This week, it was announced that new Star Trek film Star Trek Beyond would portray longstanding character Hikaru Sulu as gay, with actor John Cho (who plays the helmsman in the rebooted film series) telling Australia’s Herald Sun about the change and making headlines worldwide.
While the original Sulu in Gene Rodenberry’s TV series was depicted as heterosexual, apparently the new film’s writers Simon Pegg and Justin Lin thought that the change was a long time coming and especially appropriate given the fact that Sulu’s original actor George Takei (who came out in 2005) is now a prominent LGBTQ activist.
However, his reaction won’t have been quite what they expected – because Takei has revealed that he’s not a fan of their decision at all, despite previously petitioning series creator Rodenberry to include gay characters in the sci-fi series.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he 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.”
As Takei explained, he feels that the exhaustive research and planning Rodenberry put into creating his characters was dishonoured by changing Sulu’s sexuality, and when he spoke to director Justin Lin he urged him to create a new character instead.
“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 concluded: “I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed,” adding that he was “not going to change” his mind on the matter.
Guess that one backfired slightly…
Star Trek: Beyond will be released in UK cinemas on the 22nd July