Although quite small in comparison to the behemoth San Diego Comic-Con, which was held on the same weekend (July 9-12, 2015), ConnectiCon drew its largest crowd of the weekend for a question and answer panel with George Takei (Star Trek‘s Hikaru Sulu).
Entering the Main Events room of the Connecticut Convention Center while doing a double Vulcan Salute on Sunday, July 12th, Takei was received with a standing ovation from throngs of fans. He then smiled and said his classic phrase: “Ohhh my.”
“We [Star Trek] are hitting 50 years – our golden anniversary – and we owe that to the original fans. I know you’re out there…yes, you with no hair,” Takei teased, to a big laugh from the audience. The actor and activist spent some time honoring those in the Star Trek community who were lost this year including Leonard Nimoy, Grace Lee Whitney, and Harve Bennett.
Speaking at length about close friend Nimoy, Takei shared some memories. Nimoy created both the Vulcan Salute and the Vulcan Nerve Pinch while on set as Spock. The salute comes from “a Jewish ritual“ Nimoy remembered from childhood. The nerve pinch was imagined after Spock was directed to “punch an adversary,” but in true character, Nimoy said, “Oh no, that’s illogical.” Takei explained, “They [Vulcans] would use the most efficient way of making that adversary non active – the nerve ear – the Spock pinch.” A lifelong friendship was forged, and Nimoy attended many of the theater productions in which Takei starred.
“We made a musical about the internment of Japanese Americans during the war,” Takei said. Nimoy was in the audience and had to make his way through the entire cast, who were all fans, before he could see his friend. “You were terrific,” he said. In an exciting development, Takei announced to the crowd, “That’s going to be on Broadway this Fall. I consider it my legacy project, although it’s really my parents’ experience. It fills me with a real sense of fulfillment and joy.”
Answering many fan questions, Takei gave the news that he will be writing another autobiography (his first was To the Stars) titled Down to Earth. The new book will delve into his life, picking up where the last book left off, and in particular, his journey as a gay man in Hollywood (and subsequent coming out in 2005).
When asked about the pressures and scrutiny among his 1.69 million followers on Twitter and 8.7 million “Likes” on Facebook, Takei said, “I love it…I stand up on a number of issues. It’s a gift that you’ve given me.” He went on to acknowledge “trolls” and how some comments can certainly hurt.
Considering the recent public firestorm regarding his comment referring to Justice Clarence Thomas as a “clown in blackface,” Takei was not afraid to address it. Although he already has publicly referred to his words as “regrettable,” he explained the situation more fully to the panel attendees.
Takei not only took Thomas’ comments personally as a member of the gay community, but he was also “angry” in response to the U.S. Justice’s using the example of Japanese-Americans in internment camps after World War II. Takei was just a boy when men took his family at gunpoint from his house in Los Angeles. “I still remember my mother crying as she carried my baby sister who was less than one year old and a duffle bag,” he recalled.
As time ran out, Takei thanked the audience and closed by signing the Vulcan Salute to all.