
George Takei is a fine actor. He’s also a very funny and interesting person in real life. Sure, I get tired of the Shatner bashing, but it gets his name and Bill’s in the paper and at this point in their lives, I’m sure neither one is against that.

Takei always did a great job with whatever they gave him to play; I was sorry he didn’t get more screen time. I thought Walter Koenig was not a very good actor, and it’s always seemed to me that it was a shame that Chekov got more screen time (in the series) than Sulu, given that Takei could act rings around Koenig. But they were going for a Beatles/Monkees look, to try to attract younger viewers, so the producers never seemed to actually care that Koenig isn’t much of an actor or that Takei was a good one.

…I think Walter’s only acting assignment on the show was to act cute and appeal to the young girls watching. I think he did a good job of that.
…George rarely got a chance on the show to show his acting chops. “The Naked Time”, “Mirror, Mirror” and that’s about it…
The show was about the big 3 and the features were too…but George at least finally had something to do in “Star Trek VI” and he did a great job with it too.

Hew as good in TUC. Creatively it was weird though. Why was the entire Enterprise crew retiring at the same time, but Sulu wasnt. Seemed weird. Is there some navel tradition where the senior officers all retire together?

Yep! Takei is amazing! I’ve seen his early pre-ST roles and many of his his non-ST roles as well, and he’s an actor to be respected in and out of Trek, much more than many in this crowd are willing to respect him. Too many whiners and homophobes methinks.

George Takei was the one Star Trek personality I met in person. It was at a Trek convention in Detroit Michigan at what was then called the “Renaissance Center”. It was 1986 and Voyage Home had just come out and there was talk of this new Star Trek show that would be coming out the following year called “The Next Generation.”

Anyway I got an autograph and shook his hand and he invited myself and my cousin to go jogging with him on the Ambassador Bridge. We didn’t go but we saw the news the next day with him jogging with hundreds of people. I wish I still had that autographed picture. I’m not sure what ever happened to it.

Great article! George is such a great guy. He is probably the most generous actor that I’ve ever met. I admire his activism.

He’s a far left liberal lunatic.

He has completely gone off the deepend that is for sure. He is a washed out very bitter man.

After seeing George’s Facebook Page with all of the nasty politics and horrible comments that he never cleans up, he can have his Sulu series. Which by the way has NO chance of happening.

How did I know that Trump would come up? Trump lives in his head.

Could be, it’s one of the few places his tiny hands would fit.

Yeah Takei’s brain is pretty damn small.

Hold on to your teacup

Headline should read: “Wealthy actor donates to museum, so they make an exhibit to feed his massive ego.”
Sulu was okay, but I got tired of Takei, oh maybe some time in the ’90’s. I can see by other comments here that I’m not alone.

That’s a little harsh. I think he’s probably one of the more successful or best-known Japanese-American actors, after Pat Morita.

Wow Binyamin, what a distinction.

Ted C
Duh, it’s the Japanese American Museum. I think they might be interested in Japanese American actors. Also Japanese American ballplayers, businesspeople, politicians, etc. It’s not just about internees.

Binyamin,

Do you not know anything of history? The internees included Japanese American actors, ballplayers, business people, politicians, etc.

Sadly he appears to be profoundly unhappy, It is unfortunate he can’t see how lucky he has been to have been a part of something so phenominal as Trek.

I liked Takei for what he did as Sulu but now we have John Cho so we don’t need him for that anymore lol. As for a human being he is a bitter man who has let himself be dominated by petty crap.

Wow, a modest actor! “I think it would have been a good idea, but I’m just an actor; it’s up to the studio to decide where it would have gone.”

And that line is *so* Trump. :-)

Mr. Takei has become such a far left unhinged lunatic I can no longer stand to hear what he has to say. I can’t understand why he is given so much media attention.

Can’t say I disagree to that…

Yeah, I used to be a fan, but got so tired of the Shatner bashing (non-stop) and now the Trump bashing. I would never, ever support anything this washed-up minor bit player is involved in.

Yeah go on Shatners twitter and then go on Takeis its like “Light vs Night” Shatner laughing and talking about his latest favorite show or jabbing at Supernatural actors. Takei his twitter is filled with hate and bigotry and low swipes some even with out any intelligence at Trump hour after hour after hour…

Seems we think alike. Takei has really soured. I thank God he was rebooted as John Cho :)

Short of an actual reboot of the Big Bang, it ain’t happening, George. In fact, it’s kind of funny you think it’s still a possibility.

“TM: What would a Captain Sulu show be like? What kinds of stories did you envision?

GT: I am a hired actor. It’s up to the studio to determine how it’s going to be.”

And that is why there was no Captain Sulu show. Someone has to sell the studio on it. A bunch of emails (which was a fraction of the TOS letter writers) – isn’t going to get the studio to spend millions on a new show.

Especially when the supposed star of the show just used every forum to b**ch about his screen time and the star of the last show he was on. And if I recall in the late 80s he was also griping about the Next Generation. Yeah, Paramount was going to hop on board for that.

marty,

Re: …b**ch about his screen time and the star of the last show he was on.

The last show Takei was on was HEROES. What did he say about THAT show’s star?

Incoming message from Captain Lorca of the Starship Discovery:

https://twitter.com/jasonsfolly?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Nice! Also love what “jasonsfolly” has to say on his Twitter re: “Pres. Orangey”! :)

Anyone here know what chairs were usernames for Sulu and Kirk’s chairs in TUC? I’ve always loved those designs. Would love to have my own.

Anyone follow Takei on Twitter? The man has become completely unhinged. Every day every hour is another swipe at his old adversary…. Donald Trump yeah you thought I was going to say William Shatner but no this man has found his whale and this Moby Dick will go down with his ship to destroy Trump at any cost to his own sanity.

I’d say the same is true for anyone on Trump’s enemies list from reading his Twitter log. Two old farts screaming at the kids to get off their lawn via twitter. SAD!

Trump and Sanity have never met. :)

“I am a hired actor. It’s up to the studio to determine how it’s going to be.” Tell that to Leonard Nimoy or even William Shatner. That’s why you didn’t get a Captain Sulu series.

Bless your bones George, but 77 is not a good age for a dynamic Starship Captain, regardless of health or physical shape. The mortality tables simply work too much against us my friend.

Bob Tompkins,

Re: The mortality tables simply work too much against us

May I ask, how you determined those 23rd century mortality tables?

Even in this century, mortality tables seem to not have had any bearing on Betty White’s dynamic employment after age 77.

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