And I guess one of the interesting things is that all of your dialogue is Japanese.
It's all in Japanese. I speak Japanese fluently, and I've worked in Japan, but never in Japanese. So, here I am in a Hollywood, network, prime-time TV show speaking in Japanese. All my scenes are in Japanese.
And one of the things I'm curious about, and maybe you can clear this up for me, your voice is so distinct. You just have that mellifluous voice that's so beautiful. When you're speaking Japanese, being a tonal language, will we get the George Takei cadence, or will it be a totally different timbre?
Well, my voice will be my voice, but there will be a different cadence, I think. He's a fascinating character with a lot of interesting little nooks and crannies in his life, and that's all I'm going to share with you. (laughs)
Do you see any parallels between Heroes and Star Trek?
Well, first of all, the Hiro character is a Star Trek fan, so there's clearly that parallel there. But the fact that Hiro teleports, goes back and forth in time, is certainly what we called transporting, beaming back and forth, you know. If you remember Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, we beamed back to the 20th century from the 23rd century. I don't know whether Hiro can do quite that kind of transporting, but on Star Trek we did. So there are a lot of parallels there, I think.
I read on your blog that you're really appreciating this "second wind" that's been going on.
Because I was listening when you were first on The Howard Stern Show. Was that a huge chunk of you getting on people's radar and brought you back to people's attention, do you think?
I think it happened a little bit before that. You're a Californian, aren't you?
So you know about the passage of the same-sex marriage bill in the year 2005.
That was a landmark event in American history, because no other legislature in the United States had passed such a bill. They have same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, but that came through the judicial process. So, this was really an extraordinary event. We were elated. And all that was required was the signature of our governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he vetoed that, playing to the most reactionary sliver of his conservative base, I felt I needed to speak out. And, in order for me to do that, my voice had to be authentic.
I've been with my partner for 20 years now, come March, and we've been out certainly with family and friends, and with my Star Trek colleagues as well. They've been over to our home for dinner, and we've gone to their homes for dinners and parties and things like that, you know? So, we'd been out in that sense, but I had not talked to the press and when I talked to the press, that made international news. I had no idea it was going to go that far, but it made the news in Germany in England, in Japan in Brazil, Argentina, so it was quite international.
I'd been on the Howard Stern Show before, but because of that notoriety, and I had talked with Howard shortly after that via the phone. We talked about the gay aspect of my life that we hadn't talked about (previously) on the Howard Stern Show, and that piqued his interest on having me as a more or less regular. He actually wanted me to be a regular on it, but I couldn't because my work is down here in southern California, in Hollywood. But, I thought on it and said, 'You know? If I'm going to be an advocate for GLBT equality, I don't want to just speak to the choir. We need to speak to the great unwashed.' Not to say that Howard's listeners are unwashed, but they're a different listenership. And Howard would give me that kind of access.
Howard is a champion of free speech, so I said to him, 'Well, I'll appear on his show whenever I can, whenever I can be in New York, but I do want to pursue my acting career, so I will not be a regular but I will make every effort to be as regular as I can on the show. And I appeared on his show and, sure enough, I got tremendous response from the listenership there. My e-mail just exploded. And they were very, very supportive and I got many from people who wrote that they were straight males, married, white, conservative, living in places like Oklahoma or Nebraska or North Carolina, but my conversations with Howard got them to thinking about the issue. They consider themselves fair-minded, decent people and he would be supportive of GLBT issues if they came up in his state or he would oppose anti-GLBT bills. So, Howard did give me access to that audience. But, at the same time, he gave me another kind of spotlight that I probably would not have had otherwise. So, Howard did play a part in giving my career that second wind.