1 of 16
Click ‘Next’ to View Gallery
George Takei has had one of Hollywood’s truly remarkable careers. He’s seen both bad, under-paying, ‘But-you’re-Asian!’ typecasting and enormously successful, ‘Why-you’re-a-living-icon!’ typecasting. Sometimes he’s seen it in the same role.
He will always be best known for his role as Sulu on Star Trek TOS. But there’s a lot more to George’s acting career than Starfleet. After all, the man has been a pro for 60 years.
Hey, That’s Not George!
George portrayed Toma Sakai in ‘The Case of the Blushing Pearls’ (1959). He would also guest star opposite Raymond Burr in ‘Ironside’ (1971). Over the next few years. George would appear in episodes of ‘Hawaiian Eye,’ ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,’ ‘My Three Sons,’ ‘I Spy’ and many more.
The Twilight Zone
George played ‘Arthur Takamori / Taro’ in the episode titled ‘The Encounter’ (1964). It makes sense that having had a role in Twilight Zone, especially a nice big part, might give you a leg up when it comes time to cast something like ‘Star Trek.’
In terms of mid-60s TV, it’s the same audience.
Red Line 7000
No, we haven’t seen it either, but there’s George – dancing. Then there’s the geek detail of George playing a character named ‘Kato’ a year before Bruce Lee did. It also stars James Caan, five years before Sonny Corleone.
Plus, it’s directed by Howard Hawks. How bad can it be? Somebody call TCM.
George played ‘Roger Lee’ in ‘The Carriers’ episode in 1966 – the year he began playing Lt. Sulu. If you think about it, Sulu was almost an ‘M:I’ character on ‘Star Trek.’ He was always the super-cool professional who never broke a sweat – even while giving the countdown to whatever crisis was going to blow up the Enterprise that week.
He wasn’t frequently drunk like Scotty. Unlike Uhuru, he never once said ‘Captain, I’m afraid.’ Unlike Chekov he could speak English, and he wasn’t an embarrassment as a fighter.
The two ‘Trek ‘characters least likely to freak out emotionally (unless under alien influence) were played by the show’s two ‘M:I’ vets, George and Leonard Nimoy.
The Green Berets
There they are together, John Wayne and George Takei as ‘Captain Nim’ in 1968.
There’s George as ‘Nathaniel Blake’ on the ‘Death’s Name Is Sam’ (1975). George would also appear on the current ‘Hawaii Five-O’ in 2012 and 2016 as ‘Uncle Choi.’ Geek Note: 1975 would also see George played a second character named ‘Kato.’
This time it would be a ‘Major Kato’ on ‘Black Sheep Squadron.’
By 1989, the ‘Star Trek’ franchise had cranked out several movies, ensuring work for George as Sulu. But ‘The Smurfs’ was important, too: it began a long career as a voice actor in cartoons.
Over the next decades, he would bring his sonorous voice to everything from episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ to ‘Samurai Jack’ to ‘Batman Beyond.’
From 2003-2007, George had a recurring role as ‘the Sensei.’ By now he was playing no small number of ‘Senseis’ and ‘Sword Masters’ and ‘Elder Monks.’ By now, he was also becoming famous as a personality in his own right.
An increasing number of credits show him being cast as ‘George Takei.’
The Super Hero Squad Show
On several occasions in 2010 and 2011, George performed the role of one comics’ most iconic super-villains: Galactus.
Between 2007 and 2010, George had a recurring role as Kaito Nakamura. Unless you’re a stickler over that silent ‘i,’ this marks the third time George has played a Kato.
In ‘Supah Ninjas’ (2011-13) and ‘The Neighbors’ (2013-14) George played a character known as ‘Grandfather.’
2017 will see George’s portrayal of ‘Elder Masook’ in Yamasong: March of the Hollows. 2018 will hear him as ‘Ohga’ in Blazing Samurai.
Please understand. We’re not all the way down with Hollywood typecasting. But….
…we hear there’s an especially nasty SPECTRE operative who covers East Asia. A fellow by the name of ‘Dr. No.’ Somebody’s going to have to play him.
How about this guy? Let the buzz begin!