Last week, Paramount Pictures revealed that Star Trek Beyond will canonically make Hikaru Sulu the franchise’s first gay character. Sulu, played in the reboot timeline by John Cho, will be given a small scene in Beyond that depicts him in a domestic setting with his husband and their child.
While many fans appreciated this rectifying of what seemed like a dated exclusion in Star Trek’s cast, which has been celebrated for its diversity since the original series premiered in the 1960s, not everyone was thrilled. Notably, original Sulu actor George Takei, himself an openly gay activist for LGBT causes, was “delighted” to see a gay character in Star Trek, but felt that making Sulu gay – intended by writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin as a direct nod to Takei – was a “twisting” of the vision of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
J.J. Abrams, one of Star Trek Beyond's producers and director of the first two films in the Star Trek reboot timeline, has now weighed in on the matter, saying a gay character in Stark Trek is long overdue. He also seems a bit baffled by Takei’s objection.
“It’s about time that there’s a gay character in this universe,” Abrams told The Huffington Post. “It is done, as you saw, in a way that is not in the story of the movie, which is one of my favorite things about it. It’s beside the point. I feel that George Takei’s reaction ― I’m sure has more to do with George Takei, and the baggage he brings to the proceedings. I think it may be his perception of having played a character a certain way. It might mean something personally to him. I have nothing but respect for the man, but I think it’s a preposterous thing for, of all people, a Star Trek actor — who’s come out himself — to say that Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t have wanted this.”
Abrams goes on to say that he believes Roddenberry would have applauded the move. “One of the many things I admire about [Roddenberry] was … how he was so about inclusivity, and I can’t imagine that he would not have wanted one of these characters, if he had been allowed ― which, of course, he would never have been allowed to in that era ― [to] have them be gay.
“It feels like that is classic Roddenberry, so I don’t know what or why George Takei would take issue with it,” he continues. “I understand he’s backtracked a little bit. But I love the way [writers] Simon Pegg, Doug Jung and [director] Justin Lin did it. Doug Jung, who’s the co-writer, actually plays the husband of Sulu. I think it’s something I’m really proud of.”
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