‘Star Trek Beyond’ (Kimberley French/Paramount Pictures via AP)
By revealing that Hikaru Sulu is gay, Star Trek Beyond boldly goes where no other installment in the classic sci-fi franchise has gone before. And according to the man who plays the character, John Cho, it might have further ventured into new realms by providing Sulu with an on-screen same-sex kiss – except that it didn’t make it into the final cut.
Speaking to Vulture’s E. Alex Chung, the 44-year-old actor disclosed that a scene was shot featuring Sulu and his husband (played by screenwriter Doug Jung) sharing a smooch. However, the moment was left on the cutting room floor. Explained Cho: “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.“
In the lengthy interview, Cho also speaks about his fears over reimagining Sulu as gay — not least of which was how such a twist would be taken by the man who originated the character, George Takei. “He’s a gay actor that played a straight part and crafted a straight character,” said Cho. “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.”
Takei has since told The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought.” And as it turns out, when originally notified, Cho says Takei voiced the same objections then that he’s subsequently articulated. "It turned out that George’s objection was mostly, as I understand it, ‘This isn’t canon.’ It didn’t turn out to be a political argument at all,” said Cho. “Everything he does in the Star Trek universe, it’s like What Would Jesus Do: "What would [creator Gene] Roddenberry do?” I’ve got to respect him for that.”
Simon Pegg, who co-stars as Scotty and co-wrote the screenplay with Jung, also recently responded to Takei’s displeasure in a diplomatic manner, stating that he “respectfully disagrees” with the 79-year-old actor’s reaction.
That tack was also taken by Zachary Quinto (a.k.a. the series’ new Spock), who told Pedestrian.TV, “My hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be.”
Read the rest of Cho’s interview on Vulture. Star Trek Beyond is in theaters today.
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