Hikaru Sulu will be portrayed as gay in Star Trek Beyond, the franchise’s third installment, but what viewers won’t be seeing is an “intimate,” “welcome-home kiss” between Sulu and his husband, says actor John Cho.
The aforementioned scene —an homage to George Takei, the openly-gay actor who played Sulu in the original TV series— was left on the cutting room floor, and perhaps to Takei’s delight, who came out against modifying Gene Roddenberry’s previously straight character.
On Star Trek Beyond, Takei wrote, “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene [Roddenberry]’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
On playing gay, Cho told Vulture: “My primary concern was that I was wondering how George [Takei] 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 by sort of borrowing this bit, if you will, from his life. You know? And his opinion was important to me, and I would have rather had him support the decision than not, so I wanted to reach out to him.”
While it didn’t make the big screen, Cho stands by Sulu’s kiss as a necessary representation of gay Asian men, a sparsely-seen demographic in film and TV.
He continues, “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 [Jung, the film’s co-writer] 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. It was hard to do on the fly. We had to open up. It came off well, in my view.”
Catch John Cho in Star Trek Beyond when it hits theaters on July 22.