Actor George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu for more than two decades in the Star Trek television and film franchise, is less than enthused that the character will be revealed to be gay in the upcoming film Star Trek Beyond, even though Takei is gay himself.
Actor John Cho, who plays Sulu in the updated films, revealed in an interview Thursday that Beyond screenwriter Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin decided to make the character gay as a tribute to Takei, who came out in 2005 after having hidden his sexuality for decades and has since become a prominent LGBT activist.
Cho said the film will reveal Sulu to be in a committed relationship with a man, and the two will have a daughter.
But in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Takei, 79, said that he was disappointed to learn of the change.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” the actor told the Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of [Star Trek creator] Gene [Roddenberry]’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
Takei told the outlet that he requested the filmmaking team create a new character in the franchise who could be gay, instead of Sulu.
“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,” Takei said. “I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen.”
But, as Cho revealed this week, it didn’t.
Screenwriter Simon Pegg, who also co-stars as Scotty in the film, said in a statement that while he has “huge love and respect” for Takei, he stands by his decision to make Sulu gay.
“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?” Pegg wrote.
Meanwhile, actor Zachary Quinto, who stars as Spock in the film, added his own statement Friday: “As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed.”
“I get it. He has 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 film in 2009, we’ve created an alternate universe,” Quitno wrote. “And 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.”
Star Trek Beyond is in theaters July 22.
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