John Cho, George Takei, Star Trek

Paramount Pictures, CBS via Getty Images

Star Trek alum George Takei, who is gay, had a surprising, less than enthusiastic response about the big reveal that Hikaru Sulu, the character he originated in the '60s, shares the same sexual orientation in Star Trek Beyond.

John Cho, 44, who plays him in the upcoming film, the third in a reboot series, revealed in a recent interview that Sulu and a male partner are parents to a daughter. Sulu is now the first on-air gay character in the Star Trek franchise. Cho said Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin and co-writer Simon Pegg, who also plays Scotty, had made the decision as a partial nod to Takei.

"I'm delighted that there's a gay character," the 79-year-old actor told The Hollywood Reporter. "Unfortunately, it's a twisting of Gene's creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate." 

George Takei

Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Takei, who came out in 2005 and is married to a man, was referring to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who died in 1991. The actor told The Hollywood Reporter that the man had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.

John Cho, Sulu, Star Trek Beyond, GIF

Paramount Pictures

Simon Pegg, Star Trek Beyond

Paramount Pictures

"I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humor are an inspiration," Pegg, 46, told The Guardian in response to Takei's comments. "However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him."

"I don't believe Gene Roddenberry's decision to make the prime timeline's Enterprise crew straight was an artistic one, more a necessity of the time," he added.

Takei also told The Hollywood Reporter that Cho had told him about Sulu's sexuality last year. He said then "urged" the Star Trek Beyond director to "honor" Roddenberry and "create a new character" who is gay instead of Sulu. Lin has not commented.

"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," Pegg told The Guardian. "And isn't that tokenism?"

"Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details," he added. "Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere."

Zachary Quinto, Mr. Spock, Star Trek

Star Trek film star Zachary Quinto, 39, also weighed in on Sulu's sexuality reveal, as well as Takei's response. Quinto is gay in real life, while in the movie reboots, his character, Spock, is involved romantically with his co-worker, Uhura, played by  Zoe Saldana.

"As a member of the LGBT community myself...I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed," he told pedestrian.tv. "I think any member of the LGBT community that takes issue with the normalized and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema."

"I get it that he's had his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with this character, but you know, as we established in the first Star Trek in 2009, we've created an alternate universe," he said. "My hope is that eventually, George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be."

Pegg also told The Guardian the Star Trek Beyond 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."

Many minor characters are members of the LGBT community in Star Trek novels and comic books. In addition, androgynous species have been introduced on Star Trek TV shows and one of them, the '90s series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, had famously featured a female-to-female kiss, although the context of it was unusual.

Terry Farrell, Susanna Thompson, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Kiss

Paramount Pictures

Meanwhile, Sulu's daughter has been seen before as well—she appears as an adult in the 1994 movie Star Trek: Generations.

Jacqueline Kim, George Takei, Star Trek

Paramount Pictures

Referencing a 1995 Star Trek novel, Takei said her mother was a "glamazon"-like woman with whom Sulu had a one-night stand. However, her parentage and her dad's love life was never explored on-screen.

"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?" Pegg told The Guardian. "It's just hasn't come up before."

  • Share
  • Tweet

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.