As we reported earlier this month, the choice to make Sulu gay in Star Trek Beyond was met with consternation by George Takei, the openly-gay actor who originated the character on the 1960s TV series. His response, which came in the course of an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, elicited rebuttals from both co-screenwriter/star Simon Pegg and producer J.J. Abrams, the latter of whom dubbed Takei”s opinion on the matter “preposterous.”
While Takei”s initial response to the matter was surprising to most of us (he later clarified his comments in a Facebook post), it turns out “new” Sulu John Cho was nervous about how Takei would respond from the very beginning. From the A.V. Club:
AVC: Could you walk people through how Simon [Pegg], Doug [Jung], and Justin [Lin] first told you that Sulu would have a husband? What was your reaction? How did you first learn it?
JC: I learned it first from Justin. Simon had pitched it. I heard from Justin early on in preproduction. I was concerned for a few reasons. I was concerned that George wouldn”t like it, and it turned out to be true. But I was actually concerned that he wouldn”t like it for a different reason. I thought that George would object because he”s a gay actor who was playing straight. I know that was difficult, that he couldn”t come out and that he had crafted a straight character. Then, now, because he”s an activist and he”s out of the closet-clearly, this is an homage a little bit to him-[I worried] he would object to us taking that from his life and say, “Hey, I was a gay actor who created a straight character, and now you”re making him gay because I”ve come out of the closet?,” that we were just seeing him for his sexual orientation. So I thought that would be where he would object. It turns out not to be his objection. But that”s what I was worried about.
As it turned out, Takei was more concerned with what he saw as a betrayal of creator Gene Roddenberry”s original vision, but his efforts to convince the filmmakers to “create a [new] character who has a history of being gay” ultimately proved fruitless. That said, even Cho remains ambivalent about the choice, telling the A.V. Club that writing Sulu as gay raised a whole slew of concerns for him personally, including the idea that “Asians and Asian Americans might see it as a sort of continuing feminization of Asian men.” Ultimately, though, he views the decision as a net positive.
“On the other hand, I think, narratively, it”s really good,” he continued. “We”re executing Roddenberry”s intent, I think: infinite diversity in infinite combinations.”
You can read the entire interview with Cho over at the A.V. Club.