"Star Trek Beyond" co-screenwriter and co-star Simon Pegg has explained the reasoning behind writing one of the franchise's beloved original characters, Hikaru Sulu, as a gay man with a male partner in the upcoming film.
George Takei, the openly gay "Star Trek" actor who originated the Sulu character in the 1960s television series and later played him in six films, called the move "really unfortunate" in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
Pegg, who portrays Scotty in the new film, told The Guardian in a statement, "He's right. It is unfortunate. It's unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn't featured an LGBT character until now."
Pegg said, "[Director] Justin Lin, [co-writer] Doug Jung and I loved the idea of [the gay character] being someone we already knew because the audience has a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice."
Takei also expressed concern that an openly gay Sulu isn't true to creator Gene Roddenberry's vision for the character.
But Pegg said, "I don't believe Gene Roddenberry's decision to make the prime timeline's Enterprise crew straight was an artistic one — more a necessity of the time."
Zachary Quinto, who is openly gay and has portrayed Mr. Spock since the 2009 reboot of the franchise, defended Pegg's decision in an interview with Pedestrian.TV, saying, "As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed."
Quinto added, "My hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from, especially, young people who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world."
"Star Trek Beyond" opens July 22.