Unlike too many unfortunate sci-fi actors of a forgotten television past, George Takei has successfully reinvented himself, embracing the LGBT community and opening doors that put over a thousand butts in seats just to hear him talk for a while.
At Denver Comic Con today, Takei brought his most soothing and smiling voice, making you wish he’d read bedtime stories to you every night. “Being in front of you fills me with adrenalin,” he told the crowd. Receiving a full standing ovation as he stepped into the room, Takei repeatedly thanked the audience for creating the fan phenomenon that keeps Star Trek alive.
“You didn’t give up,” he said, joking that fans made Star Trek The Motion Picture “a box office success, even though it wasn’t really that terrific of a Star Trek movie.”
Bemused that Star Trek was cancelled after only three years on the air, he said, “The biggest threat weren’t the Klingons. They were the NBC programming executives.” The crowd went wild with cheers.
Takei took some time to thank Gene Roddenberry, dubbing him a great man. “He saw television, and he said, television can be doing much more than what it is doing.” He praised Roddenberry’s vision, and his genius for helping create the possibility of “infinite diversity and infinite combination. That’s what makes this world a stronger world.”
Takei told the gathered he believes we will eventually be a multi-planet species, and marveled at modern tech that was once thought as pure sci-fi, like smart phones and the Curiosity Mars rover.
An environmentally sensitive side of Takei came out when mics were turned on for audience questions. He expressed support for more economical and planet-friendly energy sources, and cutting edge technology like Japan’s magnetic levitation trains. “I earnestly pray for the early development of transporters” he said to huge audience approval.
He said he was dismayed that his recent visit to China revealed rapidly dropping Beijing life expectancies in a landscape of filthy and unbreatheable air due to constant streams of oily black smoke billowing out of factories.
Takei embraced his well-known “Oh my” catch phrase, explaining, “I had no idea it would become my signature until I did the Howard Stern show.” Takei described Stern as “a hero of mine. He breaks many new grounds. I admire someone who believes in what he stands for.”
Takei also spoke fondly of Leonard Nimoy, describing him as a kindred spirit, a fine director and a good cinema artist. He also talked of his positive work experiences with William Shatner’s “metabolism, his rhythm, his excitement about things. Bill is a very gifted actor. He loves his part, and actors should have that kind of connection with their part.”
Another fan question prompted Takei to admit he hasn’t had a chance to see Star Trek Into Darkness. He said he’s been busy on stage with the musical Allegiance, and was proud to announce that the San Diego production of that show has broken a 77-year-old attendance record.
Theater is Takei’s favored acting form, he said, adding he loves the ability to “take a drama from top to bottom during the course of two hours.” He said the immediacy of the live audience, and being able to hear the sniffles and sobs is far more fulfilling. “The downside of the camera is that that wonderful, truthful moment that you made takes months to see. It’s a machine that you’re acting to. Theater is much more fulfilling. You’re dealing with that living, throbbing, wonderful audience.”
George Takei will be back in Denver on October 12 to be honored by the Matthew Shepard Foundation. He praised the foundation for doing good work to promote understanding and equality in our society.