George Takei is best known for playing Hikaru Sulu in “Star Trek: The Original Series” and subsequent “Star Trek” films and animated series, but he is much more than just one role.
The actor’s illustrious career has spanned six decades and included different film, video game and TV roles.
When he was hired as the show’s Lt. Hikaru Sulu, he realized the importance of “Star Trek.”
“Gene Roddenberry created an extraordinary show back in the ’60s. We premiered in 1966. That was a turbulent time in America. The civil rights movement was going on. The Vietnam War was going on in Southeast Asia, and we were at the coldest point in the Cold War,” he said.
Roddenberry wanted to make a statement about that condition. In order to do that and get it on TV, he had to be creative. He chose the 23rd century, 300 years in the future, and created a utopian kind of society, Takei said.
“The strength of the starship lay in people coming from many different continents, many different cultures, races, faiths, many different histories, all working together,” he explained, noting:
“Many young Asian Americans saw me as a hero and an icon for them because they had never seen an Asian American playing a heroic role, a member of the leadership team of that starship. I was very mindful of the responsibility that I had. Each one of us carried that same kind of responsibility and pride in the characters that we played.”
Takei is also a long-time social activist who for most of his life has fought for social justice and equality for underrepresented people, including the LGBT community.
Takei and his costars Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig will visit Phoenix for the Phoenix Fan Fusion comic and pop culture convention, which runs from Thursday, May 23, to Sunday, May 26.
During the convention, attendees can meet with prominent sci-fi and fantasy actors and comic book creators; dress up in cosplay and meet other enthusiasts; learn more about local cosplay groups; attend panels and workshops on comic book, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, cosplay and gaming topics; play video, card and table top games against others; shop for one-of-a-kind and vintage items and take part in after-party events.
Now put on by Square Egg Entertainment, the event started as Phoenix Cactus Comicon in 2002 and has also been known as Phoenix Comicon and Phoenix Comic Fest.
Square Egg Entertainment’s Kristin Rowan said, “Most comic conventions have evolved into events that have much more than just comic books. There are still very comic-centric conventions, but so many of them have embraced things like gaming, anime, cosplay and all of these other things. Fan Fusion seems to encompass that. Every year, we look ‘what are people really clambering for and what do people love from their childhood?’”
For fans, conventions such as Phoenix Fan Fusion offer the chance to meet, take pictures with and get autographs from actors who touched their lives in some way.
The Phoenix convention will also host Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from “Game of Thrones,” Jeff Goldblum from the “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” series and the “Independence Day” saga, Elijah Wood from “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy, Robin Lord Taylor from “Gotham,” SpongeBob SquarePants voice actor Tom Kenny, Matthew Lewis from “The Harry Potter” film series, Catherine Tate from “Dr. Who,” Jack Skellington voice actor Chris Sarandon and Ray Park from “Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace.”
Phoenix Fan Fusion, Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third Street, Phoenix, phoenixfanfusion.com, 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m., Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday, May 26, $20-$45 for day pass, $85 for full event pass, $350 for VIP pass, $10 for sidekick pass for children 3 to 12, free for children 2 and under. Prices go up $5 for single-day passes, $10 for full-event passes and $50 for VIP passes closer to the event.