It was revealed yesterday that Star Trek Beyond's Sulu will be the franchise's first gay character, but the OG Sulu, George Takei, who notably played him in the Star Trek film and television series, reacted in an unexpected way.
The actor told The Hollywood Reporter, "I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate."
Takei is referring to Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, who was aware of the actor's sexuality (he announced he was gay in 2005) but didn't want to include it in the storyline: "He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality. But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope—and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air."
He also reveals the moment John Cho (who plays Sulu in Star Trek Beyond) told him about the character's new sexuality: "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.'"
Simon Pegg, one of the co-writers of Star Trek Beyond, responded to Takei's comments. He told The Guardian in a statement:
“I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration. However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him. He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. 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?”
Star Trek Beyond's Zachary Quinto is also in disagreement with Takei, telling Pedestrian.tv:
"As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed. I think any member of the LGBT community that takes issue with the normalised and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema..."