It’s taken a few decades for George Takei (aka Sulu on “Star Trek”) to truly become Takei.
His complicated journey began at a Japanese-American internment camp shortly after the start of World War II. He was a child, and he hasn’t forgotten the terror of being ordered around at gunpoint just because his family looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor.
After the war, he faced a different kind of humiliation, pretending to be heterosexual as he carved a Hollywood career for himself out of forgotten Jerry Lewis comedies, three years of “Star Trek” on television and sharing a key scene with John Wayne in the jingoistic “The Green Berets.”
When the “Star Trek” movies reunited the cast in 1979, Takei became more visible, even landing a script that went beyond the ensemble nature of the series and emphasized Sulu. He became a regular on Howard Stern’s show, where he first denied his homosexuality, then very publicly came out of the closet.
- Ivar's to raise restaurant workers' wages to $15 right away
- WSU study: 'Exploding head syndrome' more common than once thought
- Opening day roster looks pretty clear after Sunday cuts
- 3 places off the beaten track in Hawaii
- A mom's tweet about Oreos in school stirs up culture wars
Most Read Stories
All this is covered with plentiful film clips and interviews in Jennifer Kroot’s fine new documentary, “To Be Takei,” which is much more than a “Star Trek” footnote or a standard coming-out story. Takei’s Japanese-American roots were visible for years on network television, and eventually so was his sexual orientation.
Kroot, like her genial star, looks for the humor in each situation — especially when Takei and his longtime husband, Brad Altman, are behaving like the old married couple they are. Takei smiles a lot at this point in his career, and no wonder.
John Hartl: firstname.lastname@example.org