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George Takei Reflects On "Star Trek," Hollywood Career, Political Advocacy

(CBS Local)-- Live long and prosper. That's exactly what legendary actor and activist George Takei has done for generations in Hollywood. The 83-year-old became a household name when he landed the part of Sulu on "Star Trek" during the 1960s alongside William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.

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Takei has done a little bit of everything in his life and career, including voice acting. The actor has been a fan of science-fiction for a long time and he recently narrated two of author Ken Liu's books for Serial Box. Whether it's acting on "Star Trek" or reading novels, Takei has always been fascinated by sci-fi.

"It was a real joy because Ken Liu is such a wonderful writer," said Takei, in an interview with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith. "He's an imaginative sci-fi writer and I got to read two of his books. One called Saboteur and the other called Summer Reading. They are both a wonderful compliment to each other and they deal with humans and technology. It's really fascinating."


While it has been decades since Takei played Sulu in a Star Trek movie or TV show, he is still so thankful for the road he took to get to that life-changing part.

"Star Trek is 54 years old now. Previously, I was a working actor and my first gig was dubbing in English dialogue to a Japanese sci-fi film. That was back in the 50s. My very first job was working with my voice and my most recent job was working with my voice. I did Twilight Zone in 1962 or 1963. I was a fan of Twilight Zone already and I thought Rod Serling had a fantastic voice. A great, rich voice and his writing was wonderful. I discovered Rod Serling even before he did Twilight Zone. I had a wonderful role in Twilight Zone."

Takei's work on "The Twilight Zone," ended up getting him in front of the people who cast him on "Star Trek." The actor overcame major hurdles on his way to fame. For example, he and his family were forced to live in an internment camp and Takei dealt with racism in school as a boy in California. He wants to be remembered as someone who cared about other people.

"I cared about our democracy because I was very young when I was incarcerated," said Takei. "It was when I was five years old to eight years old. When I became a teenager, I became very curious about incarceration and I became a voracious reader. I searched for information about my incarceration and there was nothing in the books at that time. Even the civics books didn't mention the imprisonment of innocent American citizens of Japanese ancestry. It was for no reason other than we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. The only source I could go to was my father and so we had many after dinner conversations. He was the one that guided me and got me to be an activist. I kept challenging my father by saying why did you go, why didn't you protest. I feel very guilty about my challenges now. He said let me show you how it has to work. He took me downtown to the Adlai Stevenson for President campaign headquarters and there working together with other people, I discovered what a participatory democracy is. Particularly now, when we are in this swirling cataclysm. Just like in the Great Depression of the 30s, we have people lined up for food. We have this dysfunction leader and we are living through this cataclysm."

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