Ahead of its release later this month, actor John Cho has revealed that Star Trek Beyond will casually reveal that Hikaru Sulu is in a same-sex relationship, in a nod to original Star Trek star George Takei.
“I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it,” Cho tells Herald Sun, “Which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations.”
However, it seems that Takei himself isn’t overly impressed by the decision to make Sulu gay, describing it as “unfortunate” in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” states Takei. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
Takei said that he instead urged the filmmakers to create an original gay character, adding that:
“”I told him, ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.’ I said, ‘This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character.’ I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen.”
UPDATE: Screenwriter Simon Pegg has now responded to Takei’s comments in an interview with The Guardian, saying:
“He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character,’ rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?
“Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic. Also, the audience would infer that there has been an LGBT presence in the Trek Universe from the beginning (at least in the Kelvin timeline), that a gay hero isn’t something new or strange. It’s also important to note that at no point do we suggest that our Sulu was ever closeted, why would he need to be? It’s just hasn’t come up before.”
“Star Trek Beyond,” the highly anticipated next installment in the globally popular Star Trek franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry and reintroduced by J.J. Abrams in 2009, returns with director Justin Lin (“The Fast and the Furious” franchise) at the helm of this epic voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise and her intrepid crew. In “Beyond,” the Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.
Star Trek Beyond is set for release on July 22nd and features returning cast members Chris Pine as James Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Zoë Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as Bones, John Cho as Sulu and Anton Yelchin as Chekov alongside new additions Idris Elba (Luther), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Joe Taslim (The Raid), Lydia Wilson (About Time) and Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog).