George Takei and Stephen Colbert Celebrate Star Trek With a Red Alert

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Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Star Trek‘s premiere, so naturally super-nerd Stephen Colbert invited George Takei as a guest on The Late Show. The two talked about the difference between Broadway nerds (Takei made his debut this year in Allegiance) and sci-fi nerds and, of course, the legacy of Star Trek.

Takei describes his first day as Sulu, which he calls unforgettable and “very very special.” His account reminds us what Star Trek was all about and how it’s message still rings true half a century later.

We were all introduced and Gene explained to us what Star Trek was all about. He said the Starship Enterprise was a metaphor for Starship Earth, and the strength of this starship lay in its diversity coming together. The acronym was infinite diversity in infinite combination, I.D.I.C., and we were each to represent different parts of the planet and working together, seeing a common challenge we have, confident of our problem-solving capabilities, our genius for invention, innovation, we were going to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Colbert joking goes on to ask Takei what “the sexy, green-skinned alien babes in the bikinis represent?” and the two discuss how half-alien Spock was the product of an interracial/intergalactic marriage, something quite “racy for the 1960s.” You can see the fanboy delight on Colbert’s face when Takei compliments him for knowing his Star Trek as the two discuss Vulcan mating rituals (“you pronounce it like a Vulcan!”).

The two also talked about how the attacks on the Enterprise were done not with special effects, but by having a director yell at the actors to go left or right to make the ship look like it was moving. (Youtube user Danny Rogers hilariously stabilized these moments in “Turn Down for Spock” to show us what these moments probably looked like in front of the camera.) Colbert then puts the studio on “red alert” and the two reenact it, after which the host says, “I can’t wait to go back in time and tell my childhood self I got to do that with you.”

I loved watching this segment because of how delightful the whole thing is, and how unrestrained the audience and Colbert are in their excitement. At the end, he shakes Takei’s hand and says, “Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for your whole career. Thank you for Star Trek.”

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