‘The Terror: Infamy’ Star George Takei Recalls Japanese Internment Camp Experience – ATX

ATX Festival goers were treated to a screening of the first episode from the second season of AMC’s anthology series, The Terror: Infamy. It is set during World War II and centers on a series of bizarre deaths that haunt a Japanese-American community, and a young man’s journey to understand and combat the malevolent entity responsible.

George Takei, one of the stars of the 10-episode season, who also serves as a consulting producer, shared his personal connection to the project, having been imprisoned as a child in a Japanese-American internment camp.

“I consider this chapter of American history, the imprisonment of Japanese Americans simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor, to be an important chapter of American history and it is my life mission to raise the awareness,” Takei expressed.

Sharing some insight into his experience of incarceration from age 5 to 8, the Star Trek alum called it an “adventure of discovery” recalling being transported to the swamps of Arkansas, which at the time felt like an “exotic” environment.

“It was when I became a teenager and became very curious about our imprisonment that I became a voracious reader in trying to learn as much as I could but I couldn’t find anything in the history books,” said Takei, who later turned to his father for more insight. “He was the one that shared his experience, his pain, his anguish.”

Takei was joined on stage by the show’s costume designer and Director of Photography, J.R. Hawbaker and John Conroy respectively, as well as co-creator and showrunner Alexander Woo.

Woo talked about striking the balance between staying true to the historical facts while mixing in elements of Japanese mythology.

“From the historical side, I recognize we had a responsibility because there has been criminally very little done on screen about the internment. Even though a lot of people may have read about it in history books, very few people have seen what it looks like inside of an internment camp… we have a great responsibility to show these in as much detail, as accurately as possible,” said Woo.

He continued: “On the horror side, the strategy of the show has always been to use the genre of Japanese ghost stories” as well as Japanese horror films like The Ring, “as an analogy for the terror of the historical experience. Rather then telling the story from a 3,500 foot docu-drama level, I want to tell it from a very personal level, a micro level so that you feel like you’re in the skin of these people and build an empathy for them…the terror you feel watching your favorite horror movie will be analogous to the terror of what these people will went through.”

The show predominantly features performers of Japanese ancestry but the underlying story is to be universal. “I plugged into it as an immigrant story, said Woo, who is Chinese American. “I think you don’t have to be Japanese-American to relate to what’s going on.”

The Terror: Infamy premieres Monday, August 12 on AMC.

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