Star Trek Beyond co-writer Simon Pegg has said he “respectfully disagrees” with George Takei, after the actor called the news that Hikaru Sulu would be gay in the new movie “really unfortunate”. Takei, who is openly gay and played Sulu in the original series and movies, said that the franchise should have made a new character gay, instead of “twisting” Gene Roddenberry’s creation.

John Cho as Lieutenant Hikaru SuluJohn Cho as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu.

In a statement released to The Guardian Pegg said: “I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration. However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.”

Addressing Takei’s suggestion that the franchise should have created a new gay character, Pegg said: “We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?”

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Justin Lin, Doug Jung and I loved the idea of it being someone we already knew because the audience have a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice. Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic.”

Pegg added: “Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere.”

“Whatever dimension we inhabit, we all just want to be loved by those we love (and I love George Takei). I can’t speak for every reality but that must surely true of this one. Live long and prosper.” Takei made his original comments to The Hollywood Reporter after director Justin Lin announced Sulu would be gay in the new film.

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"I’m delighted that there’s a gay character," Takei said. "Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate." The actor said that he had made his feelings known to the team behind the movie when Lin first told him Sulu was going to be gay.

"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,” Takei said. “He left me feeling that that was going to happen.”