Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Paws Of Fury's George Takei Thinks It's Important For Him To Be An Activist - Exclusive

Fans and the general public alike will recognize George Takei for his iconic portrayal of Hikaru Sulu, Enterprise helmsman (and later, Excelsior captain) on the original "Star Trek," plus an animated follow-up series and six feature films. But Takei's post-"Star Trek" career has been diverse and colorful, ranging from voiceover work to recurring roles on other sci-fi series ("Heroes") to an appearance on the U.K. survival reality show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!"

He's returned to voiceover work for his latest role in the new animated film "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank." Based loosely on the 1974 Mel Brooks-directed comedy "Blazing Saddles," the film tells the story of a dog named Hank (Michael Cera) who is appointed samurai to protect a town of cats — all so a local ruler (Ricky Gervais) can sow discord in the town and eventually displace it. Takei plays Ohga, the villain's loyal if dim-witted henchman who eventually has a change of heart.

Perhaps Takei's most important role in his later years, however, has been that of activist. Since coming out in 2005 as gay, Takei has worked on behalf of LGBTQ+ rights and (via The Progressive) helped push back against legislation banning same-sex marriage. He has also labored to increase awareness of a dark chapter of World War II history during which innocent Japanese Americans — including Takei and his own family (via Huffpost) — were hauled into internment camps when their loyalty to the U.S. was questioned.

As a result, Takei says that even a lighthearted animated film like "Paws of Fury" reflects the larger role that activism has played in his life. "We live in a turbulent society," he told Looper. "The lessons to be learned from history are ways to deal with the problems of today."

Takei on supporting the issues he believes in

Several of the issues that George Takei fervently addresses as an activist are ones that have affected him personally, such as LGBTQ+ rights and the wrongful imprisoning of Japanese Americans.

Takei explained, "I, as a child, was imprisoned in the American barbed wire prison camps because we happen to look just like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor. I've been an activist on that as well as the fact that I'm gay ... through most of my adult life, I was closeted and it's by actively participating — I came out in 2005, very late — when I was 68, I came out, and I worked with the human rights campaign to work for equality for LGBT people."

Noting that "there are lessons to be learned from history," Takei said that the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and against bigotry are issues that are still ongoing even now. Adding that at the moment the United States seems "very fractured," Takei elaborated, "Every breaking news [story] on TV or the front page of the newspaper ... there you are, the turbulence of our society."

But the actor is also optimistic that even a movie like "Paws of Fury" can enlighten people through its positive message of diverse groups of people coming together to help each other. "How much more entertaining a way can you resurrect history than with anime, via entertainment? Engage and entertain, not just people, but families coming together and in the theaters because we've been out of theaters for more than two years because of COVID, and this brings us together as a community of moviegoers and seeing this entertaining and hilarious, laugh-out-loud and enlightening movie."

"Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank" is in theaters now.