That turned out to be Hikaru Sulu, who is played by John Cho in the films. The original role was played by Star Trek icon George Takei, who officially came out in 2005. Many thought the new direction for the character would be welcomed by the actor with open arms, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
In an interview with THR, Takei describes that this has been in discussion for awhile now, and while he loves the idea of there being a gay character in the Star Trek universe, he doesn't necessarily think that character should be Sulu.
"I'm delighted that there's a gay character. Unfortunately, it's a twisting of Gene's creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate."
He's had a number of talks with the cast and crew behind Star Trek Beyond, including Sulu actor John Cho, who called him to tell him the news. Takei recalls their first conversation on the topic.
"I told him, '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.'"
That call was followed by a second call from Director Justin Lin. "I said, 'This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen," Takei says."
While his opinion never changed on the matter, Cho later reached out to him before the news was about to break, asking "what should he do." Takei told Cho to not worry about it and to continue to fulfill his obligations, but he still doesn't believe it was the best way to go for the character.0comments
"I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed," Takei says. "I thought after that conversation with Justin that was going to happen. Months later, when I got that email from Simon Pegg, 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 letter he is referring to was from Simon Pegg, who praised him for his LGBT advocacy. Takei believed it to be a sign that they had changed course, but that didn't turn out to be the case. We'll just have to wait until Star Trek Beyond releases to see if the final film can change Takei's mind.