George Takei is "delighted" 'Star Trek' is exploring diversity.
The 79-year-old actor previously said he believes the decision to portray Hikaru Sulu - who he originally played in the 1960s TV series - as in a same-sex relationship in upcoming movie 'Star Trek Beyond' was "unfortunate", but he has now issued a lengthy statement to clarify his comments, insisting he is pleased there will be a gay character, but he wishes it had been a "new hero".
He wrote on Facebook: "Let me be clear: I am not disappointed that there is a gay character in 'Star Trek'. On the contrary, as I made clear, I am delighted that the 'Star Trek' franchise has addressed this issue, which is truly one of diversity. It is thrilling to know that future generations will not see LGBTs go wholly unrepresented in the Trek universe.
"On the specific question of Sulu being gay, when I was first approached with the concept, I responded that I hoped instead that Gene Roddenberry's original characters and their backgrounds would be respected. How exciting it would be instead if a new hero might be created, whose story could be fleshed out from scratch, rather than reinvented. To me, this would have been even more impactful."
Writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin decided to make Sulu gay in homage to George - who came out in 2005 and is married to Brad Altman - as a sci-fi icon and LGBT activist and though he was "flattered" by the tribute, he felt it wasn't "true" to creator Gene Roddenberry's original vision.
He continued: "While I understand that we are in an alternate timeline with the new 'Trek' movies, for me it seemed less than necessary to tinker with an existing character in order to fulfill Gene's hope of a truly diverse 'Trek' universe. And while I am flattered that the character of Sulu apparently was selected as an homage to me, this was never about me or what I wanted. It was about being true to Gene's vision and storytelling.
"Gene had wanted long ago to include LGBT characters, and we spoke personally and specifically about the lack of them. Gene understandably felt constrained by the sensitivities of the time...
"On this 50th year anniversary of Star Trek, my hope was to honour his foresight and bravery, as well as his ability to create discussion and diversity despite these constraints."
George ended his statement by praising Simon for his "daring and groundbreaking" vision for the movie and wished John Cho, who portrays the USS Enterprise helmsman in the films, well.
He concluded: "But 'Star Trek' has always pushed the boundaries and opened new opportunities for actors, including myself. I am eternally grateful to have been part of this incredible and continuing family.
"I wish John Cho well in the role I once played, and congratulate Simon Pegg on his daring and groundbreaking storytelling. While I would have gone with the development of a new character in this instance, I do fully understand and appreciate what they are doing--as ever, boldly going where no one has gone before. 'Star Trek' will live long and prosper."