It was thought that Takei, who’s gay in real life, would be totally supportive of this character shift (and apparent tribute to him), but it turns out he feels the exact opposite way.
Apparently, in Star Trek Beyond, Sulu — played by John Cho in the movie franchise — will be shown on-screen married to a man.
Takei is passionate about the characters he plays, and it’s a well-known Star Trek fact that Roddenberry worked painstakingly to craft his characters and their backstories. Takei says that he has always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual, even though he never had an onscreen love interest.
Accorting to Takei, Cho let him know at some point last year that Sulu was going to be revealed as gay, and even then Takei was trying to convince the writers to make a brand-new gay character instead of changing Sulu’s sexual orientation.
“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,'” he said.
Simon Pegg, who both acted and co-wrote the script for Star Trek Beyond, says he “respectfully disagrees” with Takei’s point-of-view on the topic.
“I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration,” Pegg said to The Guardian. “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,” he continued. “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?”
Takei insists that he’s “not going to change” his mind, adding: “I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed.”
Takei came out as gay in 2005, and married his partner in 2008. He says that he had to remain closeted while shooting the ’60s Star Trek TV show and ’70s movies in order to keep his job as an actor.
Cho has not commented publicly on his character’s sexuality or on Takei and Pegg’s comments.