John Cho as Hikaru Sulu in "Star Trek Beyond"
John Cho as Hikaru Sulu in "Star Trek Beyond" YouTube/Paramount Pictures

John Cho’s Hikaru Sulu is gay, and George Takei is not happy about it. The iconic Asian character is shown in “Star Trek Beyond” as having a same-sex partner and a daughter.

The cast of the rebooted “Star Trek” film series – Cho, Chris Pine (Captain Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock) and Karl Urban (Dr McCoy) – and director Justin Lin were recently in Sydney to promote the third movie in the franchise.

Cho has recently revealed to the Herald Sun that it was screenwriter/co-star Simon Pegg (Scott) and Lin’s idea to make the helmsman of the USS Enterprise gay. As typical of the show’s fashion, Sulu’s outing was not made into a big deal. A scene in the film will see Sulu pictured with a male husband and their infant daughter.

“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 politicise one’s personal orientation,” Cho said.

The 44-year-old Korean-born actor added that the decision to make Sulu a gay character was a nod to Takei, who is openly gay and had played the character in the original series in the ‘60s. However, if they thought that that would make Takei happy, they were mistaken.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Takei said he would prefer if Sulu stay a heterosexual character. Although he was delighted that the film incorporated a homosexual character, he felt that they twisted TV series creator Gene Roddenberry’s creation.

“I think it’s really unfortunate,” he told THR, explaining that Roddenberry put a lot of thought into creating the characters. The late TV producer had always envisioned Sulu as a straight man. He even based Sulu’s name on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines to make his Asian nationality indeterminate.

Takei, who came out as a gay man in 2005 and is married to husband Brad Altman, said he first learnt of his character’s sexual orientation last year. When Cho called him to reveal the news, he tried to make the younger actor to make a new character gay instead. He reasoned out that by making Sulu, who has had a daughter with a “glamazon” in the 1994 “Star Trek Generations” film, gay, it would mean he was a closeted homosexual. So it would be better to add a new character instead.

As the rebooted movie series takes place before the timeline of the original series, it would suggest that Sulu have been gay and married before he went back into the closet and had a daughter with a woman.

Cho was disappointed when even after being vocal about the issue, his wants were still rebuffed. Cho emailed him to say that they were going on an international media tour for “Star Trek Beyond” and everyone would know Sulu was gay.

“Star Trek Beyond” will be released in Australia on July 21.

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