Star Trek's New Gay Sulu Is "Really Unfortunate," Original Actor Says; Simon Pegg Responds

George Takei is "delighted" that Star Trek has its first openly gay character, but says it's a "twisting" of the fiction.


This week it was revealed that Hikaru Sulu, helmsman on the USS Enterprise, will become Star Trek's first openly gay character in its 50-year history. In the upcoming Star Trek Beyond, Sulu will be shown with a male partner and a daughter.

Now, the man who played Sulu on the original Star Trek TV show, George Takei, has responded to this news. Takei, who came out as gay in 2005 and is a prominent campaigner for gay rights, shared his mixed thoughts with The Hollywood Reporter.

"I'm delighted that there's a gay character," he said. "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 also said he hoped the original Star Trek could have touched on the gay equality conversation during its run. The show featured TV's first interracial kiss (between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura) and it also broached controversial subjects like the Vietnam War.

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While Roddenberry was a "strong supporter of LGBT equality," according to Takei, the Star Trek creator was "walking a very tight rope" already with some of its themes and stories. "If he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air," Takei said.

Beyond's Sulu, who is played by John Cho, recently talked about director Justin Lin and writer Simon Pegg's decision to downplay how the character is gay. "I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one's personal orientations," he said.

As for Pegg, he told The Guardian that he doesn't agree with Takei's thoughts on gay Sulu.

"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," Pegg said, noting he has "huge love and respect" for Takei. "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?”

He added: "It's also important to note that at no point do we suggest that our Sulu was ever closeted; why would he need to be? It' just hasn't come up before."

Beyond is set for release on July 22, 2016. It also stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba, and the late Anton Yelchin. Earlier this month, the final trailer for the film was revealed, which features the new Rihanna song "Sledgehammer."

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