Star Trek's George Takei on why 'Paws of Fury' is so important

Star Trek's George Takei has opened up about his latest film and why it's so close to his heart. PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK In cinemas now.

Video transcript

- [INAUDIBLE] a theory, The Legend of Hank.

GEORGE TAKEI: It's a hilarious, laugh out loud comedy about a land far away that's all cats, except for one dog. It's a funny, funny comedy that all the ages, little kids, middle-aged kids, and grown up kids, can enjoy. Peasant Village has hired a samurai dog to protect them. Can you imagine how cats and dogs get along? And so this dog is defending this Peasant Village. And I've got to deal with that dog.

- The only thing left to solve is our little problem.


- Precisely. What do you do when you're a landlord and you have tenants you really hate? You evict them.

- But the town's been there for thousands of years.

- I give you an order and you give me facts. Really? The only fact I'm interested in is that, that hairball of a town is ruining my magnificent view.

GEORGE TAKEI: So we didn't work with other actors. And that's what I like about acting-- to develop a rapport with other actors and developing a scene. I was probably in New York, and Ricky Gervais was probably in either London or Los Angeles. It was just me and the recording technicians in a studio recording my part, and Ricky went into the sound studio with his recording, sound man, and the technicians.

And it's magic. And the talent of the editor, putting those two voices together, and getting the rhythm and the pregnant pauses, and the hilarity-- well, the hilarity we create. And it sounds like we're both laughing together, happy, but we're many time apart and distance apart from each other, all together, working in a scene.

I'm absolutely delighted that our movies are becoming much more inclusive of the diversity of our society. As a matter of fact, back in 1966, "Star Trek" led the way for that kind of view of our future. We saw this spectacular, futuristic Starship called the USS Enterprise. And the strength of that Starship lay in the diversity of this planet Earth. People from North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, men, women, mature people, young, dynamic people, all coming together, working as a team.

And that was a strength of the Starship Enterprise. That was the metaphor for Starship Earth, so that they could boldly go where no one had gone before. It was a very positive view of our future, and in a wonderful cartoon way of-- "Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank" is all that. Cats and dogs getting together. Tiny little lords and big, fat, obese henchmen and a dog samurai, Oh learning to live with each other. And then ultimately, we all get together to live long and prosper.

When I was little, I really didn't understand why we were in prison. Too young. I was five years old, and when we were released, I was eight years old. However, when people are terrorized, they do irrational, horrible things. And that's what happened in America after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Pearl Harbor killed over 2,400 people. 20 ships were sunk, eight of them, major battleships. And the terror of that swept across the Pacific and across the United States and Canada.

And people were terrorized and they acted irrationally. They looked at Japanese-Americans with suspicion, and fear, and outright hatred. It was a horrible time, when Japanese-Americans walking down the street would be yelled at, spat, at and assaulted. Our businesses, our homes, our cars, were graffitied. It was a terrible time. And it wasn't just the ignorant racists that behaved in this way. The shock and the fear of that bombing affected even our politicians and our government, which is supposed to be a democracy.

Equal justice under the law lost it, and they acted hysterically. Politicians began to say horrible things about us. The attorney general, the top lawyer of California, said, we have no reports of spying, or sabotage, or fifth column activities by Japanese-Americans. But the Japanese are inscrutable. You can't tell what they're thinking. So it would be prudent to lock them up before they do anything. That is outrageous-- to lock them up before they do anything.

But that thinking affected even the President of the United States. And that's why Japanese-Americans were imprisoned. The President became terrified. And he had all Japanese-Americans rounded up and put in 10 barbwire prison camps. And so there's an important lesson to be learned from history. And that's why the other side of me-- I'm an actor and a voice actor, but I also am a political activist.

And they created a commission where I testify about my childhood. I made a report to the President saying that the cause of the internment was, one, war hysteria, two, racial prejudice, and three, the failure of political leadership. And the President got that report. And in 1988, President Ronald Reagan apologized for that imprisonment and paid a $20,000 token recompense. So I learned about America when I was a teenager from my father and ultimately, the ideals of American democracy worked. But people have to learn that lesson.