George Takei's reaction to the news that it would be revealed that Sulu is gay in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond surprised many ahead of the film's release last Friday. "I’m delighted that there’s a gay character," the actor who played Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series and LGBT activist told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this month. "Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene [Roddenberry]’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate."
Like many, Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the reboot of the Star Trek films and is openly gay, was disappointed to hear George's comments. "My initial reaction was there is nothing unfortunate about an openly gay character in a mainstream summer blockbuster film, and I was bummed that he said that," Zachary said while responding to questions from the "Shady Vulcan" on Tuesday night's Watch What Happens Live (clip above).
George, who came out in 2005, later clarified his comments in a lenghty Facebook post, saying that he was "delighted" that the LGBT community will be represented in the Star Trek universe but that he had wished "that Gene Roddenberry’s original characters and their backgrounds would be respected" and that "a new hero might be created, whose story could be fleshed out from scratch, rather than reinvented."
Zachary went on to explain why the creative team behind Star Trek Beyond decided to reveal Sulu's sexuality in the film during the WWHL After Show (clip below). "I feel like the character being gay ultimately has nothing to do with George being gay or the timing of George coming out," he explained. "Ultimately it was a decision that the LGBT community has long advocated for representation in the Star Trek universe, and I think from an objectively creative standpoint, the writers saw an opportunity for that. Maybe it's tied to George in some way as a gesture of acknowledgment, but it wasn't something that bore any relevance to him coming out."
However, Jon Cho, the actor who plays Sulu in Star Trek Beyond, previously told Melbourne's Herald Sun when the news was announced earlier this month that the movie's screenwriter and star Simon Pegg and director Justin Linn decided to make the character gay as "a nod to George Takei."
Ultimately, Zachary said that something good came out of George's controversial comments. "The cool thing was everybody talked about it in a respectful way," he said during the WWHL After Show. "It wasn't, like, people slinging sh** at each other."
Though he may not agree with what George said, Zachary said he can understand where he's coming from. "I get it, you know, like, from his standpoint," he said. "But for me, I think it's more important that young people have a character they can look at and see themselves reflected in, normalized, integrated in a positive way, and that's the thing I think supersedes any personal reaction that he might have being a gay actor playing a character that for 50 years he perceived as straight."
See what Zachary had to say about another controversial move in Star Trek Beyond, below.