Update: George Takei is strongly opposed to the creative decision to make Hikaru Sulu — played by John Cho today and by Takei in the '60s — gay. The move was intended as an homage to the 79-year-old who is an LGBT icon — but the actor told the Hollywood Reporter he sees the move as an affront to the franchise's creator, Gene Roddenberry. "I’m delighted that there’s a gay character," he told THR. "Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate."
Takei would've preferred that Simon Pegg — who penned the script for the new Star Trek movie and came up with the idea — had created a new character instead of retrofitting Sulu to be a closeted gay man. "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.'" The actor added that he "urged" Pegg and director Justin Lin to "honor [Roddenberry] and create a new character."
This story was originally published on July 7 at 3:30 p.m.
The Star Trek franchise revival is tipping its hat to actor George Takei in a wonderful and meaningful way. Back in the '60s, Takei, who is gay, played the helmsman of the USS Enterprise, Lt. Hikaru Sulu, in the original series. Today, John Cho plays the beloved character in the reboot films helmed by J.J. Abrams. On a press tour in Sydney this week to promote the next movie, Star Trek Beyond, Cho revealed some news about his character. According to the Herald Sun, Sulu will be openly gay in the movie — making him the first openly gay major character in the franchise's history.
The Australian paper reports that Sulu will have a husband and daughter. And Cho reportedly revealed that "the decision by writer Simon Pegg and [director Justin] Lin to make Sulu gay was a nod to George Takei." Cho appreciates that the film does not make a huge deal about his character's sexuality. “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out [of] it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not [politicize] one’s personal orientations," he said.