Simon Pegg, who stars as Scotty in the Star Trek reboot and wrote the latest film, Star Trek Beyond, in which the character of Mr. Sulu as played by John Cho, is revealed to be gay.
After news emerged yesterday of the character’s development in that direction, George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu in the original series, called it a “really unfortunate” turn of events.
Takei told the Hollywood Reporter that he had tried to convince Pegg and director Justin Lin that it was a bad idea.
“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,” said Takei.
Pegg says he “respectfully disagrees” with Takei, the Guardian reports:
Pegg expressed sympathy with Takei’s sentiment that mainstream gay heroes were belatedly coming to the big screen, but rejected the idea that this meant a new character needed creating.
“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?”
Pegg continued: “Justin Lin, Doug Jung and I loved the idea of it being someone we already knew because the audience have a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice. Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic. Also, the audience would infer that there has been an LGBT presence in the Trek Universe from the beginning (at least in the Kelvin timeline), that a gay hero isn’t something new or strange. It’s also important to note that at no point do we suggest that our Sulu was ever closeted, why would he need to be? It’s just hasn’t come up before.”
Added Pegg: “The viewing audience weren’t open minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have. Roddenberry was a visionary and a pioneer but we choose our battles carefully.”