Whether gracing the silver screen (Mr. Sulu, you have the conn) or cracking wise from behind a touchscreen (Oh Myyy, that’s quite the universe of Facebook fans you've assembled), entertainer and political activist George Takei currently strives to live his life out loud.
But that wasn’t always the case.
The human rights champion would like to set the record straight about everything he’s experienced to date in the revealing documentary, “To Be Takei .”
Director Jennifer Kroot has been chronicling Takei’s incredible journey — a career trajectory that encompasses his breakthrough role as Hikaru Sulu on the original “Star Trek” as well as wildly successful forays into publishing , satellite radio (serving as guest announcer of the “Howard Stern Show”), social media and musical theater — for the past few years . The finished product, which will be released nationwide on Aug. 22, breezes into town next month for two special screenings (at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 2 and 4) at the AFI Silver Theatre (8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Md.). Per Kroot, the film features candid chats with former Transportation Secretary and ex-Rep. Norman Y. Mineta and the late Sen. Daniel K Inouye. A chat with Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., landed on the cutting room floor, but Kroot hopes to weave it back in moving forward.
“We did an interview with [Honda] about his family's experience being imprisoned in internment camps and it's a great interview, but it didn't fit in the film, so we plan to include some of it in an educational version as a DVD extra,” Kroot told HOH.
Kroot’s goal was to encapuslate Takei’s personal life — specifically, his commitment to Brad Takei (née Altman), George’s husband and manager — and his swirling celebrity.
“I think the film shows the normalcy of this marriage that happens to be between two men. I'm very proud of being able to portray this,” she said.
Brad Takei said he was honored to have Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Irene Hirano Inouye, widow of the former lawmaker, on hand for the May 15 screening hosted by the Smithsonian. “Both Irene and Senator Inouye attended our wedding in September 2008 at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles,” Brad said of their connection to the Aloha State icon.
Sounding a bit like a statesman himself, George Takei said his greatest hope is that the film will help illustrate “that we have a dynamic democracy and active engagement in the democratic process can expand equality to increasing numbers of minorities.”
Brad Takei expects viewers will learn a few things.
“I think audiences who are not very familiar with Howard Stern will come away with newfound respect for him,” he said, dubbing the self-proclaimed “King of All Media’s” contributions “insightful and observant.”
He suspects others will get a kick out of boldly going where certain sex-obsessed Star Trek fans have ventured. “I think audiences will be amused by the portion of the film where Star Trek actors Bill Shatner and Leonard Nimoy discuss fan-written ‘slash fiction’ which includes erotic imagery between their Kirk and Spock characters,” Brad suggested.
Kroot remains fascinated by Shatner, an outsized personality Takei has famously feuded with for years. “Shatner insists that he barely knows George,” she said of her takeaway after quizzing Capt. James Tiberius Kirk. “People have a hard time believing this, since they did three seasons of a TV show together and movies over a period of 20 years.”
Not that George pays detractors any mind.
“I don’t believe in negativity. You determine your destiny,” he proclaims in the film.