George Takei, celebrated actor, writer, and LGBT and Japanese-American activist, and his husband Brad premiered their web showIt Takeis Twoearlier this spring. The hilarious shtick reaches a comic climax today with the release of episode five, which may be the funniest set-up yet -- with special guest star Christina Bianco impersonating several Broadway legends in order to appease George's yearning for celebrity recognition as his Broadway show Allegiance approaches.
The "heightened reality-series" shows the inseparable pair laugh, struggle, and discuss things as varied as Liza Minnelli and kangaroo penises. While both men have perfect timing, it turns out Brad's the scene-stealer, making me howl every time he tries to navigate the world of iPhones and unflattering memes.
We caught up with both of the Takeis to talk about what prompted them to do the show, fighting for equality, and the magic of good editing.
Watch the new episode, "A Great First Impression," and read the interview below:
Out: It looks like you guys are having a lot of fun with It Takeis Two. Can you talk about what inspired the making of the show?
George: Well, our documentary, or should I say Jennifer Kirk's (director's) documentary, To Be Takei, premiered at Sundance last year. And that became a hit. And so that inspired us to work with Jay Kuo (executive producer/writer) on the web series.
So was bringing LGBT and biracial family dynamics into the media something that prompted you to do this as well? Or was it more just for entertainment?
George: Well, it was very much a part of our thought in doing To Be Takei. Particularly the LGBT aspect. We... you know, people still have stereotype images of a gay couple getting married. And we wanted to illustrate the normality, and sometimes the silliness, of our life which we think most people can identify with, and as it turns out indeed they do. And so that was very much at the basis for To Be Takei.
Brad: George answered it.
OK, Brad, this one is for you: I have to say I think you're the breakout star of this show, you're so funny on it. When George is talking about eating the kangaroo penis in episode 3, your face is just so great. So I wanted to ask: Have you acted before? You have an IMDB page, but...
Brad: The first thing I would say is I do not consider myself an actor, and I'm highly reliant, or dependent, on a good director who will just let the camera run and run and run and let me do my lines over and over again, and then in the editing process they create Brad's golden moments that you tell me you so enjoy. And the secret to my success is the editing process, where they edit me to make me look good.
George: I offer my comment on the filming process. Brad is very much a take-charge guy. And he completely takes charge of the shoot. He is directing the director. He goes "now we can say action." It's the funniest thing. The director doesn't say action. Brad tells the director "now say action." And he'll decide on his own "now it's time to cut."
Oh, that's great. That's fun. So Brad takes the helm a lot. Very cool. I know you've shared your story of how you met back in the '80s before, but do you mind explaining what the Frontrunners is and how it all happened?
Brad: George and I have been together as a committed couple for nearly 30 years, and the way we met each other was we were both really... very passionate about running. And George and I used to train each other to run marathons.
I read that he approached you, Brad, and asked you to train him. Is that correct?
Brad: George, did you approach me at L.A. Frontrunners and ask me to train you for the marathon?
George: Yes I did. Brad had run a few marathons already. And I had run none. And I wanted to test myself and needed someone to train me for the marathon. So I went up to Brad because he was the best trainer of all the runners, and asked him to train me.
Brad: We both discovered at that stage that we have a mutual passion for live theater, so we would go to live theater together. And then just eventually we grew to love each other. We've been together nearly thirty years but we've been married for almost eight years. We got married in California almost eight years ago.
You got married at the Japanese American National Museum. What was the wedding like?
Brad: Oh, it was the best day of my life. Really extraordinary to bring together friends, family, and colleagues to be getting married.
That's awesome. So what was your favorite scene in the web show to film?
The episode coming up this week [episode 5] is probably our best episode in the series so far. It has a lot of celebrity cameos. We have Christina Bianco, who does a bunch of impressions. And then Linda Carter, the lady who was Wonder Woman in the 1970's, makes a quick cameo, which is so cute.
It was such a funny episode, I loved it. And Christina is so talented at those impressions.
Brad: She really has a set of lungs. When we were standing next to her and she was doing those quick changes with the different impersonations... it was a sight to behold. I mean, she's a talented singer in her own right, of course, but the switch of gears instantaneously... it's a sight to behold. Watching her do transitions from Barbara Streisand to Celine Dion, it was just so much fun because it didn't force me to do anything but react. The thing I want to clarify about the web series is that... I call it "heightened reality" because we actually do have scripts. So it's sort of true to life because it's based on our relationship: that George is always optimistic and positive and I'm sort of a sourpuss. I mean in real life, there can be a 24-hour period where I'm actually a warm, nice human being, but for the purposes of the web series we decided that, well they just created me as always a sourpuss.
With so many web shows out there, what makes It Takeis Two stand out from the rest?
Brad: I think it's a work in progress. And we know that just traveling constantly across the country, that George has so many social media fans, combined with the sci-fi fans, combined with the LGBTQ fans, and all these different subcultures from different regions. They admire and like George. And his mission statement, or passion project, in life, or at this point in his career, is to really try as hard as he can to fight for equality for all Americans, for marriage equality, and we think giving people a taste of his private life, of his life with Brad, his husband, is sharing our lives, in a way, but also entertaining people at the same time. And ultimately we are hoping to reach those certain people in our culture that identify with George and Brad as real people, who really are married to each other, and... raise the subliminal question in people's hearts: "why are we discriminating against George and Brad exactly? They're nice people. We like them." And so that's sort of our submersive message that's behind these webisodes. So if you're saying to me right now, "Google, YouTube same-sex webisodes and you'll find a lot of them out there," and that's the case, I'd say all the power to anyone whose doing these right now. I think collectively the more the merrier. I think because George is such a name, we already have a special, pregrown base.
Check out all five episodes of It Takeis Two on their YouTube page.