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Author Topic: George Takei Interview Transcription (( Don't forget to DIGG this article -K))  (Read 2777 times)

Offline Zach

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(( Don't forget to DIGG this article. Thank you! -Kinneas))

" What we thought would be happening in three hundred years, we made happen in four decades." --George Takei


George Takei:  Hailing Frequencies are open (laughter).

HF Zach: Hailing Frequencies are indeed open.

George Takei:  I love your web site name. Did You come up with it?

HF Zach:  Thank you.  One of our writers had the opportunity to meet you in Las Vegas last year at the Roddenberry nightclub ( edit: It was the invite only, "Roddenberry Revolution" Party at the Beatles Revolution lounge in the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas last year during the Star Trek convention.  Kinneas (Co-Host & co-producer of HF) is the writer Zach is referring to.

George Takei: Oh the party there?

HF Zach:  I think he lined up a photo there where he was kissing your cheek (See Photo:  http://img510.imageshack.us/img510/8277/sulu2rl8.png)

George Takei:  AHahahhaha.  And where are you now?

HFZ: Over in South England. In Essex.

G.T.: Essex. I see. I know where you are then. You must be home by now. It's seven thirty...about....seven forty now, isn't it?

HFZ: Yes, I am at home.

G.T. Good evening I should say. It’s still morning here.

HFZ: O.k. Well then good morning to you.

G.T.: ah hah ha

HFZ: I'd like to say what an honour it is to have you on the show today.

G.T. Well thank you.

HFZ: ...and I think we are going to be talking about the upcoming Blue Ray releases. Season one and the original six movies...

G.T. That’s right.

HFZ: Which are coming out on April twenty seventh I believe.

G.T.: Twenty seventh of April, yes.

HFZ: That’s right. Uh, So, I mean, let’s just start by asking how are you today? You just mentioned its morning. I imagine you're fairly groggy.

G.T. No not at all.  I've gone out for my morning run and had a nice breakfast and ever since then I have been talking to I think half a dozen people. More than half a dozen people from all over the U.K. & Ireland.

HFZ: Excellent. So you’re having a busy morning then.

G.T.: Yes. The last person was from London but I have been speaking to people from Cornwall. As a matter of fact my Fan Club President is in Cornwall and in the same city as a person I talked to. There was another person from Northern Ireland, Belfast & from Birmingham & from Brighton and so you know its standard all over the U.K.

HFZ: Indeed. Yeah.

G.T. And now I'm talking to Essex.

HFZ: I think it’s safe to say that Star Trek has been a huge part of your life now for like forty years since the original series....

GT: Yes. Forty plus.

HFZ: ... Such a very long time. So seeing the time and effort Paramount and CBS are putting into re-boxing, re-mastering & re-releasing the original series and the original movies...how does that make you feel?

GT: Well you know I'm proud of my associations with Star Trek and I am amazed at its longevity but now I've come to the point where I am expecting the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek to be celebrated because I realize now...well...Initially when I started I was just glad to have a job and glad to be playing a strong role in a very intelligent series.  But I have had to think on what it is that has made Star Trek such a long lasting show that continues to find a new  generation of support and find relevance with each generation & I think it’s because of the core philosophy Gene Roddenberry had and the core values that he brought to the series.

We were looking at the twenty third century in the twentieth century, so that’s three hundred years ahead with optimism and confidence in our problem solving capabilities and our genius for invention and innovation.  This, at a time when America certainly was in great turmoil - We had the Civil Rights Movement & racial strife and conflict exploding in fiery race riots. 

Certainly not a time  we could be optimistic, and globally we were frozen in the cold war...two great powers, the Soviet Union & the United States were threatening each other with mutual nuclear annihilation...  ...and so you know the optimism that Gene Roddenberry had, some people said  was like looking at the future through rose colour glass.  But the amazing thing is that optimism in the arena of Science Fiction & Political Fiction and Social Fiction has become reality in only four decades.

For example, we have amazing technology.  We walked around the star ship with this device attached to our hip and whenever we wanted to talk to someone we'd flip it open and immediately start talking.

That was amazing. Today it’s a very real nuisance in our society you know. It disrupts meetings, it’s very invasive. At theatres we have to PLEAD with the audience to 'turn off your cell phone' and they still go off you know. Very rude. I think it has lowered the level of civility in our society.

But we have in fact space craft  out in space we call it the International Space station and of all things we have people from all over this planet, from all various planets  (edit: wtf? ' From various planets'??? --Kinn), different races, different cultures, different religions. We've had astronauts from Israel and of all things Russians and Americans working together, side by side when that was the wildest, most un-dreamed of political fiction when we had Chekov onboard our ship.  When we had the inter-racial kiss, a black woman and a white man. Uhura and Captain Kirk kiss each other.  It was so scandalous that is it was literally blacked out, if you will excuse the term, in the American South. And today, only four decades later we have an African American President, an enormously popular President, of the United States. So you know that optimism combined with that confidence is important to make progress and that progress can be accelerated. What we thought would be happening in three hundred years, we made happen in four decades.


HFZ: Indeed and it does make you wonder how much progress we are going to make over the next four decades and how much closer we are going to get to the vision that Gene Roddenberry laid out in Star Trek.

G.T.:   Exactly. You know, I mean, just on the Science Fiction and science technology area. We're amazed at the re-mastering of our original series, and you know...the thing is, that was only four decades too and we see the original series special effects as quaintly charming but in four more decades how will the re-mastering that we're are so amazed by today,  be seen by people forty years from now - Antique and charming?

HFZ:  Speaking about that re-mastering for a second, obviously they've replaced a lot of the old special effects, they have digitally re-vamped the video footage to be much closer to what it was originally supposed to be and they've generally tooled it so that it’s a bit more appealing towards today's younger generation I feel.

G.T.: Right.

H.F.Z.: Do you feel that a lot of the storylines and the issues that were dealt with in the original stories are still valid and install important lessons for today's generation?

G.T.:  The stories are still valid. The metaphorical issues that Gene was dealing with have certainly changed but they’re still relevant. You know the racial conflict that was going on in the Sixties in the United States, certainly we have overcome, but that in-ability to see beyond people surface appearance is still relevant today. I mean, after Nine-Eleven, Arab Americans in this country were subjected to the same sort of, you know, racial profiling as they called it.  So, I think humans need to be reminded of lessons that we thought we had learned in another generation and re-learn them again today.

H.F.Z.: As an actor in the original series, were there any messages in your performances that you particularly wanted to get across and in retrospect do you feel that you did this.

G.T.:  Well you know the thing that gratifies me is, there are so many people...Asian Americans, that come up to me today and say I was the only image for them that, when they were children watching television, that they feel they could identify with and be proud of and I was certainly mindful of that when I was cast. 

The role of Sulu was a breakthrough role for me as the role of Uhura was for Nichelle Nichols. Gene Roddenberry was being truly pioneering in the way he cast.  Until then, Asian roles or Asian American roles were usually either the villains or the buffoons of the quiet servant, you know, and Black roles too were pretty one-dimensional and stereotyped and Gene gave us roles that were strong, indeed heroic in certain episodes, people who were part of the leadership team and I knew this was an important breakthrough role for me personally but also an important breakthrough in the projection of the image of an Asian man on television. So when young people come up to me and say that I was a profound influence, I'm gratified by that.

So many people have also...uh...come to, uh...Deforest (Kelly) (Dr. McCoy) and Jimmy Dohan (Mr. Scott) tell me that they encounter young people that come up to them and say, they decided to study medicine, or to go into engineering because of the impact that their roles had and thanks to Star Trek I've had some extraordinary experiences meeting extraordinary people.  I've met Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon...and many astronauts at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and they were all Star Trek fans when they were in college or when they were in high school and they tell me that Star Trek played an important role in their making their career decisions.

H.F.Z.:  In Star Trek VI, your character Sulu made a jump from being a crew member on board the enterprise to being the captain of the excelsior no less – and some people at the time viewed this as quite an interesting move for paramount to make and were wondering if they were trying to get a message across there as well. So what was your initial reaction when you found out that your character was being put in command of such a powerful vessel?

G.T.:  My reaction was – “It’s high time!”  As a matter f fact, I had been lobbying for promotions for Sulu from the television period and then a captaincy for Sulu when the movie series began. It was a little self serving but I wanted to beef up my part, so they started giving us titular advances, from a lieutenant to a lieutenant commander and to commander. The trouble was, I was still at that damned console doing the same thing, saying the same lines – “Aye aye sir warp 3” – you know and I argued....Starfleet is supposed to be a meritocracy, and with these advances in titles should also be increases in responsibility and authority and that wasn’t visible. So I said that it’s about time that the meritocracy because substantive and certainly is Sulu was supposed to be a number one graduate from Starfleet academy and the best helmsman in Starfleet then he should be a captain by now and I lobbied throughout the movie series but nothing happened. We just got titular advances and buy Star Trek V, I had almost given up.  When I received the script for Star Trek VI and I opened the script and there on the first page is this brand new Starship, the most up to date, cutting edge, biggest most powerful Starship and seated in the c entre seat is a brand new captain, confidently sipping his cup of tea, captain Sulu.  I was absolutely overjoyed.

H.F.Z.:  Yeah, and I think that allot of the fan base were overjoyed as well and I think you went on to become a very popular captain in allot of people’s eyes and a very popular ship and obviously you yourself became a huge hit with the fans.

G.T.: Well you know, I knew the manager of the Grumps Chinese theatre here in Hollywood where big movies are premiered and I had them sneak me in to one of the screenings of Star Trek VI and I stood in the back in the dark and watched the titles go and then the movie starts, and when they first see Sulu in the captains see, the theatre just exploded in cheering and stomping and applauding and it was such a glorious feeling, so yes, the audience agreed with me that it was high time that Sulu got his captaincy.

H.F.Z: Indeed!

GT: I really think that movie should be subtitled, not the “Undiscovered Country” but “Captain Sulu to the rescue!”  It was THE captain Sulu movie – Kirk would have been a goner if Sulu hadn’t come out of that galaxy sky to blast the Klingon captain played by Christopher plumber to smithereens and saving kirks life. It was in great jeopardy, and the way all classic trek episodes end on the bridge of the enterprise with captain talking into the view screen, but this time a humbled and grateful captain Kirk looks at the giant image of captain Sulu on the view screen and essentially says – “Thank you for saving my ass!” now that is a captain Sulu movie.

H.F.Z.:  I think from that then, we can ascertain which of the six movies your favourite was (laughing) but of the original series episodes themselves, is there any one that stands out as being one of your favourites?

GT:  My favourite is unquestionably “Naked Time” where I finally get to be unchained from the console and whip of my shirt and terrorise the entire star ship with my swashbuckling fencing prowess. That was great fun.

HFZ: One of my favourite episodes too.

GT: You have great taste!

HFZ. Thanks. Just one of my final questions here. We were talking earlier about how technology is advancing and how things have happened in forty years which back in the sixties they were originally thinking two or three hundred years at least, so based on how things are evolving now, how long do you anticipate or hope before it is people like you and I that are going up into space and you know, ships like the enterprise are being sent out in to space on behalf of humanity and sent exploring. How far away do you think that is now?

GT: Well it is already happening with billionaires, a few million dollars for the opportunity to go out into space, but I do think that it won’t be too long because Branson is preparing already for space tourism so you know, we thought back in the sixties that it would take centuries to get to that point where we would have a spacecraft with the entire planet, the diversity of the planet represented, Well it took only four decades so I think that all of these advances are going to be accelerated and it won’t be too long, maybe a generation before the opportunity to get out into space will be affordable for at least the middle class I would think.

What I devoutly pray for the early invention of is the transporter. To be able to “beam” from one place to another.  I travel allot as I told you. I have been doing all of these symphony concert narrations and my nemesis is delayed flights, cancelled flights, lost luggage....If only we could just stand and sparkle and disappear and a few seconds later, sparkle and reappear at our destination with our luggage intact – that would be something to be devoutly prayed for.

Zach: indeed, that would be something wouldnt it!

GTL: And that might happen before long – They have already been able to move a molecule about five feet!

HFZ: I would imagine that they’re hammering away at it now and maybe there is already something viable in the works.

GT: That’s right, Human technological advances are now accelerating and it’s both exciting and a little...

HFZ: Daunting?

GT:  ...frightening. Yeah it is, isn’t it?

HFZ: if you look close enough there are new pieces of technology being revealed every day. There is certainly some amazing stuff going on.

GT: And how that technology is going to be managed and governed, you know, with the power blocks breaking down and the possibility of nuclear weapons being stolen by irrational people, I mean like, we just went through the rescue of the Captain of an American ship of the coast of Somalia.  These rag tag group of people can now paralyse a powerful nation and what if they had nuclear weapons, these people got nuclear weapons. What a frightening thought.

HFZ: It is very frightening and I think that allot of people look at Star Trek and they look at it and they say “if only things could be like this” – and they will welcome the day when it hopefully finally occurs.

GT: we advance tremendously but there are some groups of humankind that cannot becuase of circumstance advance in tandem and that become desperate and irrational and violent and so that’s the reality of the world we live in.  It’s very thought provoking.

HFZ: It is, on that note, I think we are running out of time here without allotted appointment here with you today.

GT: Well I have enjoyed out chat!

HFZ: So have I – and I would just like to remind everyone who is listening, to check out the original series season 1 and original motion picture collection which is being release on blu-ray on April 27th – Are you going to be checking them out yourself George?

GT: Well I have seen some of them I have not seen the altered Universe one but I have seen the others that have been remastered.

HFZ: Excellent

GT: And they look fantastic.

HFZ: Well I am not going to take up any more of your time here. I would just like to say what an honour it has been to speak with you today.

GT: Well thank you – Speaking with you in Essex!

HFZ:  I would just like to say to my audience, thank you very much for listening to hailing f frequency today. I have been Zach and we have been here with George Takei.

GT: No no no! It’s pronounced Takai.

HFZ: I am so Sorry!

GT: No don’t be sorry, I don’t object to your pronunciation of my last name because there is a Japanese word that is pronounced Takei and it translates into English as expensive, so I would be happy to accommodate you by billing you and appropriately charging you hehehehe!  But I am Takai – which doesn’t mean cheap either!

HFZ: Well thank you very much George for taking time out of your schedule to be with us today!

GT: Hailing Frequency Closed!

HFZ: Bye Bye!

GT: (Laughing) – Take Care! 
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(( Don't forget to DIGG this article. Thank you! -Kinneas))
« Last Edit: 15 April 2009 05:19 PM by Kinneas »

Offline Kinneas

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That was so inspiring to listen to and an honor to transcribe.

That is exactly the kind of content I wanted to hear Mr. Takei speak about.

It is nice dreaming about what can be done in the next few decades.

I'm sorry I could not be a part of the audio interview. :(  Technical problems.