Takei Plays Professor in Tom Hanks’ New Film

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Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) is busted by Dr. Matsutani (George Takei). (Universal Studios)

Actor George Takei has a supporting role in “Larry Crowne,” a romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. It opens July 1.

Hanks, who also directed, co-wrote and co-produced the film, plays Larry Crowne, who is downsized from a big-box company where he has spent his entire career. Enrolling at his local college to start over, he becomes part of a colorful community of outcasts trying to find a better future for themselves, and develops a crush on one of his instructors, Mercedes Tainot (Roberts), who has lost her passion for teaching.

Takei, best known for his iconic role of Sulu in the original “Star Trek,” plays Larry’s pompous but encouraging economics professor, Dr. Ed Matsutani. Hanks has said that he’s been a “Star Trek” fan since childhood.

Says Takei of his preparation for his latest role, “There’s a little bit of John Houseman, the college professor in ‘The Paper Chase’ (a movie and TV series about law school), in Dr. Matsutani. I also mixed in one of my English lit professors from UCLA. I tap into people I know and some of the things that I have in me.”

He jokes, “I hope people don’t think I’ve got the ego of a Dr. Matsutani. Although I am brilliant, and people would be wise to follow my guidance.”

The cast also includes Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Cedric the Entertainer (“Barbershop”), Taraji P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Undercovers”), Wilmer Valderrama (“That ’70s Show”) and Pam Grier (“Jackie Brown”).

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