By Jeff Walsh
One of the breakout shows on television is Heroes, which tells the story of a group of people who discover they have special powers and a role in saving mankind.
One of the storylines involves Hiro Nakamura, played brilliantly by Masi Oka (who was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance), a Tokyo programmer that can manipulate the time-space continuum. On the episode airing on NBC this week, the character's father will enter the series, played by Star Trek's Sulu, George Takei.
And he has personal experience as a hero. Takei came out as gay in 2005, in response to a gay marriage bill in California, revealing to the press that he was gay and has been in a relationship for what is now going on 20 years.
This weekend, I got the chance to chat with George from his home in southern California by phone. While I'm not the biggest Star Trek fan, I've certainly seen nearly every Star Trek episode and movie at this point. But, still, as soon as he answered the phone, his unique voice was unmistakable. We had a relaxed, fun chat with a lot of laughs that also touched on a lot of topics, such as his being held in an American interment camp as a Japanese American during World War II, his role on The Howard Stern Show with his signature "Oh my!" tagline, the fight for GLBT equality, and the correct pronunciation of his last name (after I screwed it up). But, our conversation started off discussing Heroes and his latest role.
Were you a fan of Heroes prior to this?
Well, I'd been watching it particularly because I was told that one of the heroes is a young Japanese man who's a Star Trek fan, so that's what got me to tune in first. And I got hooked on it, so I've been watching the show but never dreamt I'd be a part of it.
Especially being the father of the character that started you watching...
The father of the character, yes. Kaito Nakamura, father of Hiro Nakamura. And it's interesting because Nakamura happens to be my mother's maiden name, and my nephew gave his five-year-old son the name Kaito as his Japanese middle name. He's Marcus Kaito Takei. So, I've got my nephew's son's Japanese name as my character's first name, and my mother's maiden name as my character's surname. A full-circle round.
So, your character wants his son to come back and run the company. That's all they are telling us. Do you have anything else to add to that?
Well, the family is a distinguished old-line family of, well in the olden days I would suspect they were lords and then became a powerful industrialist family. He's one of the richest men in the world. All-powerful. But I learned the business from the bottom up, as my father brought me up, and that's the way I intended to bring my own son up, but he is a different kettle of fish.
And you'll be appearing for how many episodes?
Well, so far I've done three episodes. But (Heroes creator) Tim Kring's suggested that we are going to be exploring the Nakamura family quite extensively.
I've heard the actors from Lost say, when people keep asking them what's going to happen, that they don't even know...
Oh, absolutely. What I know is what I get in the script that I get, so what I've shared with you is what I've deduced from the bits and pieces of information. Like the third (episode), certainly threw me for a loop. I really don't know my character and I don't know what makes him do what he does, what his motivations are, and what his intention is, where he intends to go. So, I make new and startling discoveries with each script.
So, this week's show is a two-part episode that will continue next week. When does your third episode going to air?
We skip one and then I'm in the third one. So, counting the weeks, my first one's going to be this Monday, and then my second one will be the Monday after, then I'm not in the next one, and in the one following I appear again, and that's a doozy. (laughs) Enough to tantalize you.
Have you seen the finished product of the episodes you're in? Or will you be watching on Monday like all of us?
I have seen it. And I was in for looping (for the second episode)... was it Tuesday or Wednesday? So, I did see those scenes.