BAAFF: How did you get connected to George Takei?
Kroot: You know, like a lot of people, I was always a fan of Star Trek. Then as George became an LGBT activist and he started making more appearances where he spoke about his personal struggle, I just became charmed and intrigued. Here was a man who came out later in life, and really embraced it. I had already read his autobiography and just became sort of obsessed with his life! I had previously made a documentary and so I wrote his agent, who just happened to be a fan of my previous feature, and I was forwarded to George and Brad (his husband). Then over about six months, we had a lot of back and forth discussing how to do the documentary.
BAAFF: How long did you film for?
Kroot: We filmed for over two and a half years. There were big gaps during that time, of course, but it did take a long time to orchestrate who to interview, events to attend, and all during that time their lives continued to accelorate. Geroge is even more in demand now than while we were filming! He's always traveling to engagements and events. And during the downtime he and Brad has, they're always going on walks and keeping busy together. Such an interesting personal dynamic between those two.
BAAFF: You previously read his autobiography. Did his struggles as an Asian in America surprise you in any way?
Kroot: What George wen through as an Asian American in Hollywood at the time was hard, no doubt about it. There were almost no leading man roles for Asians. It's gotten better, but there are still much fewer roles out there for Asian actors. You still are often asked to do an accent. Sometimes, that makes sense, the world is obviously international, but sometimes it doesn't. I think today George is beyond that now since he's an icon, but he's an actor and he still wants to pursue roles that challenge him. That's why he was a part of the all-Asian musical [Allegiance: A New American Musical] which he struggled to get funding for. People don't want to bet money on a new thing.
BAAFF: What do you think George's key to success and endurance is?
Kroot: He's just relentless. He's in his late seventies and still relentless! I wish I could get some of whatever he's on. George is a very positive person. I know people assume that, but he's really like that in real life. From fans to a random cab driver, he always has a "yes" attitude and is open with his positive life advice. That voice is just in him. I believe he got that from his father; being in concentration camps, you have to make the best of things in every situation; that's the Japanese concpet of gaman which means "enduring with dignity." Then later, when your situation changes, you fight injustice and move forward. Having been in both a literal and society prison in his life, when he came out of both, he never looked back.
BAAFF: What do you think is the message that came out of this documentary?
Kroot: I mean, it would have been impossible to tell a story about George that didn't include his positivity. Also, you get the sense that your ability to do good and affect change in the world is never over. Even when you're older, you can choose to still be engaged and still make positive impacts. There's a lot of darkness in the world, and it's so great to see someone like him. It's also great to see his relationship with Brad, which has endured over 25 years.
BAAFF: Best iteration of Star Trek. Go.
Kroot: Original series, of course! As for the films, George was a captain in the sixth movie, but I really like the fourth one. I mean, it's in San Francisco (where I live!), there's an environmental message, and it's a funny film.
BAAFF: What projects are you working on next?
Kroot: I have a couple things in development, but I don't want to jinx them by talking about it!
Thanks Jennifer! We look forward to whatever you are working on next!
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