Those who have hailed ‘Star Trek Beyond’s progressive decision to present one of its established characters as gay may be left a little deflated by this new revelation.
John Cho, who recently revealed his character Sulu is shown to be in a same-sex marriage in the upcoming sci-fi movie, says that a kiss with his character’s husband did not make the final cut.
The actor tells Vulture, “There was a kiss that I think is not there anymore… 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, co-writer of ‘Star Trek Beyond’ who appears as Sulu’s husband] 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.”
Cho reveals that screenwriter Jung (who collaborated with Scotty actor Simon Pegg on the screenplay) was cast in the role as the production “couldn’t find an Asian actor willing to play gay in Dubai,” where the scene in question was shot.
It was Cho himself who pushed for Sulu’s spouse to be another Asian, and he explains this decision was “a little Valentine to the gay Asian friends that I grew up with.
“This may be presumptuous, but I always felt the Asian gay men that I knew had much heavier cultural-shame issues… So I wanted it to seem really normal in the future.”
The decision to present Sulu as gay prompted controversy from an unexpected source when George Takei – the actor who originated the role in the original 1960s TV series and the first six ‘Star Trek’ movies, who is himself gay – objected to the move, on grounds of it being contrary to creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision.
Of this, Cho says, “I reached out to him and told him that this might be happening, and I just wanted to know how he felt. His objection was the same as it was a week ago. It turned out that George’s objection was mostly, as I understand it, ‘This isn’t canon.’ It didn’t turn out to be a political argument at all.
“It was interesting, but that’s who he is: He is a devotee of Roddenberry’s… I’ve got to respect him for that.”
The choice has been defended both by Simon Pegg and Spock actor Zachary Qunto - but after all this talk of presenting a progressive vision, the decision to remove a moment of same-sex intimacy seems unfortunate.
‘Star Trek Beyond’ opens on 22 July.
Picture Credit: Paramount