“Most icons are dead or past their prime. I’m still alive. And still very much actively involved.” — George Takei
ISSUE: Summer 2011
STORY: Janice Jann
With a resurgence on film and TV, George Takei may be the next Betty White.
George Takei is not a fan of being called an icon. “I take a little umbrage with that,” says the veteran entertainer. “Most icons are dead or past their prime. I’m still alive. And still very much actively involved.”
Indeed, the Japanese American, who is arguably the most famous Asian American actor in Hollywood,
with an entertainment career that spans more than 50 years, across continents, on the small and large screen and on stage, is nowhere near slowing down.
Though Takei is perhaps best known for playing Hikaru Sulu on the ’60s cult classic Star Trek, the star with the deep-baritone voice continues to shine on screen and on stage to this day. Currently, Takei plays a holographic ancestor called Hologramps on the Nickelodeon comedy Supah Ninjas, a show he says will “bring family viewing back together again.” Takei also makes an appearance this summer in the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts film Larry Crowne, and come 2012, he’ll be on Broadway starring in Allegiance, a musical with Lea Salonga about the Japanese internment during World War II. “It’s a story very close to me,” says Takei. “I lived that life as a child. The parents in the musical are really modeled after my own parents.”
Takei takes the hardships he’s faced in life in stride. Despite the actor’s sometimes stoic reputation, Takei has always been able to combat adversity with a good dose of humor. He’s an outspoken advocate of gay rights (he’s married to long-time partner Brad Altman) and is known for his mock PSAs responding to homo- phobic remarks by public figures. In fact, no one can call this 74-year-old entertainer behind the times in this YouTube age. After his Spider-Man musical spoof video went viral, Takei was dubbed the next Betty White. He’s flattered by the comparison, but what would he rather be called?
“What about George Takei?” he laughs. “I’d like to be that kind of an icon. Working, creative, active and relevant throughout his life.”