The move, announced by new Sulu actor John Cho on Thursday, was intended by writer Simon Pegg as a doff of the cap to Takei’s pioneering work for gay rights.
In response, however, Takei told that Hollywood Reporter that, far from being touched, he had urged Pegg and his team to rethink the decision, fearing that the sudden move did not honour the character as he was originally created, and sent a dubious message about whether people can suddenly change sexuality.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” said Takei. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s creation, into which he put so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
Takei said that he had expressed his concerns immediately on hearing of the plot development, which involves the revelation that, as well as a daughter, Sulu has a same-sex partner.
The actor reportedly encouraged the film-makers to 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”.
Takei said he then appealed to the director, Justin Lin, citing the fact the film comes out 50 years after Gene Roddenberry first created the Star Trek world, and appealing to them to “honour him and create a new character”.
But although Takei was “left feeling that that was going to happen”, he then received an email from Pegg which explained that the development was meant in tribute, which Takei took to mean his concerns had not been listened to.
“And I thought to myself: ‘How wonderful! It’s a fan letter from Simon Pegg. Justin had talked to him!’ … I was kind of confused. He thinks I’m a great guy? Wonderful. But what was the point of that letter? I interpreted that as my words having been heard.”
The Guardian has contacted Pegg, Lin and Cho for comment.
This article was written by Catherine Shoard, for theguardian.com on Friday 8th July 2016 10.07 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010