Sulu Is Gay In "Star Trek Beyond," And It's Causing A Surprising Controversy
Out actor George Takei, who originally played Lt. Sulu, called the creative decision “really unfortunate,” prompting strong responses from screenwriter and actor Simon Pegg and out actor Zachary Quinto.
For the first time in the franchise’s 50-year history, Star Trek is featuring a major openly LGBT character: John Cho’s character Lt. Hikaru Sulu has a husband and young daughter in Star Trek Beyond, BuzzFeed News has confirmed.
“I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it,” Cho told Australia’s Herald Sun while in Sydney for Beyond‘s world premiere on July 7.
“[It] is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,” he added.
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The original actor who played Sulu, George Takei, famously came out in 2005. But in an interview on Thursday with The Hollywood Reporter, Takei said he thought the decision to make Sulu gay was “really unfortunate.”
The actor — who has been with his husband Brad Takei (né Altman) for 29 years — explained that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, who Takei said “was a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” had conceived of Sulu as a heterosexual character. And despite the fact that Sulu never had a female romantic or sexual partner throughout the original TV series and Star Trek movies, Takei felt Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin and screenwriters Simon Pegg and Doug Jung should honor Roddenberry’s choice, especially given the franchise’s 50th anniversary.
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Takei told THR that he actively lobbied Cho and Lin to not make Sulu gay after they had both privately informed him of the decision last year while Star Trek Beyond was in production.
Takei said he was left to believe that his wishes were heeded, especially after receiving a supportive email from Pegg. But he said an email from Cho last week made clear the filmmakers had moved forward with their plans.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” Takei told THR. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
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