When George Takei met Gene Rodenberry, it didn’t take long for him to get comfortable with the Star Trek creator. The legendary actor, who is best known for playing Star Trek character Hikaru Sulu, recalled his first meeting with the sci-fi series creator in an interview with the Televison Academy Foundation.
“I went there to audition with the hope that I might be a series regular,” Takei explained, recalling his audition for the first-ever Star Trek series. “There’s an interesting way that I met Gene Roddenberry. I was taking a shower, so when I wrote the information down, I was dripping wet.”
“And the ballpoint pen that I use to write down the information got a little smeared,” he says. “And when I went to […] meet the producer, it looked like what I had written down was ‘Rosenberry.’ I was to meet a man named Gene Roddenberry, but it looked like ‘Rosenberry .’And so, when I walked in, I told him that I’m George Takei here to meet Mr. Rosenberry.”
He continued, “And you’re nervous enough as you are, but then when you’re corrected and realize that you’d mispronounced a producer’s name, that really throws you off. But then, when I walked in to meet Gene Roddenberry, he called me George ‘Takai,’ which is a mispronunciation of the ‘ei’ in my surname.”
The mutual mix-up, Takei added, allowed him to find some common ground with Rodenberry.
“I told him of a difficulty I had with his name, but I said, ‘I don’t object to being called George ‘Takai’, because that is a Japanese word which translates into English as ‘expensive. ‘And if you want to call me ‘George Expensive,’ I’d be more than happy to have my agent accommodate you.’ And from that point on, Gene always said, ‘Takei is okay!'”
He might not have known it then, but Takei was about to be part of the best TV series of all time. The actor went on to portray the Star Trek captain in the Original Series, the short-lived Star Trek animated series, and the first six Star Trek movies. After the science fiction movies were rebooted in 2oo9, John Cho took on the role of Sulu.
For more on Sulu, you might want to watch all the Star Trek movies in order. Or, you can look ahead to upcoming Star Trek content with our guides to the Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 3 release date, Star Trek Lower Decks season 4 release date, Star Trek Legacy release date, and Star Trek Discovery season 5 release date.