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To Be Takei (film)

DVD cover. Courtesy of Rainbow Shooting Star Pictures LLC
View in the Densho Encyclopedia

Documentary film that profiles actor George Takei and his husband and manager Brad Takei, capturing both their pasts and their daily lives today.

Director Jennifer M. Kroot structures the film around glimpses of the couple's everyday life—walks through the neighborhood, going to the barbershop, appearances on the Howard Stern show, working on the Allegiance play, and attending various events—using references to specific aspects of their lives to delve deeper into those topics in a non-chronological fashion. These include the impact on George of growing up in an American concentration camp; each man's early recognition of same-sex attractions and their differing experiences in coming out; the impact of George's celebrity; the origins of Allegiance ; George's early acting career and the dilemma of the stereotypical "Oriental" roles of the time; on being gay and a TV star; on George's role in Star Trek ; George's political career; George's involvement in the Redress Movement and testimony before the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians ; the couple's efforts to change gay marriage laws and their subsequent wedding; and George's unlikely rise as a social media star as a senior citizen. To Be Takei concludes with the couple attending a Rohwer pilgrimage and with the premiere of Allegiance in San Diego.

A significant amount of time is devoted to the wartime incarceration, largely through clips of George speaking about it at various events including details on the family's " no-no " status and transfer to Tule Lake and the difficulties they faced in returning to Los Angeles after the war. In his speeches, he links the civil liberties violations he experienced as a Japanese American to marriage equality for same sex partners. At the Rohwer pilgrimage, George talks about criticizing his father after the war for acquiescing to the roundup and the regret he subsequently felt and how he sees Allegiance as in part an effort to repay his debt to his parents.

To Be Takei premiered in January 2014 at the Sundance Film Festival. Critical reaction to the film was largely positive. The review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes found 42 out of 46 reviews observed to be positive for a 91% Tomatometer rating. [1]

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Yuki Shimoda: Asian American Actor (1985); The Slanted Screen (2006); You Don't Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story (2009)


  1. Angry Asian Man blog, Jan. 14, 2014, ; Rotten Tomatoes, , both accessed on August 17, 2016.
Media Details
Release Date 2014
Runtime 94 minutes
Director Jennifer M. Kroot
Producer Gerry Kim
Writer Jennifer M. Kroot
Starring George Takei, Brad Takei, William Shatner (interviewee), Leonard Nimoy (interviewee), John Cho (interviewee), Dan Savage (interviewee), Tom Ammiano (interviewee), Daniel Inouye (interviewee), Nancy Takei (interviewee), Dan Parent (interviewee), Glenda Morris (interviewee), Jay Kuo (interviewee), Lorenzo Thione (interviewee), B.D. Wong (interviewee), Nichelle Nichols (interviewee), Will Wheaton, Telly Leung (interviewee), Lea Salonga (interviewee), Norman Mineta (interviewee), Mark Leno (interviewee), Brian Altman, Walter Koenig (interviewee), Ryan Tate (interviewee)
Music Michael Hearst
Cinematography Chris Million
Editing Bill Weber
Studio Rainbow Shooting Star Pictures LLC
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