"Star Trek Beyond" is boldly going where the franchise has never gone before.
In "Star Trek Beyond" — the third in the rebooted franchise — Hikaru Sulu, played by John Cho, will be the series' first LGBT character. Sulu and his partner are also parents to a daughter.
Cho revealed the news in an interview with Australian newspaper The Herald Sun Thursday. Cho and other cast members traveled to Sydney to promote the new film.
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He said director Justin Lin and co-writer Simon Pegg decided to make Sulu gay as a nod to George Takei, who played the part in the original "Star Trek" series and movies. Takei came out as gay in 2005 and married his partner in 2008. It was also a sign of what Cho called the changing times.
"I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out [of] it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one's personal orientations," Cho told the newspaper.
Takei told The Hollywood Reporter Thursday that he's "delighted that there's a gay character," but called the news "unfortunate."
"Unfortunately, it's a twisting of Gene's [Roddenberry, the creator of the "Star Trek" series] creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate," Takei said.
Takei said Rodenberry approached Sulu as a straight man.
Sulu's partners have been notably absent on "Star Trek" up until now. But in the 1994 movie "Star Trek Generations" — the first in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" film franchise — his daughter Demora was shown as an adult.
"Star Trek" has often showcased what were once considered daring plot lines about gender identity and LGBT representation.
Many minor characters are members of the LGBT community in "Star Trek" novels and comic books, and androgynous species have been introduced on series such as "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
On the 1990s series "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Terry Farrell's Jadzia Dax played a joined Trill, a humanoid with a symbiont — a parasite-like being —implanted in her body that possessed the memories of past, deceased Trill hosts. In one episode, Jadzia and another joined female Trill whose symbionts once inhabited the bodies of a male and female couple made "Star Trek" history by exchanging the franchise's first romantic same-sex kiss.
"Star Trek Beyond" is set for release on July 22. The movie also stars returning actors Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban and Anton Yelchin, who died last month at age 27. Idris Elba makes his debut as a villain named Krall.