"We had many different kinds of tensions, certainly the tension between the government and the Japanese American community," said The Terror co-star and internment survivor George Takei (he plays an elder named Yamato-san). "But the Japanese American community during pre-War times was an immigrant community, an immigrant generation. There was a tension between the immigrants who brought with them the old country's customs, rituals, and superstitions and the American-born generation that was trying to be -- well, not trying to be… they were -- Americans. And they thought, that's old country superstition. It was a legitimate tension between the generations."
As a child, from the ages of 5 to 8, Takei lived with his parents behind barbed wire in an Arkansas prison camp. It wasn't until his teenage years that he learned the true nature of this childhood "adventure" to the country, and all these years later, the 82-year-old actor still holds onto these vivid memories, which he used to help guide the accuracy of the story, both on-screen and off. "Part of my job was to verify things as I remembered them," he humbly offered.
Derek Mio, who plays the central role of Chester in the show, is the audience's entry-point to this story. Using his own grandfathers, who lived in Terminal Island and through the internment, as inspiration, the opportunity to play this character and tell this story was, as he put it, "the most challenging, but gratifying acting experience I've ever had."
"This is such a crucial time in Japanese American history," Mio continued. "Because when the war breaks out, we look like the enemy. So the fact that we look like that… we were of Japanese ancestry, but we're Americans, it just makes it that much more conflicted."
Paying attention to authenticity and facts were of the highest priority here, as the show not only is exploring an underrepresented time in our nation's disturbing history -- this is, in fact, the first time the internment is being told in such a medium -- The Terror pays homage to the beautiful intricacies of Japanese culture and the survivors of this atrocity.