(Hikaru Sulu) said this week he felt his new work on Star Wars: The Clone Wars
actually has some thematic links to his first science ficton franchise, Star Trek
"I don’t consider it jumping ship," Takei told CBR News, in an interview promoting his first Clone Wars episode that will air tonight. "You know, the Star Trek philosophy is to embrace the diversity of life and Star Wars is a part of that diversity. I think that Star Trek and Star Wars are related beyond just the word 'star.' I think Star Trek is Science Fiction and Star Wars is more Science Fantasy. But with the episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars that I worked on, I think there is a merging there. It does deal philosophically with certain issues of the time, which is what Star Trek was known for. War and Peace, technology and humanity, sacrifice and courage, these issues I found engaging."
More than thirty years before working on these Clone Wars episodes for the Cartoon Network, Takei already voiced Hikaru Sulu for Star Trek: The Animated Series. But Takei revealed he preferred this new experience: "The other thing that was engaging for me as an actor in doing the Star Wars animation as apposed to the Star Trek animation is that it really is working as an actor with other actors. When we did the recording, they had the entire cast there so we could bounce off of each other. So you get an idea of the characterization and vocal rhythms of the other characters. When we did the animation for Star Trek, they accommodated each one of us in our various schedules, so we came in individually. As I was coming in, Leonard [Nimoy] was leaving and I’d go into the recording booth and they would have the script with my lines underscored with a colored pen. I’d just read my lines according to how the scene was supposed to play but not really playing with Leonard. Then when I was finished and I’d be leaving, Jimmy Doohan might be coming in and he’d step into the booth and do his lines. "
Beyond Clone Wars, Takei also discussed the new Trek film, relaying a story of how the casting of John Cho happened. "J.J. Abrams was very concerned about how he was going to cast. He asked me to have breakfast with him and he told me that he had been interviewing many Asian actors for the part. He said that he tried as hard as he could to find an actor of Japanese ancestry, since that’s what I am, for the part. But he found another actor who was not of Japanese ancestry that he thought would be wonderful and he wanted to get my reaction to that. I told him that when I was first interviewed for the part myself with Gene Roddenberry, I asked him how he came up with the name Sulu. He said that he wanted the Starship Enterprise to be a metaphor for Starship Earth. He wanted the people to represent regions of this planet."
As Roddenberry didn't want to pick a name from a specific Asian country, he chose the name Sulu after seeing the Sulu Sea on a map. Takei continued, "I told the story to J.J. and I said that it would be entirely in keeping with Gene Rodenberry’s vision that you not confine yourself to any cultural group; that you should not cast according to that. If you’ve found someone with Chinese ancestry, Korean ancestry or Vietnamese ancestry that you think fits the part and you think that actor brings that type of talent then you should go with them. So assured by that, he told me that he was thinking of John Cho and I said, 'John would be wonderful.'"
In the full interview, Takei talks some more about the new Trek film, and about his work on Heroes. To read it, please follow this link.