George Takei On Turning Down “Generations” + Supports Fan Campaign To Get On SNL

mccoyStar Trek’s original Sulu George Takei has never been shy about his ambitions for Sulu over the years. In a new interview, Takei talks about some of the lost opportunities with Sulu, how he turned down a role in Generations and how he fully supports a campaign to get him onto SNL.


George on his no to Generations and yes to SNL

Takei on "lost opportunities" with Sulu

I suggested Sulu having a family that he connects with. I suggested a lot of ideas to develop Sulu that never really happened. It was only after I turned down a role in Star Trek 7 (Generations) that they gave all my lines to a relative that I had lobbied for, my daughter. When the series ended and the films began I was lobbying for parents, brothers, sisters, lovers, maybe a wife, all of that, but none of it ever happened. I wanted to see Sulu more dimension-ed, but that’s not news, I’m sure.

Jacqueline Kim as Demora Sulu in "Star Trek: Generations" – the daughter Takei lobbied for Sulu

Takei on being the "next Betty White" and fan campaign get him onto Saturday Night Live:

Very interested. I’m supportive of the campaign. These things just mushroom up. I have nothing to do with it. The fans took the initiative on it and I hope something comes of it, actually. I think it’d be a hoot.

For more from Takei on his latest projects and more, go to

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Well played, Mr. Takei. Though brief, it was nice to see Sulu’s daughter at the helm of the Enterprise B. Star Trek Phase II gave Sulu quite a bit of dimension in “World Enough and Time”.

I liked the book “The Captain’s daughter by Peter David. Gave Sulu some much needed depth. Too bad they never went with a Sulu TV series.

I still wish they had done a spin-off series of Sulu on the Excelsior.

I was just watching Star Trek VI yesterday, and the setup at the end of the movie for a Sulu series was obvious. I am disappointed that it never happened, but I am very pleased that the character was finally given some star treatment in “World Enough and Time.”

Don’t get me wrong; I think George Takei is a great guy all around, and he’s got that cult-following thing growing like Betty White has right now…

…but he does NOT need to be on SNL.

Can’t we just let these actors we think are hip and cool just continue to be hip and cool, rather than thrusting them into the spotlight so mainstream media can take their popularity and drill it into the dirt like they’re doing with the whole Betty White thing? We’ve got people trying to shoehorn her into everything now, from reality shows to the last Twilight movie, and it’s just ridiculous.

ooooooooooo…Betty White in Twilight…..

It’s unfortunate Takai never comprehended the fact he was a supporting player in Star Trek. He wonders why all his suggestions to give Sulu all these lines, star vehicles, back story etc were rejected? Because you were a supporting player!

Funny how he never talks about his desire for Scotty, Uhura, Chekov to get more “dimension-ed”.

It’s unfortunate Takai never comprehended the fact he was a supporting player in Star Trek. He wonders why all his suggestions to give Sulu all these lines, star vehicles, back story etc were rejected? Because you were a supporting player!

Funny how he never talks about his desire for Scotty, Uhura, Chekov to get more “dimension-ed”. This guy’s ego would humble Bill Shatner

The Unknown Poster

Agreed. TOS wasn’t an ensemble show. Takei’s obsession with Shatner seems to stem from his lack of comprehension of this. Kirk got a son, Spock a protogee, but even Bones never got any scenes with his family beyond a dream about his Dad! There wasn’t time to turn the film series into a sprawling soap opera!

The KSM team are the primary characters in Trek. Sulu appeared in about two thirds of the original series, so he’s hardly the most prolific or important character in the franchise.

How he must have seethed the night after the scene ins STIV with Sulu’s however-many-times-great grandfather fell through!

Both takei and shatner are real missing me off shatner keeps going on about the new trek movies and the move he dose the less I want to listen to him and takei do all of us fav and change your ranting pls I mean it as there is just three things you talku about 1-you hate shatner 2-captain sulu(not going to happened ) and 3 your gay and ?like everyone who visit this website I’m a trekie which means your gayness is something I don’t need to worry about and I’m glad your able to live your life the way you want to great but do you here the rest of the cast go about liking the opposites sex no so please Change the recording before I can’t be bothered to listen any more

Honestly, the supporting charcters are just that – supporting. Aside from Scotty, the other 3+ are nice to haves but hardly essential to anything.

Takei needs to realize that and just be thankful for making a bunch of money of this for 40 years.

He was off shooting the Green Berets for half of Trek’s original run for crying out loud. I’m sure most of America (the world) wouldn’t even recognize the guy. And I sure don’t need to see him on SNL…

If any of the supporting characters was even remotely set up to have more backstory, it was Scotty. I was always a bit disappointed that the “take charge” Scotty from the series was relegated to “stuck in engineering” Scotty in the films.

It also didn’t make much sense that Sulu was promoted and pursuing his career while Chekov and Uhura retired…weird.

wow JKP… how very RACIST of you… anyway, Takei’s enjoy the moment while it lasts, like all B-celebrities…

More power to Takei, even though it is unlikely that he would be called upon to head up a Trek series at his age, and for other reasons having to do with culture.

I see nothing wrong with his lobbying for an appearance on SNL, as long as he doesn’t do anything to sully the character of Sulu.

Bones or Scotty could have used a backstory. We didn’t find out until TAS that McCoy was divorced. (I suppose it was in some of the books, but not in TOS.)

That said, TOS was the Kirk and Spock in Space show. McCoy was a lucky addition. The others were supporting characters. As one columnist put it, if the actors felt under-used they should “thank their lucky stars” they weren’t cast in “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.”

If TOS were made today, it would be more of an ensemble show with Kirk and Spock as “anchors” rather than the leads. But, that’s not what happened. So… ya know!

We’re not going to have Mr. Takei or Mr. Shatner around for too many more years, so I wish people could enjoy them, warts and all, while they’re still alive and kicking. We’re going to miss them someday.

see you in vegas george i think a sulu series would be cool

I also watched Star Trek VI the other day, and would have really enjoyed a Sulu series, especially after reading the novel Forged in Fire. Excellent book on how Sulu gained command of Excelsior and ties in stories from Enterprise, TOS, TNG, and DS9.

Sad how immature people can be about Takei, and Takei and Shatner. People don’t realize that by putting down Takei they are really just showing how petty people can be, and how some people are drawn to conflict like moths to a flame.

#16 is right. In a short time these actors will not be with us, and you guys can remember that you denigrated them. Quite the accomplishment.

@Pensive’s Wetness:
“The Green Berets” is the name of a movie that Takei acted in.

16. Hear, hear.

Although I guess years of fan adoration at conventions would, er, warp your perspective a little bit. I’m sure a lot of fans wanted to know a heck of a lot more about Sulu, as did Mr. Takei, a la later Trek series that, arguably, gave individual bridge crew members a lot more play (sometimes in excruciating detail — note Bev Crusher’s various doomed alien romances).

And even for a supporting player, Sulu got a decent bit of fleshing out (fencing, d’artagnan, botany)… especially for a series of stand-alone episodes that didn’t really give much of a backstory to anyone (except Spock’s 2 Vulcan episodes) unless a plot required it (old flame, dead brother, old academy nemesis). Personally, I liked that there we weren’t bogged down in personal details. And I think a big part of the characters appeal is that Takei made him likeable, interesting and compelling — he had a way with the few lines he had (TNG had a few regular crew members who appeared in a lot of episodes and had lines and names, but, other than O’Brien, I can’t remember any of them).

George Takei is a great guy and I wish him well. While I’ve yet to actually meet him, he did return my splay-fingered Vulcan salute during a Nissei festival parade in Los Angeles once. It was a fun moment.

It seems to me the Sulu character was best served in the New Voyages fan film, “World Enough and Time.” Takei got to play Sulu as half-crazed barbarian, protective father, tender family man, and even (in the coda) a loving grandfather. It was a beautiful role for both actor and character, and Takei played it pitch-perfect. To quote Scotty in Generations, “brought a tear to my eye…”

I haven’t watched (or cared for) SNL for many years, but I would gladly tune back in and watch for a George Takei hosted episode.

Sulu was not a character that needed more depth. As a secondary character great but not enough people would have tuned in for a Sulu tv show.

The main interest was in Shatner, Nimoy and Kelly’s characters. And further development with precious screen time needed to go to them.

I agree that George Takei played a supporting character. An important one, but one among others that was not developed to any great extent. I do not believe a Sulu series would have lasted. There just was no clamoring in the public for more Sulu, and Paramount probably realized this. He was not a critical character like Kirk, Spock and McCoy. If he wasn’t in an episode, he was not missed. In Star Trek: Generations he was given a daughter, which I thought was a nice touch. He was also finally given his own command. He got some of what he wanted. The novels also gave him more backstory, which as an all around fan I am happy about.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ragging on Takei, just being realistic about his character on screen and why a Sulu series would not have been a hit. He seems like a good guy, and I am glad he is so enthusiastic about being involved with Star Trek.

FWIW, they *did* write an episode where McCoy’s daughter, Joanna, was going to come aboard the Enterprise – and Kirk was going to get into a relationship with her, which was going to cause some interesting reactions from the good Doctor.

However, the third-season producer, Fred Freiberger, decided that McCoy was too much Kirk’s peer to have a grown daughter, and they changed the script to “The Way to Eden” and turned McCoy’s daughter into Chekov’s old Starfleet Academy girlfriend, Irina Galliulin.

Lost a little bit in the transition, I’d say.

George Takei was great as Hiro’s father in Heroes, though I have to admit I have a soft spot for seeing all the TOS actors. But he had a certain nobility and presence in Heroes and showed just how good an actor Takei is.

George’s name showed up in the end credits of TOS, if it was there at all. Apparently he hasn’t watched the episodes in awhile.

19. GarySeven

I think ‘petty’ and ‘immature’ pretty much define Takei’s behaviour in recent years. The man’s made a career out of slagging off the lead actor of a series he played a bit part in forty years ago. It’s pretty sad!

13. Pensive’s Wetness

Really, do check your facts before you start throwing around potentially libellous remarks about fellow posters! We’re a broad, friendly church here!

Takei’s extended absence from TOS season two, shooting Green Berets, is well documented and was one of the factors in Walter Koenig’s role becoming so substantial. Takei appeared in somewhere between 40-45 episodes of Star Trek, well below that of many of his compadres. Until they were pressured to, the makers of the cartoon series weren’t even going to use him to voice Sulu. He’s blown his importance to Trek well out of proportion.

Indeed, the biggest failing with the original series of films is that, post-TWOK, they should have built up the roles of the younger characters like Saavik to succeed the old crew. Chekov was already the Reliant’s first officer and could have moved on, Sulu should have transferred off to the Excelsior and some new characters should have been introduced to fill their roles. Thing is, promotion means your character leaves the film series. You have to pick one or the other and you can’t carp about it otherwise. Face it, most, in not all of Sulu’s scenes in STVI were completely superfluous!

Takei’s a really nice guy (met him several times), but he still doesn’t get that he has neither the talent nor the range to “carry” either a feature film or a TV series. You’re a character actor, George, and you’ve wasted a lot of time pining over what Sulu could have/should have done when you could have been sinking your teeth into other roles/ideas.

Nothing wrong with trying to expand the sulu character.
If fans or media keep approaching him, they want him to talk trek so he does.
I don’t think George is pushy about sulu, he’s just giving us what we want to hear.

Sulu was never that popular a character to carry on a series. Why doesn’t George understand that?

Stop whining about spilled milk! It was 4 movies ago!

@Pensive’s Wetness:
Quite crying racist you moron….JKP posted nothing of the sort.

@Pensive Wetness… What on Earth are you talking about? He made no such racist comments. You are wet behind the ears or what?

Maybe he constantly talks about the same thing because he’s constantly asked the same questions! Sure he was a supporting actor and he was never in a million years going to get the development he wanted for his character but you can’t blame the guy for trying. Personally, I think it was a missed opportunity not to have made a Sulu series but for the most part I’m happy with the spin off series we got. DS9 I absolutely love and the same goes for Enterprise once it got going after season 2.

Could someone explain to me what I said that’s even remotely racist?

My point is Takei was more into acting in a John Wayne movie than doing TOS, but now he’s supposed to get something close to equal billing? While he was gone anyone else could have been the helmsman… Oh wait! They were.

Ditto Uhura and Chekov (who wasn’t around for season one’s great episodes at all). Anyone could navigate or open hailing frequencies. Scotty was 3rd in command and a much more prominent character than any of the other supporting characters.

Thus, I’d like more KSM, throw in some TOS-style Scotty and I don’t need the rest that much at all. They’re like Chapel and Rand to me. Nice and familiar, but hardly relevant.

Takei was lucky to be taken along for the ride and he shouldn’t overestimate his relevance.

remember the Voyager ep with Sulu in it.
The acting was mediocre at best and it killed the Excelsior chance at the franchise.

I always thought the Sulu idea was fun. He was a good as a captain.

It seems not many caught his incredible work in Star Trek New Voyages’ “World Enough and Time”; I don’t care whether it was ‘official’ Trek or not; Takei did some damn fine acting in that one.

And he was also magnificent as Lt Tanaka in “Return to the River Kwai” from 1989. Some might do well to see more of his work before dismissing him as talentless or a ‘bit player.’ I don’t know whether a Sulu series would’ve flown or not, but I think he would do well to get himself a sitcom. He has wonderful comedic timing and energy.

He got to play with a chopper in TVH didn’t he. I’d have thought that would have kept him quiet for days.

@29. Shannon Nutt – August 4, 2010
I completely agree with everything you said!

@38. Sebastian – August 4, 2010
Really? I thought it was pretty stiff, to be honest. Just like in Voyager episode “Flashback” and in Heroes. He’s a good narrator though.

Some of his scenes in Trek VI were good, but others were horrible, not unlike some of the other cast in some of the movies even had a bad take or two make it into one of the finished films. Like Shatner in V awful with those lame humor parts.


I think your reasoning is weak and confused. For example, using your reasoning, THE CAGE shows that anyone can be a starship captain, chief medical officer or engineer too.

I don’t think it would be racist to point out that Roddenberry knew that the average citizen of the most populated country in the world could better identify with a character such as Sulu than the corn fed Kirk.

As impressed as fans are with the 2009 movie, counting every ticket it ever sold, every disc it ever sold and every illegal d/l that was ever made of it summed together and those individuals tallied pales against the population of a planet of 7 billion people. Any studio knows that to maximize profits its franchises have have to do well in markets outside the narrow North American Demographic. I don’t think Paramount is liable to do so with your blinders on.

If the original series had gone for seven 26-episode seasons like the spin-off series, then Sulu would have been much more developed, because the writers would have been desperate to finish enough scripts and in later years there would have been episodes when the lead actors were appearing a bit less because they were taking turns directing or being off on other projects. We learned plenty, maybe more than we want to know, about all the regular characters in the spin-off shows, except for Enterprise because it was cancelled prematurely like the original series.

I agree with a lot of the sentiments here, Takei was a very nice guy when I met him but he really seems not to get it that he was a supporting actor. I would have LOVED a Captain Sulu series. It would have been cool to have a new TOS character series, I liked Sulu and I loved the Excelsior and would have enjoyed watching that ship on TV every week. It would have broken up the monotony of another next gen era series. That said, I really hope that the Voyager Sulu episode was a result of bad directing. I thought he was great in VI but the performances in Voyager were really bad!

On to one point made in the article. Is Takei completely lying??? I thought I read an interview in the Official Fanclub magazine around 1994 or 1995 where he knew nothing about Generations because he wasn’t offered a part in it and that the only thing he knew about it was what he heard from Koenig. Is this totally revisionist history on Takei’s part or am I wrong?

35. JKP: ‘Could someone explain to me what I said that’s even remotely racist?’

I think he thought you were referring to the Japanese being at war with America in the 1940s! He he!

42. Disinvited; ‘I think your reasoning is weak and confused. For example, using your reasoning, THE CAGE shows that anyone can be a starship captain, chief medical officer or engineer too.’

I disagree. The jobs you mention happen to be those of the main characters. The navigator, helmsman and comms officers weren’t leads and therefore ‘anyone’ could play them without unbalancing the show.

43. Magic_Al: ‘If the original series had gone for seven 26-episode seasons like the spin-off series, then Sulu would have been much more developed, because the writers would have been desperate to finish enough scripts and in later years there would have been episodes when the lead actors were appearing a bit less because they were taking turns directing or being off on other projects.’

You’re also assuming actors might not have left the show outright. Takei might have been off shooting ‘Which Way to the Front?’ in season four and simply not come back. Leonard Nimoy had been having fights with the execs because he wanted to direct some episodes and might have called it a day and moved over to Mission: Impossible.

David Gerrold’s idea for TNG to be an ensemble show was in part because the cast could be turned over more frequently without harming the show. Indeed, if the cast had been a bit more subject to change, I think it would have been a better show that could have gone on for longer. Of course, by then Trek was also a movie franchise and the casts agents would have been screaming at them to stay with it in the event a movie happened.

Takei is great as Sulu just the way he was, the TOS writers did the character enough justice, of course whilst limited to a supporting role.They even put him as a captain in Voyager. What more could he ask for?


Hmmm…so its your contention that THE CAGE and a good part of the first season fails because the McCoy character hadn’t achieved this “balance” as of yet?

But you are missing my point regardless, i.e. by concentrating solely on a trio that works for a narrow North American Demographic, and regarding characters as “disposable” that could broaden that appeal to a much larger demographic by giving said numbers a way to connect to its franchise: Paramount will fail to maximize Trek profits.

It is interesting that the only market outside the U.S. where the franchise does well is with the U.K. and its former members, and the Scotty character is the only supporting character being touted as “indispensable.”

George just get over it already!

No one cares now. It is not going to happen.


Oh I don’t know, maybe he still has his anime chops. STAR TREK Anime could be a very wise CBS move – or at least something which could be explored without risking too much?


In rereading your response, I think you are misunderstanding that my purpose was solely to defend the Sulu character. Personally, I have held the belief for a long time that any good actor can do any role in STAR TREK justice.

While I don’t have any objection to letting Takei have his shot, neither do I object to a Captain Sulu story without him cast as the lead.