George Takei thinks it’s “unfortunate” the character Sulu, who he made famous in the original “Star Trek” T.V. series, will be openly gay in the upcoming film “Star Trek Beyond.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Star Trek Beyond” director Justin Lin and Simon Pegg, who wrote the screenplay and plays Scotty in the revival films, decided to honor Takei’s LGBT activism. In “Star Trek Beyond,” they included a scene of Sulu raising a child with his husband.
While Takei wanted a gay character included in the franchise, he tells The Hollywood Reporter he didn’t want it to be Sulu.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” Takei says. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
Takei says he learned about Sulu’s new character development when John Cho, who plays Sulu in the reboot, called and told him. Takei asked Cho to give the background to another character.
“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 says.
When Lin told Takei the news, the actor again made his feelings known on the decision.
“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 left me feeling that that was going to happen,” Takei says.
Pegg printed a statement in The Guardian saying that while he loves and respects Takei, he “must respectfully disagree with him.” Pegg says creating a new gay character would be tokenism because the character would only be known for being gay.
“Justin Lin, Doug Jung and I loved the idea of it being someone we already knew because the audience have a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice. Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic,” Pegg writes.
Pegg continued that there were never plans to suggest Sulu was closeted in the T.V. series, but it “just hasn’t come up before.”
“Star Trek Beyond” hits theatres July 22.