The film’s screenwriter thought he’d be delighted
via Flickr user (cc) Kevin Cullen
When Star Trek first hit the airwaves in 1966 it was unlike anything people had ever seen on television. The show’s multi-ethnic cast included an African-American woman, a Japanese-American man, and would eventually introduce a Russian character at the height of the Cold War. The show reached its cultural envelope-pushing pinnacle when it featured an interracial kiss between actress Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner. So when it was announced that The Enterprise’s helmsmen Hiraku Sulu will be revealed as gay in the upcoming film, Star Trek Beyond, it didn’t come as a shocker. But one person who is surprisingly upset with the idea is the original Sulu, LGBT rights activist, George Takei.
It was recently announced that in Star Trek Beyond there’s a very matter-of-fact scene where Sulu is seen with a male spouse raising an infant. The scene was written into the film as a tribute to Takei by actor-screenwriter Simon Pegg. Pegg and the film’s director, Justin Lin, assumed that Takei would be overjoyed by the news. But when Takei first heard about it last year from the current Sulu, John Cho, he pushed back. “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 told The Hollywood Reporter.
After their conversation, Takei believed the film’s creators would nix the scene and work on creating a new gay character. But, after learning the filmmakers stuck with their original plans, Takei has taken a public stance against the reveal. His major problem is that the character change conflicts with Star Trek-creator Gene Roddenberry’s original vision. “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 also believes that showing Sulu to be gay in the prequel films means that later in the show’s timeline Sulu would become closeted.