Earlier this week, Star Trek Beyond actor John Cho announced that his character, Hikaru Sulu, would be revealed in the upcoming movie to be first openly gay character in the franchise - with a same-sex partner and child. But according to the original Sulu actor George Takei, it's unfortunate and not what Gene Roddenberry would have wanted.
"I’m delighted that there’s a gay character," Takei told The Hollywood Reporter. "Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate."
Takei, who is openly gay, related how he had multiple conversations with Roddenberry about these issues, including a conversation with the Star Trek creator at a 1968 pool party.
"[I] had a conversation with him, a very private one. I was still closeted, so I did not want to come out to him," recounted Takei. "[Gene] was a strong supporter of LGBT equality. 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."
The 79-year-old actor said that Cho had told him of the planned character change in 2015, and voiced his concerns and alternate suggestions even then.
"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.
When Cho revealed the status change earlier this week, he said he and the film's director and screenwriters did it as an intended tribute to Takei and the franchise's long-time push to deal with social issues. Takei said he continued to raise concerns about the change when Justin Lin followed up with him about it during the filming.
"I said, 'This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen."
Although Star Trek Beyond takes place in a seperate alternate continuity from the original series, that original continuity established him as having a child, Demora, after a "one-night stand with a glamazon," as Takei puts it.