Decades after he first rose to fame playing Star Trek‘s Sulu, George Takei, 78, has become an outspoken political activist and social media star. But there’s one story he has been waiting his whole life to tell: his early years spent in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. This month he did just that, making his Broadway debut in Allegiance, a musical about his family’s experience. “My passion is musical theater,” says Takei, “so to be able to bring my life mission together with it has been a dream come true.”
Why stage a musical to share your personal story? Music hits you in the heart as well as in the brain. It has that unique ability to profoundly, deeply move you.
Which scene is most difficult for you? The final scene, where I use my own father in referring to my theatrical father. I owe so much to my father. He was the man who explained to me our democracy while he also lost everything in his 30s — his business, our home, freedom. Yet he maintained his dignity.
What are your musical tastes like? I know Adele and all the current singers, but in the camp my mother put us to bed across from the mess hall, where teenagers would have dances. I heard the big-band sound of the ’40s. That’s the kind of music I relate to. I’m 78 years old!
You don’t look it. There’s this thing called the Law of Nature. Get rest, exercise, eat properly and keep your mind active. I’m a law-abiding guy. If you’re a law-abiding guy, the law treats you well.