George Takei Calls Star Trek Beyond's Gay Sulu 'Really Unfortunate'
Although George Takei is "delighted that there's a gay character," he says it's a "twisting" of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's vision for Sulu
John Cho, who plays Hikaru Sulu in the current film franchise, told Australia’s Herald Sun this week that the iconic character will be revealed to be in a same-sex relationship in the upcoming installment, Star Trek Beyond.
“I think it’s really unfortunate,” Takei, 79, told The Hollywood Reporter, saying that the outing would have gone against Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the character in the popular ’60s television series.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought,” he explained.
Takei also revealed that he had suggested to Roddenberry back in 1968 that the socially minded science-fiction series should explore the gay equality conversation. He was still closeted at the time.
“He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” Takei recalled, “But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope – and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air.”
The original Star Trek series was cancelled in 1969, after three seasons and 79 episodes.
Cho, meanwhile, said he supported the character’s new sexual orientation.
“I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out [of] it,” the 44-year-old actor told the Sun. “[This] is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations.”
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Cho had called Takei to reveal the news last year. But instead of being met with excitement and support, Cho was met with opposition, as Takei tried to convince him to make a new character gay instead.
“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,’ ” Takei told the Reporter.
“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 continued.
Takei said he left the conversation feeling he had gotten through to Cho, and that the plot point would be changed. However, he found out it was “not going to change” last month, when Cho informed him of the news prior to heading out on the film’s promotional tour.
Takei adds that Sulu’s sexuality now interrupts the timeline logic of the series. Since the new films take place before the original TV series, they now suggest that Sulu was gay and married before going into the closet later.
Since coming out in 2005, Takei has been an outspoken member of the community and LGBTQ activist.
Star Trek Beyond hits theaters July 22.