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John Cho: Sulu Is A Badass December 16, 2007

by John Tenuto , Filed under: ST09 Cast , trackback

We haven’t heard much from John Cho, but in a great new interview with Star Trek Magazine the new Sulu talks Trek. The actor reveals that he isn’t a hard core fan, but says he has “more than a casual association” with Trek. He has been reviewing DVDs, but feels that he should “let J.J. dictate” how he should approach the role. Although Cho didn’t reveal any plot points, some of his answers gave insights into the character of Sulu in the new Star Trek movie. (see below…minor spoilers)

On what landing the role means to him:

…as an Asian American actor, there are certain things that you are never going to be able to do. There are certain acting roles that you are never going to get, and one of them is playing a cowboy. This, to me, is a realization of that dream – going into space and that kind of thing.

On what attracts him to the role of Sulu

I guess the macho stuff: Sulu’s going to be fun because he’s extremely skilled and a badass, but for me I would say more importantly , its the bigger stuff

Regarding his preparations for the role [note interview conducted in early November]

I’m not up for a month or so [early December]. In the meantime, the last two weeks, I’ve been starting some fight training, which has been really fun. It’s just a level of commitment and learning that I’ve never had to do for any part. It’s been great.

Action hero Hikaru?
Sulu may be best known for looking over his right shoulder to see which way Kirk wants him to turn, but The TV series and films have hinted at his ‘badass’ side. Of course pilots are traditionally known for being mavericks and since we will see him even younger than it makes sense. Plus it has been established that Sulu has a thing for swords and guns. We know one thing for sure…don’t call him ‘Tiny.’

Sulu showing off his skills

The latest issue of Star Trek Magazine has much more from Cho as well as other good articles on the film, the new tour and much more. Pick it on newsstands now.


1. Ty Webb - December 16, 2007

Sulu is a badass. I love Sulu. I hope he gets some decent stuff in this film.

2. 750 Mang - December 16, 2007


3. Harry Ballz - December 16, 2007

I can buy Sulu being a badass when he was young, but in the “dark edge” department, John Cho makes Scott Bakula look like Attila the Hun!! :)

4. Pragmaticus - December 16, 2007

Yes, Sulu is definitely a badass! I’d love to see some asskickery out of Sulu in this film.

5. valentine - December 16, 2007

Uh oh. A new cast member other than Quinto has just commented on their role. You know what that means? Yeah… It means the entire universe is about to explode. Way to go, jerk.

Where’s Jim Kirk when you need him?

6. I AM THX-1138 - December 16, 2007

I hope Cho get’s in the gym and puts on some muscle. Takei was pretty ripped when he was young and is still in pretty good shape. If I am to believe that Cho’s Sulu is a badass, then he should hit the BowFlex. He looked a little “tiny” in that H&K clip we recently saw.

7. Kirk's Girdle - December 16, 2007

That second pic looks like Sulu getting some bad ass. Sorry.

8. mojonaut - December 16, 2007

Whatever about how well-built he is, does he have the *voice* that Takei brought to the character that essentially became *part* of Sulu?

9. Kirk's Girdle - December 16, 2007

And Sulu’s chop-socky fighting skills often brought him swift and humiliating defeat against Kirk.

10. I AM THX-1138 - December 16, 2007


Whatever yourself. The article is about John Cho wanting Sulu to be a badass which will be hard to believe if he looks like he has the body of a 10 year old girl.

Have James Earl Jones do the voice-over and he can sound like Darth Vader.

11. Xai - December 16, 2007

9. Kirk’s Girdle – December 16, 2007

Like they were gonna let Sulu beat Kirk… who was the lead?… be real.

And your #7 comment…. really didn’t need to be said. True?

Sulu is a favorite of mine and hope the character gets more to do than drive and run the gas pedal.

12. Kirk's Girdle - December 16, 2007

Yes, but Kirk beat him with one punch in both “Mirror, Mirror” and “Catspaw”.

And regarding my #7 comment, I could have been more subtle. Perhaps saying it looks like a scene from George’s home movies.

13. Harry Ballz - December 16, 2007

Cho is built like a girl
Women look and want to hurl
He doesn’t do well in a fight
Usually fainting, all from fright
Him as Sulu, will we find a pearl?

14. Mike T. - December 16, 2007

What! They insult Sisko again! The Star Trek magazine has Kirk, Picard, and Janeway. Heck they even left Archer out!

15. Jabob Slatter - December 16, 2007

All that big guy has to do is pivot and put his left elbow into Tiny’s face. It’s not a convincing submission hold at all. That’s not the way for a little guy to beat a big guy. Unless the big guy is into the submission thing…

16. Kirk's Girdle - December 16, 2007

Re #14. If you ask me, they’re insulting Kirk and Picard as well. Janeway’s damn big on the cover.

17. Xai - December 16, 2007

I don’t see where someone’s sexual preference needs to be the subject of jokes.

18. Ali - December 16, 2007

Kirk’s punches were always modified slaps.

19. CanuckLou - December 16, 2007

@18 Bitch slaps…

20. Bobby - December 16, 2007

Takei as Sulu was amazing!!!!

I look forward to seeing what Cho brings to this beloved character. I have high hopes.

And I agree with some earlier post, gonna miss Takei’s voice.

21. Absoroka - December 16, 2007


22. Lendorien - December 16, 2007

Gotta agree with #14. They put Janeway in the middle with the biggest photo? The biggest lightweight gets the biggest photo? What the heck is this?

23. valentine - December 16, 2007


I don’t know, Why don’t you ask George Takei

Seriously, calm down, #7 was just making a friendly joke. It’s not like he said “I hate gay people” or something. If, for instance, this article were about Chris Pine talking about how Kirk is a badass, and then had a picture of him in the same humourous position, only with a woman, and the poster made the same joke, people wouldn’t be acting like prudes over it like they are now. I imagine if George were reading this he would have gotten a light chuckle out of it, too.

24. Dave Roberts - December 16, 2007

Three captains on the cover…. I sure can live without Psycho from Deep Shit Nine and that no good Crapcher from Enterprise.

25. Xai - December 16, 2007

#23 valentine, frankly I don’t have to modify my opinion for you.

26. richpit - December 16, 2007

Not on the Sulu subject, but on the cover subject: Janeway shouldn’t even BE on that cover. That character was a joke as a captain. No, not because she was a woman, just because it was a horrible character from the get-go.

Just my 2 cents, of course.

27. Pragmaticus - December 16, 2007

Kirk should be in the center of the cover.

28. Picard for President - December 16, 2007

^23 Valentine

I thought the joke was funny, too. Takai must have made a dozen similar funnies since he’s come out. I mean, “don’t call me Tiny” takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

IDIC only works when everyone’s cool. All it takes is one narrow mind or one overly “Shy” person and …


IDIC transmogrifies to LDAC – “Limited Diversity in Approved Combinations” lol!

29. Will Johnson - December 16, 2007

Sulu is a badass…. why does that remind me of something a drunk guy would say at a party? Oh, right, cus he’s the MILF guy.

30. valentine - December 16, 2007

Takei isn’t uptight about his sexuality, so why do you have to be?

31. Danya Romulus - December 16, 2007

The conspicuous non-inclusion of openly LGBT characters in Trek has been an issue for a while, one that writers had been eager to address on a number of occasions. But Brannon Braga implied that, while Paramount was fine with them going through with it, Rick Berman always nixed it at the last moment.

George Takei is, as we know, gay, and Sulu was the only main TOS character to never have a love interest (not including the Mirror Universe). Now that the franchise is in other hands–and I mean this totally seriously–do you think there’s any chance they might make Sulu gay in Trek ’08?

32. NZorak - December 16, 2007

Why the hell did Janeway get the largest picture? What an insult, not only to Kirk and Picard, but to Cisco and Archer. Voyager killed Trek. Burn the witch!

33. 8 of 12 - December 16, 2007

I’m glad they had the sense to put Captain Janeway center stage and leave Archer exactly where he belongs: nowhere.

34. valentine - December 16, 2007


Yeah, but Sulu had a daughter though, remember? True, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the character isn’t gay, but it would be sort of a stretch.

Fear not though, if this movie is a success, and the upcoming Star Wars television show does well, then there is no way a new Trek show won’t be coming in the near future, so there’s a chance for that there. That unless they make a character JUST for the sake of them being gay, you can always see right through it when they do it like that, it has to come about naturally,

35. Xai - December 16, 2007

Valentine, I am done with this subject. I don’t care who’s gay, straight or how they speak of themselves. I don’t think this is the site for it though. There are teenage users on this site. Do you need it more spelled out than that?

36. Xai - December 16, 2007

Let’s get back to John Cho…

37. DEMODE - December 16, 2007

I always though of Sulu as the “Boba Fett” of the Star Trek show; especially the movies. Just something about him. He came across as a very cool dude.

It still amazes me that they never gave him his own show.

38. j - December 16, 2007

I forgot Sulu could be a badass at times…yay.

39. Ty Webb - December 16, 2007


You seem to be forgetting ‘Generations’ and Sulu’s daughter. Not to mention there are plenty of TOS episodes where Sulu is eyeing up the ladies.

40. Dennis Bailey - December 16, 2007

#31: “But Brannon Braga implied that, while Paramount was fine with them going through with it, Rick Berman always nixed it at the last moment.”

I want to see that quote. Post a link or retract.

41. Rastaman - December 16, 2007

I hope they make Sulu gay in the new movie as well.

42. Anthony Pascale - December 16, 2007

I agree with #36…John Cho and Sulu in the movie seems to be the topic

43. newman - December 16, 2007

#37…I totally agree. Star Trek: Excelsior would’ve been awesome.

44. Danya Romulus - December 16, 2007


My mistake, it was not Braga, but Ronald Moore:

“Tell me why there are no gay characters in Star Trek. This is one of those uncomfortable questions I hate getting when I was working on the show, because there is no good answer for it. There is no answer for it other than people in charge don’t want gay characters in Star Trek, period… That’s one of the great things about Paramount. Paramount left us alone. They always left us alone. They let Next Gen do whatever it wanted. God knows it let Deep Space Nine do whatever we wanted. It lets Voyager do whatever it wants. The studio is not the problem here. The studio is going to let you go wherever you want to go, as long as they believe that this is quality, as long as they believe it’s good work. You’ve just got to come up with something good.”

It was from an article in Fandom magazine. The original article isn’t online anymore, but I’m quoting from this page where they cite it:

45. Mary Jay - December 16, 2007

Sulu, a badass? Sorry, don’t see it at all…

Fencing isn’t badass… Picard does fencing, y’a know…

Boxing would have been badass, fencing … noooooo. Especially not when bouncing around in the corridors, shirtless, looking for “Richeloo” (if you can’t say it right, don’t bother saying it at all :-P Oh, I’m French-speaking, btw ;-))

46. Shatner_Fan_2000 - December 16, 2007

“Fight training” is the part that interests me! So it seems that not just Kirk (who is expected to), but also Sulu will be involved in hand to hand combat? If so, very cool. Might this be the “amazing scene” George Takei mentioned earlier?

47. CmdrR - December 16, 2007

It would be great to have Sulu do something badass, like pick a bar fight. Do we know if the characters will be “dark” or will they be closer to (albeit before) TOS?

Yeah, yeah, I know. 373 days. tic tic tic

48. CmdrR - December 16, 2007

OH and Anthony, all I want for Christmas is an accurate idea of what the E looks like. Come on, a little Saurian Brandy, some credits thrown around in the right places. You can do it.

49. Oregon Trek Geek - December 16, 2007

7. Kirk’s Girdle – December 16, 2007
That second pic looks like Sulu getting some bad ass.

LOL. Thanks so much for that. :D

50. Jabob Slatter - December 16, 2007

Hopefully they keep the cowboy spirit that was inherent in TOS. Lots of fighting and f*#@ing.

I wonder, though, how much they’ll have to do for the other characters. I doubt we’re going to see much of Sulu, Chekov, Scotty, etc. Hell, I wonder even how large of a part Kirk will play in this. Hopefully they’ll give him enough to do. We can’t have two Spocks completely running the show, right?

Chris Pine has to be completely daunted by this, because he’s gotta know most of you are going to rip him a new one no matter how he plays it. I think his task is pretty much a lose/lose proposition, kind of like Chris Pine’s own Kobayashi Maru test.

51. Cobalt Ben - December 16, 2007

Sulu is definitely showing off his skills in that second pic!

52. spockboy - December 16, 2007

Well I know what Takei thinks of Shatner now….

: )

53. SolFlyer - December 16, 2007

45. Its not the weapon that makes someone a “badass”, its how they use it.

I would never be afraid of Picard in a sword fight. He always plays by the rules. Sulu on the other hand…

A starship pilot would have to graduate from the Top Gun school for Top Guns(the elite of the elite – of the elite). Just because the character in the show just got the “GPS” lines, it doesn’t mean that is all there is to him. It looks like Mr. Cho may get to do the Sulu that Mr. Takei always wanted to.

54. TrekNerd - December 16, 2007

“7. Kirk’s Girdle – December 16, 2007
That second pic looks like Sulu getting some bad ass. Sorry.”

Sulu is proving he’s not tiny.

55. trektacular - December 16, 2007

Hopefully Sulu will have more character moments in this film, something that was denied on 98% of TOS episodes.

56. TJ Trek - December 17, 2007

considering I know chow only from his comic roles, it will be interesting to see what JJ saw in this guy, that wanted to put him up as the “reincarnation” of Sulu. I would see the movie, if only to see how these actors portray these characters.

Just a note to JJ if these characters aren’t portrayed right in the eyes of most star trek fans, then this film could be a big black mark all over you’re career. Let’s hope you have the right idea here with choosing Cho and other such acotors to play these parts

But let me end by just saying that I am more worried about Rider then I am about Cho. I would never in a million years have seen Rider in a Star Trek film.

57. Jan - December 17, 2007

By the way: Don’t we need an update in the casting-section regarding Paul McGillion? He is still not in the list yet.

58. Anthony Pascale - December 17, 2007

the cast page will be updated this week…I am hoping to have more to report in that area this week.

59. Iowagirl - December 17, 2007


I agree regarding the fencing/badass correlation (having said that, Kirk does fencing too, so the badass quality of fencing can’t be fully dismissed). ;-)

And I certainly do like Sulu’s “Richelieu, beware!” sequence, no matter how he pronounces it. It’s a wonderful scene and a memorable Sulu moment.

60. Frank - December 17, 2007

Oh my!

61. Commodore Redshirt - December 17, 2007

I like the fact Cho is fight training!
It is yet another sign that this will be a good film.

Action in Trek has always been one of the key aspects.
Humor, sex, wonder, and a look at society, also play rolls.
Exploration in not always safe and I for one always loved Trek “fight music” and I hope we get a score that gives us the TOS feel.

So far on my checklist:
1] Actors… YES, I like.
2] Production… JJ&Co. seem like a solid group, so YES
3] Fans… YES, we seem to be (mostly) happy about all this.
4] Media… YES, the most hype and interest in a new Trek project in years!

Not bad… they get it!
When I read about JJ&Co I feel a bit like Spock watching Kirk see the diamonds, coal, sulfur, etc in “Arena” and I say “He Knows…”

62. Stanky McFibberich - December 17, 2007

Apparently this movie will be about 6 hours long.

63. Andy Patterson - December 17, 2007


Harry, you’re funny.

64. CmdrR - December 17, 2007

(best Hagrid voice:) “You’re a whizzer, Harry!”

65. CmdrR - December 17, 2007

uh… wizard

66. Iowagirl - December 17, 2007


Maybe it will only seem like an eternity.

67. Jupiter1701 - December 17, 2007

Yep it takes a real badass to flip a couple of switches on a console and look real concerned at whatever is on the viewscreen. Then, to stretch his acting ability, every once and awhile he gets to say, “Aye, Captain.”

It would be a big suprise if Sulu in the new movie does much more than that. But maybe George Takai had some input on the script and now they’re going to get away from cannon. Because now I’m picturing Sulu kicking some real butt and saving the day, being the hero at the end of the movie, pushing Jimmy Kirk on his butt and demanding that HE be the new captain of the Enterprise. Not the pretty-boy womanizer who takes credit for everyone’s elses hard work.

Sulu goes on to being the captain, the best friend of Spock, saving the galaxy numberous times, etc. And when Spock is toast in the radiation room his last words to his captain and best friend are, “I have been . . . . and always shall be . . . your wife.”

(On second thought, maybe we ought to stick to cannon, afterall. I kinda like the original version better.)

68. Diabolik - December 17, 2007

I predict a lot of scenes that actors talk about doing will end up on the cutting room floor, as is often the case by the time the movie is done. So hold anything mentioned with a grain of salt until you see it on the big screen, and don’t be disappointed. I let that happen to me with Superman Returns, and it hurt my perception of the film, until I was able to watch it and forget about all the things I had heard were going to be in it, but were cut for time.

69. Shatner_Fan_2000 - December 17, 2007

#68 … you may be right. Kal Penn, John Cho’s Harold & Kumar buddy, was in SR … but didn’t utter a single line of dialogue! I admit I am a bit concerned by the amount of characters in this Trek film. Orci and Kurtzman did a good job of balancing their many characters in Transformers, but I don’t want Kirk, the 2 Spocks, or McCoy sold short here! This is a TOS-centric movie after all.

70. AJ - December 17, 2007

What’s his great line in “Enemy Within” when Sulu’s freezing on the planet? “Ya think you could find a long rope and send down a pot of hot coffee?”

Badass indeed.

Sulu reveals his badassedness when he comes to the rescue in TUC.

Also, mirror-Sulu thinks he’s badass, but is easily disposed of by Kirk’s arm chops.

I would hope that the he’ll also be a kick-ass navigator and not hanging with Beauregard and Rand in the arboretum.

71. Dennis Bailey - December 17, 2007

Sulu’s badassness will probably be shown during sequences before he becomes a member of the Enterprise crew.

72. Harry Ballz - December 17, 2007

Dennis, are you implying that one’s “badassness” tends to take place before we assume great responsibility?

73. Dr. Image - December 17, 2007

71- Agreed. Once he gets dropped into the command structure- that would tone him down.

That UK ST mag is a big disappointment. It’s just rehashing everything yet again, and BADLY.
And no Sisko?
They can stuff it.

74. Dennis Bailey - December 17, 2007

No, I’m guessing that we won’t see all these folks together on the Enterprise for more than a few minutes at or near the end of the movie.

Seems logical, from everything we’ve heard so far.

75. brady - December 17, 2007

Check out the new fan film farraguts for want of a nail…interesting ending.

76. Harry Ballz - December 17, 2007

To paraphrase a quote from The Voyage Home………..

“A guess? You, Bailey? That’s extraordinary!”

Your observations and arguments are usually clinically logical and analytical to the bone….In spite of your denials, I still suspect you’re half-Vulcan! :)

77. Steve Hill - December 17, 2007

I’m guessing before the older Spock goes back in time he is living some time after the Generations or Nemesis movies that way there is some way Picard could have a small part at the begining of the movie. And older Kirk at the end of the movie if Spock makes it back. Picard could help Spock get back in time and older Kirk alive would prove time was changed when older Spock got back.

78. Kirk's Girdle - December 17, 2007

To all involved. Sorry to cause a PC battle. I made a little joke based on a picture that struck me as funny. Anyone who thinks George Takei would be hurt by the joke must’ve missed the Shatner Roast.

And for the record, George is awesome.

79. Kirk's Girdle - December 17, 2007

RE #70 Enemy Within

Don’t forget Sulu’s other great line, “That’s nippy.”

80. ZoomZoom - December 17, 2007

#58 lets me guess? Shatner? :)

81. FlyingTigress - December 17, 2007


“I predict a lot of scenes that actors talk about doing will end up on the cutting room floor, as is often the case by the time the movie is done. So hold anything mentioned with a grain of salt until you see it on the big screen, and don’t be disappointed.”

Don’t forget… Those scenes will end up on the bonus disc of the THIRD go-around special edition DVD release of “Star Trek” (the one with the collectible Kirk statuette — not the second release with the collectible Leonard Nimoy card which will have just a portion of the ‘unseen’ footage).

82. Dennis Bailey - December 17, 2007

#76:”Your observations and arguments are usually clinically logical and analytical to the bone….In spite of your denials, I still suspect you’re half-Vulcan! ”

They have sex more often than I do.

83. ZoomZoom - December 17, 2007

#82 and until they are green in the face.

84. Iowagirl - December 17, 2007


It’ll probably be more like Nero’s second henchman, the cloak-and-dagger Federation Captain’s third-degree cousin, Pike’s long-forgotten aunt, and Sulu’s fight trainer.


85. Harry Ballz - December 17, 2007

Dennis, if you’re not half-Vulcan then, at the very least, your great-grandfather was Sherlock Holmes…..analytical observations and all that!

The games afoot!! :)

86. Harry Ballz - December 17, 2007

#65 “uh…wizard”

Some would try and call me a wizard
I liked it when Kirk wrestled the lizard
Us Trek fans have a special bond
That makes me want to wave my wand
Making me young again and not an old gizzard!

87. ZtoA - December 17, 2007

I guess we’re going to see some

Crouching Sulu Hidden Phaser in this one…

88. K. M. Kirby - December 17, 2007

I cannot picture Sulu giving up on Kirk after Generations. He would still be working on a rescue attempt 15 years later.

89. Greg2600 - December 17, 2007

When an actor in a Star Trek production refers to his character as “bad ass” I cringe. And after George Takei spent decades fighting for respect for Sulu. Ha ha.

90. Jabob Slatter - December 17, 2007

They probably wrote in a decent scene for each character just so they could interest the actors, and those scenes may or may not even be filmed, let along appear in the movie. Mr. Cho may be working out for no reason at all, but they got him enthused about the whole thing by including a scene for him. It doesn’t mean it will be in the film.

91. S. John Ross - December 18, 2007

Yeah … whether by plan or by simple necessity, a lot of ensemble will probably fall by the wayside. There’s not much room in 90-120 minutes to properly do justice to Sulu, Uhura, Scotty, etc while still telling a Spock-and-Kirk-and-Older-Spock-and-Time-Travel-Wrapper-Romulans story as well.

I’m assuming that the plan is (A) Reboot Franchise and then (B) Make lots of movies where everyone gets to shine eventually … but one of the real weaknesses of the big screen, compared to TV, is you get a lot less room for ensemble development. Ah well :) Still lookin’ forward to seeing Cho in whatever scraps of awesomeness they let him have.

92. K. M. Kirby - December 18, 2007

A movie must rely less on TV style 3-camera ensemble development and more on character-driven action sequences, but that’s the advantage of Trek. The group dynamics have already taken place over years on the small screen. That’s why it’s so disappointing that nobody has conceived of a Voyager movie yet.

DS9 might make for a different sort of movie altogether, but it may still happen. Maybe something like a Robert Altman piece about a day in the life of a star base?

93. Deloravius - December 18, 2007

Let’s not forget Sulu’s bad-ass karate chop in “Day of the Dove,” when he was able to put down a Klingon with one blow. He was in pretty good form, too…I’d recommend that you guys watch that episode to see what I mean. Sulu rules!!

94. S. John Ross - December 18, 2007

#92 – I agree re the advantage of Trek, but if the idea is to make this reboot accessible to newcomers (which, I assume, _must_ be the idea) then they’re limited as to how much they can really exploit that advantage … they can’t really expect the audience to come into the theater pre-equipped with even the most basic Trek lore beyond “Kirk’s the captain, Spock is an alien who arches his eyebrow and there’s a hot chick answering the space-phone.” :)

95. ZtoA - December 18, 2007

I think they should give the new Sulu a Hong Kong action flick scene straight out of something like Jackie Chan’s Super Cop.

96. Vejur - December 19, 2007

Is it me but isn’t Cho too old to play Sulu. Really couldn’t they found younger Asian actor. I still like him but if there is sequels to XI movie, he will be pushing 40s.

97. steve adams - December 19, 2007

#27 yeah the entire mag should be all Kirk… (You are the kirk un-dead):|^
#73 yeah that mag has been rehashing old trek stories for about 2 years now. They (titan publishing)seems to be buying their time until more info comes out about the film and then not giving us the whole story. Typical:|
#92. I agree completly and also pissed about the no Voyager film : is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.