“We were absolutely delighted when we learned that To Be Takei had been accepted at Sundance that we were going to a marriage equality state,” says George Takei, “and then things started happening.” The Star Trek and Celebrity Apprentice alumni, who has a docu on his life premiering at the festival Saturday, is referring to the court-ordered halt this month to Utah’s brief legalization of same sex-marriages. Specifically, the politically active actor and Howard Stern regular is no fan of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. “He consciously and mean-spiritedly refused to recognize the marriages that already happened,” Takei says of Herbert’s stance on the more than 1300 same-sex marriages that took place in Utah between the overturning of the state’s ban late last year and their stoppage during appeal. “I’m stunned by his stupidity. Apparently he believes in governing by hysteria — that’s the only way it can interpreted,” the actor says. “This governor now is trying to put the toothpaste that’s been squeezed out back into the tube. It’s something that can’t be done.” Takei says he and his husband sparked to the idea of a documentary after filmmaker Jennifer Kroot approached them three years ago. “We thought the timing would amazing,” he recalls. “Important historically events were happening in the progress of equality for the LGBT community and so to have this chronicled would be a fantastic thing to have, and so we agreed to do it. And here we are premiering in a state that still reflects that struggle that we have.” Here’s an exclusive first-look at the pic:
Not that marriage equality — no matter how well-known Takei has become (again) because of the issue — is the sole focus of To Be Takei. “When you see the film you will see both an entertaining and thought provoking documentary on us,” he says, “which covers the history of my life from my childhood imprisonment in barbed wire prison camps to my acting career to our struggle for equality in America and trying to make our democracy a truer and better democracy.” It also is not the only docu that centers on the subject of same-sex marriage to be premiering at Sundance this year. HBO’s The Case Against 8, directed by by former Paramount exec Ben Cotner and Ryan White, tracks the successful battle to overturn the California amendment that banned same sex marriage all the way to the Supreme Court.
The Sundance Film Festival runs until January 26.