George Takei discusses personal new documentary "To Be Takei"

The world first got to know George Takei through Star Trek: The Original Series and the six films that followed. These days, the 77-year-old is a huge presence on social media and makes no secret his views on civil rights.

In his new documentary "To Be Takei," released in theaters August 22, the star gives fans a deeper look into his career and relationship with husband Brad.

Takei was hesitant to film a documentary, believing the genre lends itself to overblown portrayals of actors.

"We've had many approaches, and we don't want a vanity project," Takei told CBS News. "You know, so many actors have documentaries done that make them look more glamorous, more intelligent, more wonderful. We wanted essentially to share the normality of our lives, my husband and I, because people have stereotypes and images of the same-sex marriage or union, so we wanted to accomplish that, the normality."

The film's scenes range from lighter moments, like Takei and his husband quibbling about weight, to moments where the viewer sees discrimination firsthand.

"It was very painful. It was a moment when I'm getting an award from the emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito, in the Imperial Palace," Takei said. "There were others that were being honored from various parts of the world and they had their spouses with them. Only Brad, my partner at that time, had to stay on the bus that brought us to the Imperial Palace. I started my life with horrific discrimination, if you want to call it that."

The actor, who got his start playing Sulu on Star Trek, has a huge social media following. He says that following began with Trekkies, or Star Trek fans.

"It started with sci-fi geeks and nerds, but one of my missions in life is to tell the story of the internment, because I think we learn more from those chapters of our history where our democracy faulted than from the many, many glorious chapters that we have had," Takei said.

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George Takei, who played the role of helm officer Sulu in the original television series, "Star Trek," gives a "Live Long and Prosper" gesture in front of a model of the U.S.S. Enterprise
AP

Takei lived, from ages five to almost nine, in a Japanese internment camp in World War II.

"Simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, we were summarily rounded up and put in barbed wire prison camps, machine guns pointed at us from towers, searchlights that followed us when we made the night runs to the latrine," he said.

For Takei, an even greater hardship was returning from those camps.

"The worst part of it, for us the kids, was being released, coming home, because we were absolutely penniless," the actor said. "I mean, everything had been taken from us. Our first home was on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. The hostility was still intense. My father's first job was a dish washer in a Chinatown restaurant."

The hardships Takei has faced, from internment to discrimination because of his sexual preference, are all upfront in his upcoming documentary.

"There is a lot of that in the documentary," Takei said. "We developed a musical on that chapter of American history, and the documentary chronicles that. And it also chronicles my Star Trek life. One of the gifts is my Star Trek professional colleagues have become my dear friends, and they're all in the documentary, and they followed the development of allegiance throughout and we documented it in the documentary."

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