Oh my! ‘Star Trek’ icon re­vealed to be gay

En­ter­prise helms­man Sulu boldly goes where no man has gone be­fore

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

LOS AN­GE­LES: The ac­tor play­ing Hikaru Sulu in the up­com­ing film Star Trek Be­yond has re­vealed that the fan favourite char­ac­ter is openly gay and mar­ried in the new film.

Ac­tor John Cho, who plays the role of Sulu first made fa­mous by Ge­orge Takei in the 1966 Star Trek tele­vi­sion se­ries, said the helms­man of the star­ship En­ter­prise, is mar­ried to a man and is a fa­ther to a daugh­ter with his part­ner.

How­ever, ac­tor Takei, who played Sulu in the orig­i­nal Star Trek TV se­ries and films – and who is openly gay and mar­ried in real life – is not happy about the change to the char­ac­ter.

He told the Hol­ly­wood Re­porter the Star Trek Be­yond de­vel­op­ment for his char­ac­ter was “out of step with what cre­ator Gene Rod­den­berry would have wanted”.

Star Trek was no­table for fea­tur­ing a di­verse, mul­tira­cial and mul­ti­cul­tural cast of char­ac­ters who were por­trayed as equals, al­beit against a 23rd cen­tury sci-fi back­drop.

“(Ro­den­berry) was a strong sup­porter of LGBT equal­ity,” Takei, 79, told the pub­li­ca­tion.

Takei said he had spo­ken to Ro­den­berry pri­vately about tack­ling the is­sue of gay equal- ity on the show, but Rod­den­berry, said Takei, “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.”

Takei said he’d much pre­fer that Sulu re­mained a straight char­ac­ter. “I’m de­lighted that there’s a gay char­ac­ter,” he said.

“Un­for­tu­nately, it’s a twist­ing of Gene’s cre­ation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s re­ally un­for­tu­nate.”

Takei said that Rod­den­berry had been ex­haus­tive in con­ceiv­ing his Star Trek char­ac­ters.

The name Sulu, for ex­am­ple, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philip­pines, so as to ren­der his Asian na­tion­al­ity in­de­ter­mi­nate.

And Rod­den­berry had always en­vi­sioned Sulu as het­ero­sex­ual.

The de­ci­sion to make a long­time fran­chise sta­ple char­ac­ter gay comes as Hol­ly­wood faces grow­ing pres­sure to in­clude more di­ver­sity in its block­buster films. There is yet to be an openly gay su­per­hero or ac­tion star lead­ing a film fran­chise.

Cho said scriptwriter Si­mon Pegg and di­rec­tor Justin Lin made the de­ci­sion to make Sulu gay to pay homage to Takei.

“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 ori­en­ta­tions,” Cho said.

Some fans of Mar­vel films sparked the on­line hash­tag “Give Captain Amer­ica A Boyfriend” in May, push­ing for a same-sex re­la­tion­ship be­tween the hero and Bucky Barnes, the Win­ter Sol­dier.

Other fans for Dis­ney’s an­i­mated film Frozen also started an on­line move­ment for “Give Elsa A Girl­friend,” ask­ing Dis­ney to make the princess char­ac­ter a les­bian in the up­com­ing se­quel, gain­ing sup­port from ac­tress Id­ina Men­zel, who voices Elsa.

Cho was joined by other cast mem­bers of Star Trek Be­yond in Aus­tralia this week as they start pro­mo­tions for the up­com­ing film, re­leased in the US on July 22 and in SA in Au­gust.

The film has been cast un­der a dark shadow af­ter one of its stars, An­ton Yelchin, was trag­i­cally killed af­ter be­ing crushed by his car in Los An­ge­les last month. – Reuters

John Cho and Ge­orge Takei.

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