Simon Pegg Responds to George Takei: I Respectfully Disagree

Following the news of George Takei’s objection to the Sulu character being shown as the first gay character in a Star Trek film, Star Trek Beyond writer Simon Pegg says he “respectfully” disagrees with the 79-year-old actor.

Originally printed by the Guardian, here’s what Pegg had to say in response to Takei:

I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration. However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.

He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?

Justin Lin, Doug Jung and I loved the idea of it being someone we already knew because the audience have a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice. Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic. Also, the audience would infer that there has been an LGBT presence in the Trek Universe from the beginning (at least in the Kelvin timeline), that a gay hero isn’t something new or strange. It’s also important to note that at no point do we suggest that our Sulu was ever closeted, why would he need to be? It’s just hasn’t come up before.

I don’t believe Gene Roddenberry’s decision to make the prime timeline’s Enterprise crew straight was an artistic one, more a necessity of the time. Trek rightly gets a lot of love for featuring the first interracial kiss on US television, but Plato’s Stepchildren was the lowest rated episode ever.

The viewing audience weren’t open minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have. Roddenberry was a visionary and a pioneer but we choose our battles carefully.

Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere.

Whatever dimension we inhabit, we all just want to be loved by those we love (and I love George Takei). I can’t speak for every reality but that must surely true of this one. Live long and prosper.

Directed by Justin Lin, written by Simon Pegg, Doug Jung, Roberto Orci, John D. Payne and Patrick McCay, Star Trek Beyond stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella. The film is scheduled to hit theaters on July 22 after premiering during San Diego Comic-Con on July 20.

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16 Comments Join the Conversation →


  • Nicks

    Simon Pegg’s response is a brilliant piece of writing and absolutely true to Star Trek ideals.
    I especially like this line:
    “I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere”.

    Clearly Simon is a clever guy.
    I’m very excited to watch Star Trek Beyond. Not long now.

  • Dalek1963

    Remember, we saw almost no details of Sulu’s private life in TOS or the movies.

    • Spock

      But we do know that Sulu had a daughter, Demora, who served aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701-B in Star Trek: Generations. I realize it’s not absolutely conclusive, but it’s about all we have to go on.

  • Arron Bubba Ratcliff

    I’m with George on this. I hate how the studios and comic book companies
    are taking these classic characters with decades of history and are
    changing them just to suit the progressive social justice warriors. You
    want inclusive that’s fine Star trek should be about the best things
    humanity has to offer.Don’t stomp all over everything that came before
    just so you can virtue signal.You want an openly Homosexual crew men
    cool go develop one,Create his or her back story and personality their
    likes and dislikes their hobbies and quarks.Don’t just take an all ready
    existing Character and say oh now he or she is gay by the way.Simon
    Pegg being allowed to write this script was probably the worst thing
    that could have happened to this movie.

  • Milo

    Star Trek never forced fed ideas on anyone. What it did was always asked questions, showcased different view points, and then let the audience decide for themselves. What Pegg is doing is not that, he’s force feeding a view point on to the audience, much the same way most of his peers in Hollywood today do. That’s not Star Trek.

    Further, per Simon Pegg’s response, I’m sorry Mr. Pegg, but have you ever watched Star Trek? It’s nothing but “token” characters! Sulu is the Asian guy, Uhura is the black woman, Chekhov’s the Russian, Geordi is the blind guy, etc. Sorry if I busted any bubbles here, but most of the various casts on Star Trek are based on tokenism.

  • Carl

    Pandering. No more, no less. Bring on the white Uhura!

  • akalkan

    I totally disagree with you sir. This is a “straightforward logic” decision that you think you need to put a Lbgt character to sell the franchise and since Mr Takei is gay, Sulu must be gay. Very straightforward indeed…

    “In this alternate timeline, Spock, a Vulcan, has a “girlfriend” but Kirk is still a lover boy. Why does nobody think Kirk as a Lbgt character? (Sorry doesn’t sell) Maybe Bones, divorced, can be your Lgbt character? Have you ever thought about it?

    There are a lot of gay people who are also trekkie and they don’t bother. Cause this show is bigger than this and has many good stories showing gender problems without hesitating or telling about genderless species or species who have 3 genders, or species like male gender has the capability to carry the baby.

    Don’t ruin the show, please. I know this is an alternate timeline but listen to what Mr Takei has said. If you’re really want to add a Lbgt character to enrich the trekkie world, create a new character and give him/her a meaningful life on the show.

  • Tori Bee

    Thanks Paramount for ruining this traditional family franchise for me and many families and besmirching Gene Roddenberry’s good name with this unecessary glorification of a SS relationship of Sulu. Thank goodness fans are finding this out before wasting our money on this vile portrait of Star Trek along with the countless products that are endorsing this POS movie. signed an Ex-star trek fan.

    • ZOD

      Every time anything the least bit progressive happens people come out of the woodwork to complain about it. Kirk & Uhura kissed: the world didn’t end. Sulu & his male partner are raising a little girl together: the world won’t end. The whole point of Star Trek is to showcase the diversity of humanity. The fact that you find an educated multiethnic group of officers working together in a socialist utopia “traditional family” fare is actually pretty cool. Hopefully your kids will leave homophobia wherever you’ve left racism & the world will become that much nicer.

      • Tori Bee

        Funny how you infer I’m a homophobe (stupid definition) because I agree with George Takei that this was a totally unnecessary change to an established character. Typical hypocritical gay liberal.

        • ZOD

          So how does making a character gay change Star Trek from a “traditional family franchise” into “unecessary glorification of a SS “. I didn’t infer that your a homophobe, I’ve observed that you’re a homophobe. Hell, you even jumped to that conclusion that I’m gay just because I’m tolerant.

          • Tori Bee

            I meant that it was a franchise that a traditional family could view together. Well aren’t you?

          • ZOD

            Why does a gay character make Star Trek inappropriate for traditional families? Do you seriously think that’s the point Takei was making? Anyway, no I’m not gay. I’ve just lived long enough to understand that I don’t have to be part of a minority group in order to respect them. Life’s too short for this BS. Justify your intolerance however you want, “Ex-Star Trek fan”. Just know that people will call you on it. Even straight people.

          • Tori Bee

            You better read Takei’s response again Zod. If you can read. It’s exactly the point he was making and I’m in total agreement with his logic. Not a matter of intolerance. A matter of making sense of a once straight character turning gay with a husband and child. You can’t. Guess what? I’m not afraid to be called out on it. I’m especially not afraid of you.

          • ZOD

            So, you don’t see the difference between an actor not wanting his character changed (a valid point) and a homophobe not wanting gay characters to appear on “traditional family” programming? Takei is 100% in favor of openly gay characters on Star Trek. One of his main concerns about making Sulu gay is that he doesn’t want him to have ever been closeted.

            What’s the nightmare scenario you’re imagining in the theater anyway?

            “Dad, why is that man married to a man?”
            “He’s gay”
            “What’s gay?”
            “When a man and a man or a woman and a woman love each other.”
            “OK… Oh no, wait a minute dad! Wasn’t he straight on a 60’s TV show and in some movies in the 80’s and 90’s?”
            “Well it was never explicitly stated…”
            “But it was implied dad, it was implied!”
            “You’re right, these are the end times.”

  • Erik

    Takei is right. Sounds a little butthurt on Pegg’s side.
    He just has choosen Sulu, because his original actor is gay himself. Pegg thought Takei would gladly see that.