2008 flashback: George Takei talks about ‘Heroes,’ Howard Stern, marriage

HEROES -- "Landslide" Episode 122 -- Pictured: George Takei as Kaito Nakamura -- NBC Photo: Paul Drinkwater

HEROES — “Landslide” Episode 122 — Pictured: George Takei as Kaito Nakamura — NBC Photo: Paul Drinkwater

This was posted by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog on August 29, 2008

“Star Trek” legend George Takei has seen his career blossom since he went public about his homosexuality in 2005. Besides tongue-in-cheek appearances on “Will & Grace, ” “Cory in the House” and “Psych, ” he’s become a favorite guest on the Howard Stern radio show.

And he nabbed his biggest role in years playing Hiro’s father on NBC’s hit show “Heroes.” He’ll be at Atlanta’s DragonCon festival this weekend to meet fans and gab about “Heroes, ” the upcoming “Star Trek” film and his upcoming nuptials.

Q: I’ve already seen the first episode of the new season of “Heroes” and I see you’re still in it, even though your character is dead!

A: I’m there for about 10 seconds. That’s the way it is with “Heroes.” Nothing is ever as it seems on the surface. And you’ll manage to see a bit more of me throughout the season.

Q: Are you at all involved in the upcoming “Star Trek” film?

A: Not exactly. But John Cho [of “Harold & Kumar” film fame] is playing my character Sulu. I’ve known him as an actor for quite some time. … He asked me to have lunch with him once he got cast. He told me he was very nervous and anxious and couldn’t sleep. I said: “Don’t worry. You’ll do fine. I know what you can do and you’re a perfect fit.” It won’t be long before I’ll be known as the guy who played the older John Cho!

Q: Congratulations on your marriage next month. Does it seem anticlimactic considering you and Brad [Altman] have been together for more than 20 years?

A: We have known each other for a quarter-century. We’ve shared everything in our lives. The wise men and women of the California Supreme Court [in May] said: “Oh right, boys. You have been living in sin all these years. It’s about time you made yourself legal!” We’re law-abiding citizens. We’re going to do it up big!

Q: Can you give us a taste of what the wedding’s going to be like?

A: The ceremony will take place at the Democracy Forum at the Japanese American National Museum. We love the idea of our union happening at the forum of democracy. The theme is diversity.

Randy Guiaya will play the koto, the Japanese harp. Our Buddhist minister is Mexican-American. Our best man is Walter Koenig [who played Chekov in “Star Trek”]. And our best lady is Nichelle Nichols [who played Uhura on the show]. Some may think that’s a little calculatedly “Star Trek.” But they really are our best friends. …

Then the music will start playing: “One” from “The Chorus Line.” We’ll come down separate aisles. We come together and enter the circle. It’s a Buddhist ceremony. We’ll sip from the same cup of saki. It will be very religious and very traditional. And there’ll be the sounds of bagpipes outside.

Q: When’s the last time you went on Howard Stern?

A: I just did it last week. They gave me a bachelor party. I told them I haven’t been a bachelor for over two decades, so it could not be what it should be. But they brought in hunks who didn’t have a thing on. I said: “What’s the point? This is radio!” But it turns out they have cameras [for a subscription-only TV show].

Q: So Brad didn’t mind?

A: He refused to listen.

Q: Did you enjoy yourself?

A: I did indeed. Particularly knowing Brad was not listening. That gave me a little freedom. But he did hear about it from e-mail and phone calls. It got very exaggerated in the second telling. I told him how it happened factually.

Q: What did happen?

A: It was only tactile.

In August, 2006, I interviewed Takei and wrote this brief Peach Buzz item:

Since George Takei (aka Lt. Sulu on “Star Trek”) publicly announced he was gay last fall, he’s been riding an amazing media wave, becoming the “voice” of the Howard Stern show, recently roasting William Shatner on Comedy Central and playing a nastier version of himself on USA’s “Psych” this past Friday night.

“I think it really has been a career galvanizer, ” Takei said in his mellifluous bass. “For those actors who may be reticent about being public about their sexual orientation, I would say that they have nothing to fear.” Takei will be at the big sci-fi convention DragonCon this weekend at the Hyatt Regency and Marriott Marquis in Atlanta.

During the Shatner roast, Takei, 69, absorbed dozens of jokes about his lifestyle with good humor: “They asked me to roast Bill. I had 40 years of material on him. I had no idea it would be a two-way street.”

He also paid homage to Shatner, in a sense, on “Psych” Friday, playing a “pompous, arrogant egocentric version of myself” at a fictional sci-fi convention.

His gig doing voiceovers for Stern also came after the flurry of press related to his outspoken support of free speech: “When the government is pressing down on you, he not only presses back but presses to the limit.”

And while some New York politicians are calling for CBS to pull “Survivor” after the network announced it was segregating the tribes by race, Takei is taking a more rational approach: “Proof in the pudding is in the eating, not just looking at it and smelling it. How they do it is going to determine whether it’s going to be something we can applaud or jeer.”

Spock would appreciate the logic.o pull “Survivor” after the network announced it was segregating the tribes by race, Takei is taking a more rational approach: “Proof in the pudding is in the eating, not just looking at it and smelling it. How they do it is going to determine whether it’s going to be something we can applaud or jeer.”