Earlier this month, while doing press for Star Trek Beyond, star John Cho said that his character Hikaru Sulu is revealed to be gay in this new movie, which opens in theaters today. The news has been quite controversial, with George Takei, who played the original Sulu on the iconic TV series, and is himself homosexual, speaking out against this change, because Sulu is a straight man in the Star Trek canon. Today we have even more details about Sulu, with John Cho revealing that a scene was cut where he kisses his husband, played by screenwriter Doug Jung.
George Takei admitted earlier this month that he was “delighted” to learn that there is now a gay character in Star Trek, but he thought making the long-established character Sulu gay was “twisting” the character Gene Roddenberry created. As for the cut kiss scene, John Cho revealed in an interview with Vulture that it is a “welcome home kiss” at the airport. Here’s what he had to say below.
“It wasn’t like a make-out session. We’re at the airport with our daughter. It was a welcome-home kiss. I’m actually proud of that scene, because it was pretty tough. Obviously, I just met the kid, and then Doug is not an actor. I just wanted that to look convincingly intimate. We’re two straight guys and had to get to a very loving, intimate place. It was hard to do on the fly. We had to open up. It came off well, in my view.”
It’s certainly possible that this discarded scene could end up on the Blu-ray and/or DVD release of Star Trek Beyond later this year, but we’ll have to wait and see. John Cho revealed that he was told very early on that they were considering making Sulu gay, but he told director Justin Lin that he wanted to make sure George Takei himself supported this decision, which we know now that he doesn’t. Here’s what John Cho had to say about his initial concerns regarding Sulu becoming a gay character.
“My primary concern was that I was wondering how George [Takei] would feel, because he’s a gay actor that played a straight part and crafted a straight character. I didn’t want him to feel that we had reduced him to his sexuality by sort of borrowing this bit, if you will, from his life. You know? And his opinion was important to me, and I would have rather had him support the decision than not, so I wanted to reach out to him. I was concerned also that there might be Asian-American backlash. There has been this feminization of Asian men, so I thought this might be seen as continuing that lineage, which I disagree with personally, but I brought it up. I was also concerned, scientifically speaking [laughs], that we’re in an alternate universe but I’m assuming that Sulu is the same genetic Sulu in both timelines, and I thought we might be implying that sexual orientation was a choice. Does this sound super overthought?
John Cho added that George Takei’s objection was the same then as it was when he spoke out about the move earlier this month. John Cho added that he respected George Takei for wanting the movie to stick to Gene Roddenberry’s canon, but he ultimately supported the gay Sulu character. Here’s what John Cho had to say about why he supported this move, even after George Takei’s objections.
“I was like, This is good. I just thought it came from a real place, and I also thought that it personalized Sulu a little bit, which was a good move. We just see him steer the ship mostly and do his job, and I just wanted to give that some other weight. I thought that having the family deepened his character a little bit. Arguably that could’ve been with a wife and daughter, but in any case I just thought that having a personal life was a nice addition to the character. This is an important point for me and I’d like to know your opinion on this too. Early on I said to Justin, ‘Dude, it would be important to me to have an Asian husband.'”
The actor added that the production actually had a difficult time finding Asian actors who were willing to play a gay man, so they ultimately just cast Doug Jung, who co-wrote the script with Simon Pegg. John Cho also added that he wanted Sulu to have an Asian husband to honor the gay Asian friends he grew up with. Paramount recently confirmed Star Trek 4 is coming, so it’s possible that we may learn more about Sulu and his husband in that sequel.