George Takei is most famous for his role as Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek. But more recently, he’s been in the public eye for his political activism and for his work on a new musical called “Allegiance” that examines one of the country’s darker times.
The play follows the fictional Kimura family whose lives are turned upside down when they’re forced to leave their homes after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Takei explained on Boston Public Radio today that his family’s experience in a Japanese-American internment camp serves as the inspiration for “Allegiance.”
“It was a little more than two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor that the soldiers came to our home,” he said. “Literally at gunpoint we were ordered out of our home.”
Takei was five years old when his family was taken to a camp, but he says he remembers clearly that “terrorizing morning” the soldiers pounded on their door.
“The whole house seemed to reverberate with it,” said Takei.
He explained that many people have “intellectualized” the Japanese-American internment, but “Allegiance” aims to humanize the story of the 120,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry that had to uproot their lives.
“We wanted to hit people in the heart,” said Takei. “We were looked at with suspicion and fear and outright hatred simply because of our ancestry.”
Takei said his father was a patriotic man who defended America’s democracy even in later conversations about the internment.
“He said despite what we went through, our people's democracy is still the best in the world,” Takei said. “This is a people's democracy, and it can be as great as a people can be but it’s also as fallible as people are.”
Takei has also been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump on Twitter. On BPR today, he said Trump was a “disaster” and a “wrecking crew.”
“I have no hope for the man that’s in the White House now,” said Takei.
“Allegiance” is making its New England Premiere at Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage Company, and it’s on until June 2. To hear George Takei’s interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.