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'Star Trek' Actor George Takei Slams Decision to Make Legendary Character Hikaru Sulu Gay

( [email protected] ) Jul 13, 2016 12:07 PM EDT
"Star Trek" actor George Takei has slammed the decision to make fan favorite character Hikaru Sulu, the character he portrayed in the '60s, gay in the franchise's new film, "Star Trek Beyond."
Actor George Takei attends the International Emmy Awards in Manhattan, New York November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

"Star Trek" actor George Takei has slammed the decision to make fan favorite character Hikaru Sulu, the character he portrayed in the '60s, gay in the franchise's new film, "Star Trek Beyond."

According to Reuters, Sulu, the helmsman of the starship USS Enterprise who is played by John Cho in Justin Lin's follow-up to "Star Trek into Darkness," will be shown to be the father of a young girl, named Demora, with a same-sex partner in the movie.

While Takei, 79, is openly gay and married in real life, he said that new version of Sulu does not reflect the original vision of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, who died in 1991 at age 70, as he was conceived as a heterosexual character.

"I'm delighted that there's a gay character," he 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 said.

Earlier this week, Cho told Australia's Herald Sun that the decision to make Sulu gay was to pay homage to Takei.

However, the veteran actor was less than pleased with the move: "I told (John Cho), '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," he explained.

Actor Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in "Star Trek Beyond" and co-wrote the script, told The Guardian he "must respectfully disagree" with Takei, and argued that making Sulu gay won't necessarily define his character.

"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?" Pegg said.

"The audience would infer that there has been an LGBT presence in the Trek Universe from the beginning ... that a gay hero isn't something new or strange," Pegg added.

The decision to alter the sexualty of a long-time franchise staple comes amid increasing pressure to include more diversity in Hollywood films.

In May, fans of Marvel films used the online hashtag "Give Captain America A Boyfriend" to push for a same sex relationship between the hero and Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier.

Other fans for Disney's animated film "Frozen" also started the hashtag #GiveElsaAGirlfriend to urge Disney to make the princess character a lesbian in the upcoming sequel, which is geared toward children.

In its annual report on how closely studios are mainstreaming homosexuality, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) calculated that 18 percent of movies released by major studios had homosexual characters. On the GLAAD "report card," film studio Lionsgate earned the highest "score," as it was recognized for featuring homosexual characters in 33 percent of its movies.