George Takei has been on the forefront of the battle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality since coming out himself more than a decade ago. And while he would love to see Star Trek move forward and finally add a gay major character in time for its 50th anniversary, for Takei it’s more like anyone but Sulu.
The 79-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter Thursday that having John Cho’s version of Sulu come out as gay in the upcoming “Star Trek: Beyond” was “unfortunate.”
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” Takei told THR‘s Seth Abramovitch. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
That Gene to whom Takei is referring to is, of course, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who in his 25 years in the franchise, never set up a love interest for Sulu or talked about any immediate family in the canon of Star Trek. In fact, the only time Sulu’s family has come up was in 1994’s “Star Trek: Generations” when Jacqueline Kim played his daughter, Demora (a part that had originally been written for Takei, who declined to appear in the film). Sulu has a daughter, but nothing was said of Sulu being married, or even details about her mother in that particular film.
Simon Pegg and Doug Jung decided to explore Sulu’s family a little more in “Beyond,” keeping his daughter, but this time adding a spouse — a man.
Cho was so excited about this reveal he actually told Takei about it last year, the older actor said. Although Cho is not part of the writing team, Takei encouraged the actor to “be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who has been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.”
The actor said he wasn’t happy about the revelation, because he also talked to the “Beyond” director, Justin Lin, also discouraging him from making Sulu gay. When he lated got an email from Pegg, thanking him for his hard work in the equality movement.
After all that communication, Takei said he felt the change wouldn’t be made. But was surprised to learn last month from Cho that Sulu’s newly revealed sexuality was indeed still part of “Beyond.”
“I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed,” Takei said. “I thought after that conversation with Justin that was going to happen. Months later, when I got that email from Simon Pegg, I was kind of confused. He thinks I’m a great guy? Wonderful. But what was the point of that letter? I interpreted that as my words having been heard.”
Takei’s full interview can be read right here.
“Star Trek: Beyond” premieres July 22.