George Takei Reflects on ‘Star Trek’ at American Cinematheque

George Takei stopped by the Egyptian Theatre for American Cinematheque’s tribute to the first six “Star Trek” movies. Showing that evening was “Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan” and “Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.” After watching “The Wrath Of Khan,” George remarked that it’s still a “rip-snorting good space opera,” and that Nicholas Meyer deserves all the credit for its critical and commercial success as he added so many layers to the story along with unforgettable literary quotes like the one from Charles Dickens:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Watching it now was also very poignant for him as he looked over the beginning credits and remarked how DeForest Kelley and James Doohan are no longer with us. George also talked about Merritt Butrick who played Dr. David Marcus in “Star Trek II & III.” Merritt sadly passed away from AIDS in 1989, but George said he got to see him in a two character play where he portrayed a sick gay hustler. Even though he was very sick during that time and had to rest in between his scenes, Merritt showed full commitment to his role and kept on with acting to his life’s end. RIP Merritt.

Then he brought up Spock’s speech towards the end of the film:

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Hearing this again made him think about all the workers going into those nuclear power plants in Japan, knowing full well what they’re going to face. The deadly earthquake and tsunami that has shattered the country has been very painful to him, and he feels a deep connection with all those suffering there as the calamities keep piling on top of each other. George recently filmed a PSA asking for funds to help the people, saying that these are indeed the worst of times, and at times like these “we are all Japanese.”

We’re now approaching the 45th anniversary of “Star Trek,” and George says he owes all the success of it to Gene Roddenberry and his great taste in casting. When he got the job, he was doing guests spots on various TV shows, and the idea of steady employment was “very enticing.” He also remarked how science fiction can play a big part in the future as the character of Chekov (a Russian) was made a part of the Enterprise bridge crew while we were dealing with the Cold War. There’s also the International Space Station whose crew is made up of people from all over the world. Just try and convince us that “Star Trek” had nothing to do with that!

George Takei remains a popular and well respected actor to this day. This July, he will be co-starring in “Larry Crowne” along with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. His character ends up falling in love with one of them, but you’ll have to see the movie to find out whom. In addition, he is playing a hologram of a character in “Super Ninjas” who is jokingly called “Hologramps.” Also, he is working on a musical about his experience living in a World War II internment camp with other artists called “Alliegiance,” and they plan to take to Broadway. George continues to reach a new demographic as well on the Howard Stern radio show, to which he replied:

“Oh my!”

Live long and prosper George, and thanks for taking the helm on such a fun evening!