Just two weeks ago, John Cho’s Sulu was revealed as gay in the upcoming “Star Trek Beyond,” and the news has been steeped in controversy ever since. Nevertheless, Sulu’s family will have a major role to play in the events of the film, at least according to Cho, Simon Pegg and Zoe Saldana.
“One of the questions that we were asked, maybe for giggles, on the tour in either Sydney or London, was, which timeline would you choose to be in, the original series or ours, if you had the choice?” Cho shared. “And I did say ours, if forced to choose, for this reason: [“Star Trek” creator Gene] Roddenberry did set up a world that was incredibly progressive, but it was tempered by the social mores of the era. I feel like we can go further in 2016 than he was able to do at the time. To your point, I feel like that our version is able to give more to the women and the people of color in the cast than Roddenberry was originally able to, I think.”
“Not because he didn’t want to, either,” added Pegg.
“Not because he didn’t want to, correct,” Cho agreed.
“He absolutely wanted to,” Pegg emphasized.
“The idea [that Sulu was gay] came up, I believe Simon pitched it. Then I was told of it through Justin [Lin] pretty early on, when he had set up at Paramount,” Cho revealed. “We went in to have a chat and get reacquainted. I thought it was a beautiful idea. I had concerns about how it would be received by George [Takei], and I had some other concerns. But it was really the handling of it that was the most important to me.”
“Having seen the film, I think its nonchalant posture toward it is the best thing about it, and the fact that it’s normalized,” he continued. “It’s kind of 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.”
“The one thing that I guess has taken a secondary position is that, it wasn’t just that we revealed that he’s gay: it revealed that he’s a father,” Saldana pitched in. “None of our characters have families that we’ve ever talked about. So I actually feel quite puzzled that in 2016 we’re having like a bit of a fit over who he fathered a baby with. I’m happy he’s a dad.”
“The point is, is, he had somebody on Yorktown — what we wanted to do was put somebody we care about in Yorktown, so when Yorktown was under threat, that made the threat tangible,” Pegg explained. “We knew that Sulu’s family was there. So it wasn’t just a bunch of faceless Federation people. It was somebody that we cared about, too, because we care about Sulu. That was really important. The nature of that relationship wasn’t an issue.”
Directed by Justin Lin, “Star Trek Beyond” hits theaters on July 22.
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