Diversity and unity are a major theme in Star Trek Beyond. The film, which features over 50 alien species, also reflects on real-life human beings who also vary in shapes, sizes, and colors. That being said, the controversy surrounding the recent reveal of Sulu’s character being gay could not be ignored.
At a recent press conference in Los Angeles, John Cho, who plays Sulu, talked about the character’s sexuality being addressed.
“Roddenberry did set up a world that was incredibly progressive but it was tempered by the social morals of the era. I feel like we can go further in 2016 than he was able to do at the time and to your point, I feel like our version can give more to women and people of color than Roddenberry was originally able to, I think,” said Cho.
He added, “It was really the handling of it that was most important to me. Having seen the film, its nonchalant posture towards it is the best thing about it. That it’s normalized. It’s news now, but if you re-watch the movie in ten years, you won’t think anything of it. It’ll just go right by you. That’s the best thing about it. There’s no music cue. There’s no close up.”
Co-star Simon Pegg jumped in with a dramatic, “Dun dun DUN!” with Karl Urban joking in the background, “He’s gay! He’s gay, everybody!”
Pegg, who came up with the idea for Sulu’s sexuality change, chimed in, “The point is he had somebody on York Town. We put somebody we cared about in York Town, so when York Town was under threat, that made the threat tangible. We knew that Sulu’s family was there. It wasn’t just a bunch of faceless Federation people. There was somebody there that we cared about too because we care about Sulu. That was an important thing. The nature of the relationship wasn’t an issue.”
Co-writer Doug Jung, who also plays Sulu’s husband in the film, expressed his thoughts on the matter speaking to TrekNews.net. “I think it was hugely important, but how we approached it was to not really make that big of deal of it, because if you really think about it on a couple of levels. One of them logically, in this future in the Roddenberry Universe, it would be something that wouldn’t be a very big deal. So to not address it that has a spotlight on it, is true to the nature of what Star Trek is, but also to me, seems like the natural progression of hopefully where we’re headed ourselves in real life. I think we wanted to do it that way and include it just as if what it is,” Jung explained. “It’s just a normal thing that just exists in the world.”
As for George Takei’s comments on the matter, Pegg cleared up the rumors of any bad blood between the two. Pegg told the audience, “The whole thing with George, people like to make things into a spat. George and I email all the time long discussions about it. We are on great terms. We never shatted on each other. I’m really happy with the way it’s been talked about and responded too. I’m still a huge fan of GT.”