George Takei (Captain Sulu), second transcript

Berlin, 31. Oct. 1999

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George Takei at a recent convention appearance spoke about the movie 'Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country' and the further adventures of Captain Sulu aboard the starship Excelsior.


other topics:

short streaming RealAudio file clip of George Takei talking about the Captain Sulu series


transcript, photos, audio Erich Habich 2000

The further Adventures of Captain Sulu


The thing that I'm most grateful for with fandom is that you created these opportunities for us to get together at conventions.  And even more than that, Star Trek fans have been the people who have created this phenomenon of Star Trek.  You determine the legacy and the history. 

Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek, true.   But the phenomenon of Star Trek was created by the fans.  The NBC executives cancelled the show back in 1969.  But it was fan demand, the fact that you wrote letters, that you campaigned, that you began this convention movement, which was an opportunity again for those of you who were activists and organizers, to get together and say let's plan this kind of movement, this kind of campaign to get Star Trek revived. 

It was because you did that, that Star Trek came back as a series of feature films. 

 

How many among you know the history of Star Trek VI, which is my favorite Star Trek movie?

At one time there was a producer who had a different idea of the Star Trek VI movie.  He wanted to do a flash back film that would take us back to our academy days when, of course, we were much younger.

It was his plan to cast younger actors which resembled us in our roles.  A young actor that looks like William Shatner to play Kirk.  A young actor that looks like Leonard Nimoy to play Spock, and I know a lot of candidates that would be more than eager to do that.

But we thought it was a horrible idea.   For one thing it was because we felt so proprietorial about our character and for another, this was a movie that was going to come out in 1991 which is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek, the silver anniversary which is a real achievement.

This producer was proposing to celebrate that with people who were never there to begin with... 

Brand-new people to celebrate twenty-five years of Star Trek.  We thought that was a dumb idea.  So I took it on as a mission to go to every convention for three months straight, twelve conventions in a row.   And I told all the fans that I considered them my bosses.  You are my bosses.  

I may work at the studio.  I may work on a series, but I don't consider the Paramount producers or executives to be my bosses.   I work for the fans.  And the fans are my bosses.

Considering what this producer was coming up with, I thought the bosses should know what the hired men back at the studio were doing.   And so for twelve weeks, every weekend, I went out to a convention and told my bosses what was happening.  And if they didn't agree, to tell Paramount what the right thing to do is. 

Star Trek fans are famous for writing letters.  And so the letter writing campaign began.  Immediately it was a tidal wave.  It was just a groundswell that grew and grew and it became a tidal wave of letters flooding in on Paramount studios every day.

And Paramount immediately wanted to put a stop to that and they kept saying: 'All right.  We're thinking about it.'

But that wasn't enough.  The waves of letters kept coming.  And so finally that producer was let go.  He was no longer on the Paramount lot.  We then knew that we had accomplished our business.   Shortly thereafter Paramount announced the plan to do 'Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country'.  The script that you all know and love. 

And I love that script.  It is in my estimation the best of all the Star Trek films.

It begins with Captain Sulu!  I call that a Captain Sulu movie.  It fits the classic description of drama: beginning, middle and end. 

  • How does it begin?
    It begins with Captain Sulu.  On board and in the center power seat of the starship Excelsior.  A bigger ship, a more powerful ship a more impressive ship than any of the ships in all Starfleet.  And there is Captain Sulu and commanding that.
  • And then at the climax,
    who should come to the rescue of Captain Kirk?  None other than: Captain Sulu!
  • How does it end?
    The classic ending of all Star Trek movies: on the bridge of the Enterprise.   And there is Captain Kirk who looks at the giant image of Captain Sulu on the screen.  And says in essence: 'Thank you for saving my butt!'


But that's not quite the ending yet.  Captain Sulu says: 'Good to see you one more time'.  And he roars off... 

click to visit the Excelsior campaign headquarters
And you see that great ship roaring off into the galaxy. 

And there is an absolutely awestruck McCoy who says: 'By God!  That's a BIG ship!'   But Scotty with a twinkle in his eye chimes in 'Aye!  But not as big as her Captain I think!' 

Now that is a Captain Sulu movie!   Beginning, middle and end.

And that movie came about thanks to the fans.   It would not have happened if it hadn't been for the fans letter writing.  I think that movie is a great introduction to the further adventures of Captain Sulu.   And I'm asking you: What do you think of that idea? 

You got those hired guns back at Paramount:   you tell them!  You tell them what's the right thing to do!

The news is that there is enormous fan demand for a Captain Sulu series.  I'm very convinced of that.  Every convention I go to, every fan that I meet, the question that comes up is:  what's happening with the Captain Sulu idea?  There is great fan demand.

And here again, you know, as the history of Star Trek has had it, the fans are the ones that guide the force of Star Trek.  And I really think it's ultimately in the hands of the fans.

Visit the Excelsior campaign.

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Message Board

Does George Takei believe in Extraterrestrial Life?


Y
ou know, by using the word 'believe' you make it into a religion.   You either have faith or you don't have faith.  I rather take the more scientific approach:  to keep an open and unbiased mind.  To collect all the information that we can. 

To be analytical, to analyze the information that we gather.  And based on that it's informed speculation on what might be.  And given what we know, the countless prospects out there, all of the galaxies out there, you know it's arrogant for man to think that we're the only so-called life form. 

The convergence of atoms and molecules to take on whatever shape that has what we call intelligence.  So, I'm open to the idea of a fascinating form of whatever we might encounter out there.

I'm sure it's not nothingness based on all that we have been able to gather.  I'm intrigued and tantalized by the future.   I think our curiosity and our innovativeness, technological development and creativity is already taking us to the point were we can be reaching further and further out and the prospects seem countless of the possibility of interesting forms being out there.

I don't want to use the word 'life' because 'life' is as we define it.  But other forms of combinations of elements happening that are more than just inert. 

I used a lot of words, I wonder if I made any sense.

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Message Board

Will mankind be going to other worlds?


I
think that in the near future we are to be going out into outer space.

You know, when Star Trek was on, only 33 years ago, we had this device on our hips that we flipped open and said 'Beam me up, Scotty!" into.

Only 33 years ago.  That was Science Fiction then.  And now it's called a mobile phone.  It's become a normal part of our life.  33 years ago we were locked in the grip of a Cold War.  Two great forces staring at each other.  And yet on the Starship Enterprise you heard someone with a Russian accent.  Pure fiction, impossible Science Fiction, at that time, 33 years ago.

And today we have the space station 'Mir' on which you hear both Russian and English being spoken.  Amazing things can happen.   What seems like pure fiction to us today can in a mere three decades, maybe even less, turn into reality.  Amazing things can happen.

I never thought that in my lifetime I would see the Berlin wall come down.  It was an impossible dream.  People took death-defying risks to get across the wall.  Today you can go to the Checkpoint Charley Museum and you see all of the anguish that people went through trying to cross the wall, it was an impossible dream.  Yet it is all history now.

So, I do think that within the foreseeable future we can see things that we think are impossible today.  They are even talking of tourists now, taking flights that the astronauts take today.

It is do-able with astronauts.  You know, there'll be tourists going to space.  And I want to be amongst the first tourists to be able to go out there and get that experience.  We had an old man of 77 years old do it recently.  Former senator John Glenn who has some experience of 'going out there'.  But, you know, he was 77 years old. 

I think there is hope for all of us to be tourists and certainly what you think might be impossible in the near future could very easily become fact.

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Message Board

What happened to Bruce Hyde?


Bruce Hyde appeared in the first season of Star Trek, starring in 'The Naked Time'

That was the fun thing about Star Trek: we always had good roles for young actors building a career in Hollywood.  And so we had a lot of young people come aboard to do really good work, fine work.

And Bruce was one of them.  And I think he really made an impact.  I think he came back and did a couple more episodes.   Because he did make such an impact with 'The Naked Time'.

Bruce was a man with a lot of other talents.   He was a musician and he also had teaching credentials.  When his career wasn't going so well he went back to his home in Texas, I forget what his hometown was, and some fans discovered that Bruce Hyde was living in their hometown.  The word got out and Bruce got involved in the convention circuit.  This was in the Seventies.

I bumped into Bruce at a lot of Star Trek conventions back in the Seventies.  And then he came back to Hollywood to try to pursue an acting career again.  But you know with an acting career in Hollywood; unless you are there all the time it's very difficult.  The memory of casting directors is very short. 

And there are always new actors coming onto the scene.  So he didn't have much luck the second time he came back.  The last I heard was that he went back to Texas.  And he hasn't been doing conventions either so I haven't had a chance to cross paws with him. 

I must say that I really enjoyed working with him.  He was a very talented actor.

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Message Board

George Takei's reply to a question about his involvement in politics:


If you live in democracy I think it's important for it's citizens to participate in the political process.  And I know from my own family historical experience that democracy is a very fragile thing.

We have our faults and frailties.  And people can be overcome by hysteria.

During World War II the United States couldn't draw the distinction between American citizens of Japanese ancestry and the Japanese nation with which we were at war.  And they rounded up all the Japanese-American citizens on the West Coast of the United States and put us all into internment camps.

With no trial, no charges.  Just because we had faces that looked like the enemies we were rounded up.  And so woman and children, old people, young people, sick people, orphans.  They raided the orphanages and gathered and gathered orphans who may have been of Japanese ancestry.  They gathered all of us and put us into these camps. 

It was my fathers belief that if we had been active participants in American society then perhaps that may not have happened.    After the war and as we were growing up my father emphasized the importance of our being 'in the system'. 

The importance of our being participants in the system.  So even before I was old enough to vote my father had 'volunteered' me to serve in a presidential campaign.

So there I was in the campaign head quarters of Stephenson, filling envelopes and making phone calls and making banners and things like that.  A young teenage volunteer.  Politics is also a lot of fun.  I find it engaging.  It deals with the way we live, the issues that control how we live, the people that we put into office.  It deal with the people that will articulate what's right for our country, our cities, our state, our communities.

So I have been active in the political process even from before I could vote.  And certainly when I was of age I became very active in the system.  And today I'm serving as President Clinton's appointee on the commission that deals with Japan.  And I have been active with that since 1995.   My term goes until 2002.  I have about three more years to go on my tenure there. 

But I'm also active in campaigns on the local level of Los Angeles as well.  I think it's very important in democracy that the people be participants in it.

On the special importance of Berlin
And that's why I'm excited by the symbolism of the new Reichstag.  The architecture of it.  The bombing of the building has not changed it's history.  And history is important.  We can't obliterate history. 

We've got to learn from history.  And there is the great classic architecture of the Reichstag building.  But it's also looking to the future and symbolizing the power of a democratic form of government.   There is that glass dome to symbolize the transparency of government. 

Government must be something that people can see.  And an even more powerful symbol is the ramp going up around the dome of the Reichstag.  People, ordinary people can walk up that ramp and look down on the law makers.  Literally watch them making laws that governs the German people.  It's a powerful symbol. 

It's appropriate not only for Germany, but for all democratic societies throughout the world.  And it is a powerful symbol that really reflects the forward vision of the German people as well as the recognition of the importance of learning from history. 

I'm absolutely intrigued by this kind of government and this kind of society.  And I know that I will keep coming back to Berlin.  You have to keep coming back to Berlin because it keeps changing all the time. 

And I'm the kind of person that likes to turn the page and read what's coming next.  And certainly what's happening in Berlin is of vital importance not only to Germany but to Europe.

And what happens in Europe is going to be very important to the rest of the world, certainly to America.

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Further reading:

TO THE STARS: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF GEORGE TAKEI, STAR TREK'S MR. SULU 

The Star Trek story is one of boundless hope and crushing disappointment, wrenching rivalries and incredible achievements. It is also the story of how, after nearly thirty years, the cast of characters from a unique but poorly rated television show have come to be known to millions of Americans and people around the world as family.

Click here for more books by George Takei

 

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