There's been a bit of a tumult over Star Trek
character Sulu’s sexual orientation these past few weeks.
Though the idea of making the character a gay man had emerged purely out of good will, as 'a homage' to George Takei from the Star Trek Beyond
writers, there was one reaction we did not see coming.
A reaction that came from George Takei himself who played Sulu in the original films.
The 79-year-old actor revealed that he wasn’t so much as disappointed with the sudden change
, but rather disturbed that it would misrepresent Gene Roddenberry’s (Star Trek
Creator) initial vision.
Since then, Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto have responded
along with J.J Abrams
. But if there was one man we wanted to hear from, it's Sulu himself: John Cho.
In an interview with Vulture
, the 44-year-old spoke at great length about what it meant to be an Asian-American actor in Hollywood culture and addressed the criticism behind Sulu’s sexuality.
He said, "I thought it was a beautiful idea. But I had concerns I expressed in that office that day."
"My primary concern was that I was wondering how George 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."
"I was concerned also that there might be Asian-American backlash. There has been this feminisation of Asian men, so I thought this might be seen as continuing that lineage, which I disagree with personally, but I brought it up."
Apart his concerns, Cho was pleased with the idea:
"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."
Not only did Cho embrace the idea but offered some of his own, "Early on I said, 'Dude, it would be important to me to have an Asian husband.'
But the crew had some trouble finding him a husband:
"We definitely had trouble finding East Asians first off, and then actors willing to play gay. We had a guy and then his parents really objected. Basically, we couldn't find an Asian actor willing to play gay in Dubai is my understanding.’’
The problem was solved when Asian-American screenwriter Doug Jun was cast as Sulu’s husband.
Cho then explains that he and Doug had filmed a kiss which has now been cut from the film.
"There was a kiss that I think is not there anymore," he says. "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."
He adds, "I just wanted that to look convincingly intimate. We're just 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."
Star Trek Beyond
is in cinemas now.
You can read Cho's full interview over at Vulture
Words: Salomé Baudino
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