Less than one day after actor John Cho revealed to an Australian newspaper that his "Star Trek Beyond" character, Hikaru Sulu, is gay, George Takei (who originated the role of Sulu in the 1966 "Star Trek" television series) is weighing in, calling the news "unfortunate."
"I'm delighted that there's a gay character," Takei told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. "Unfortunately, it's a twisting of Gene's [Roddenberry, the creator of the "Star Trek" series] creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate."
Takei also told The Hollywood Reporter that Roddenberry, who he called a "strong supporter of LGBT equality," always approached the character of Sulu as heterosexual, and that the only reference in the "Star Trek" universe to Sulu's family is a daughter who was conceived through a "one-night stand with a glamazon."
Takei's response follows Cho's interview with the Herald Sun, an Australian-based newspaper, where he discussed the decision by "Star Trek Beyond" writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin to show Sulu with a same-sex partner and a daughter — a decision, Cho said, was a nod to Takei.
"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 politicise one's political orientations," Cho told the Herald Sun while promoting the film, which is scheduled to be released in the U.S. on July 22.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cho told Takei about the decision to show Sulu with a same-sex partner last year. Takei said, during his conversation with Cho, that he urged the film's team to reconsider. "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 said.
"He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality," recalls Takei, now 79. "But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air." Alas, the show was canceled the following season anyway.