George Takei: ‘My dream dinner party? My colleagues from Star Trek, with one exception’
Born in California to Japanese-American parents, George Takei, 82, spent his childhood in US internment camps. From 1966 he played Sulu in the Star Trek television series and films. In 2015 he told the story of his family’s wartime incarceration in the Broadway musical Allegiance, and this year he published the graphic memoir They Called Us Enemy. He lives in Los Angeles with his husband.
When were you happiest?
When Brad and I got married. We had to struggle for it. It involved a nationwide speaking tour, lobbying Congress and campaigning intensely. We were the first couple to get our marriage licence in West Hollywood.
What is your greatest fear?
I experienced my greatest fear when soldiers came to our home when I was five. We were ordered out at gunpoint. This happened to 120,000 Japanese-Americans simply because we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor.
Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
I went overboard on the money I invested in the production of Allegiance. It did not return, but it was fulfilling that I was able to tell a story that’s dear.
What would your superpower be?
Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek, said that the strength of the Starship Enterprise was its diverse team working in concert. I would like to have the superpower to bring that kind of society to ours today.
What makes you unhappy?
We are a violent breed.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My husband. We’ve been together 33 years.
How do you relax?
I become horizontal. I call it a power nap.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I’ve done six marathons, but gravity has been working on my body for 82 years and pulled my pectoral muscles down. They are now around my waistline.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
My colleagues from Star Trek, with one exception.
What is the closest you’ve come to death?
After the war, when I was about nine, we were held up in our home. The robbers grabbed my father and had a gun at his throat. It was terrifying. My mother got a wad of money and gave it to the people, and they ran away.
What is your most unappealing habit?
I love food, and I am trying to teach myself restraint.
What is top of your bucket list?
I don’t believe in bucket lists. When one is elderly, you get too tired; you can’t walk that far or play that hard. I believe in enriching yourself as you are living life.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
As a teenager I told my father, “You led us into the camp like sheep to slaughter.” I knew I had hurt him, this man that I loved so much. That’s haunted me all my life.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
One great big artistic challenge.
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who loved the ideals of American democracy and made my small contribution to it.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To keep on reaching.