George Takei Says Making His 'Star Trek' Character Gay Is 'Really Unfortunate'
Actor, activist, and documentary subject George Takei has taken issue with the news this week that his former character on Star Trek is revealed to be gay in the forthcoming film Star Trek Beyond.
John Cho, who will be playing the role of Sulu for the third time, told Australia's Herald Sun that he "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."
But Takei, who came out as gay in 2005 and played Sulu on the original Star Trek for years, spanning several iterations of the franchise, disapproves of the choice. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this week, Takei said, "I'm delighted that there's a gay character," but believes that it's not faithful to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's intentions. "It's a twisting of Gene's creation, to which he put in so much thought," he said. "I think it's really unfortunate."
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Takei first learned of Sulu's recent same-sex leanings last year, when Cho called him to reveal the big news. Takei tried to convince him to make a new character gay instead. "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 THR he felt that he was led to believe that director Justin Lin, who had told Takei of the decision to out Sulu last year, would respond to Takei's input, but that wasn't the case.
"I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed," said Takei. "Months later, when I got that email from Simon Pegg, I was kind of confused. He thinks I'm a great guy? Wonderful. But what was the point of that letter? I interpreted that as my words having been heard."
Actor Simon Pegg, who wrote the script for Star Trek Beyond and plays Scotty, told the Guardian,"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?
Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere.
Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the Star Trek reboots, was also unhappy with Takei's comments, telling Pedestrian TV in an interview,
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 normalized and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema...I get it that he's had his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with his character but, you know, as we established in the first 'Star Trek' film in 2009, we've created an alternate universe, and my hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be....Come on, George.