Takei Helped Abrams Choose Cho

George Takei has talked before about how he has met with Star Trek director JJ Abrams before the film was cast and that he enthusiastically approves of the new Sulu, John Cho. But in a new interview with CinemaSpy, the original Sulu says that he helped Abrams overcome concerns over fan reaction of casting Sulu with a non-Japanese actor.

Takei tells CinemaSpy:

He was concerned because he was going to cast a Korean-American actor and he thought there might be some discussion by Star Trek fans. I told him Gene’s idea was to have Sulu represent all of Asia … Apparently J.J. didn’t know that, so he was quite comforted by that background information and went ahead and cast John Cho

In the rest of the interview, Takei speaks of how Sulu was given a non national-specific name to allow the character to represent all of Asia. It is certainly welcome news to see that Abrams was taking fan sensitivity into account when making his casting decisions (and consulting with the original actor). As reported before, JJ Abrams has met with all the remaining actors from Star Trek The Original Series.

More from Takei on Abrams, Cho and Roddenberry’s vision at CinemaSpy.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Good example of Abrams dedication and consideration, and his intellegence when it comes to getting help from the former actors

A nice, short, positive quote from George.
Thank you for passing that along.
Best in the future, G.

Come on…give us an Excelsior Series.. one or two seasons would be fine.

Before the man dies!!!!

..or maybe just a mad for tv movie…


I want more than just the bit in Trek VI and Voyager.

Excelsior moive would be nice but dubt we will see it…..maybe somday Cho might get the chance. First they have to bring Trek back to TV!

I think Cho is a good choice and I am glad they asked Takei for help.

When I interviewed both Nichelle Nichols and LeVar Burton back in February at the SF Ball in Bournemouth England.

Nichols said that Abrams was very, very respectful of the original series and the roles that the original actors created.

In fact LeVar Burton commented that Abrams seems to be doing everything with this movie that Stuart Baird failed to do with Nemesis.

In terms of respect for Star Trek and the actors I think JJ Abrams deserves a hit movie.

I find it very positive that he has invited input from all the original cast members and think it is going to make for a really good movie, which am looking foreword to seeing once it hits in the UK.

quibbling over the race of an actor has always struck me as very un-star trek

I feel a lot of good vibes for this movie — more than enough (knock wood) for just one movie, in fact. I think that all this good will, all this good feeling, all the interest generated among A-listers like Spielberg and Ford will do the entire franchise good. Meaning that (if the Great Bird of the Galaxy so favors) these positive reviews will carry through to what hopes will be a series of new movies, and maybe even a renewed television franchise.

I feel that with the right combination of marketing tie-ins and so forth, Trek can easily reach the potential we all want for it.

ST:TMP had its own Star Trek Meal with one of the major fast food chains. I want to see that kind of forward-looking thinking restored among those now at the helm.

Canonicity is fine, but popularity, carefully nurtured through planning and good foresight, is what gives a franchise life, and let’s hope we see a balance between these two elements. So far, it looks very good.

Exactly on point, 10! Good show!

I actually still have my plastic Star Trek: Nemesis cup. They didn’t have a Happy Meal for it, though.

(That could have made the difference. ;-) )

The “Nemesis” happy meals committed mass suicide.

I’m glad they care what the original actors think.

Too bad De and James don’t get to have a say in it.

The “Nemesis” happy meals committed mass suicide.

Better than any line in that movie! Classic.

Awesome commercial!

But I heard that Nemesis did have a tie-in deal with the regional chain Del Taco or something: http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Star_Trek_Nemesis#Promotion

But yeah, I agree with #8, but I admit that when I first heard John Cho was playing Sulu I was thinking that I looked more like Sulu (and I’m only half-Asian, Cantonese, not Japanese), I didn’t think about his nationality per se though.

My second thought was that he’s demonstrated very solid acting in the H&K movies and I was a fan. I’d like to see Better Luck Tomorrow. I hear that’s good to, and I can only presume he’s good in it.

It would be cool to see Takei in an Excelsior series, or at least a sequel to his book To the Stars. Certainly a lot has happened to him since the end of that book.

I think I remember reading he was named for the Sulu Sea, the site of a famous World War II naval battle involving the aircraft carrier Enterprise. Find out all about it on the History channel’s *awesome* series Battle 360 — every episode devoted to the beloved carrier! (end plug)

It makes total sense… there is no “L” in the Japanese language. “Sulu” could not possibly be Japanese to begin with. I always assumed he was an Asian mix for that reason.

All they have to do now is retcon Sulu’s background in the books to his being half Korean, half Japanese! ;)

The real message here is about racialism. It’s geography. It’s skin color, etc. Man, I cannot wait for 2012 and the alien invasion. THEN you’re going to see all da humonz get together and take racialism to new heights as we fight for our freedoms. The aliens of course will create hybrids and then allegiances will be really questioned. Like in Shaun of the Dead when it was his mum was a vampire and he had to shoot her.

Let’s not even talk about when the Terminators show up. Then its a 3 way battle for the universe.



16. Eric Cheung
You are absolutely correct. In fact, that was how I found out about Nemesis in the first place. Looking back, I should have seen that as an omen.

Sorry to double-post, but I’ve been thinking the whole Sulu/Pan-Asian thing, and I just came to my own conclusion. I personally compare Sulu’s mixed Asian heritage to Spock’s being half human/half Vulcan. Spock chose to indentify himself as a Vulcan despite his half-human heritage, so perhaps Sulu, despite his mixed ancestry, eventually chose to identify himself as Japanese (no doubt influenced by Takei himself).

That’s certainly an interesting angle, 23, and one that bears consideration.

Enough With The Fluff! Let’s see some production photos, a shot of the bridge or perhaps a better look at the Enterprise, maybe??

There’s plenty of cross-over from Japan to Korea (and China too.) Some of it is unpleasant history, other parts more benign. While everyone has the right to be proud of his/her heritage Sulu can certainly be a mix. As I’ve said, I’m Anglo-Irish-Swedish-Dutch and my son add Chinese to THAT.

I’m doing a news story now on Geneography — basically following the movements of peoples since we ALL decended from Mitochondrial Eve about 70,000 or so years ago. Remember to get her a Mother’s Day card everyone.

I love Star Trek. I can’t wait for this movie!

25. Len Krieger – April 30, 2008
“Enough With The Fluff! Let’s see some production photos, a shot of the bridge or perhaps a better look at the Enterprise, maybe??”

If there was non-fluff out there, Anthony would have it here. I expect the non-fluff to start appearing in drib and drabs in 6-9 months.

John Cho was a great choice for Sulu, and I am glad that Takei was there to set him on his course! I have no doubt that whatever JJ Abrams produces, it will be with great attention to detail.

28, I concur. To me, the anticipation is part of the fun. It’s like Christmas morning right before you open the packages. :-)

^3. The bookends of “World Enough And Time” were a good taste of Excelsior. I was annoyed when Voyager wasted an opportunity by retelling part of “The Undiscovered Country” rather than show Sulu’s crew do something, anything else.

Come on…give us an Excelsior Series.. one or two seasons would be fine.

Before the man dies!!!!

Please? This really needs to be put to rest, George is 71 years old and a crappy actor at that! He couldn’t carry my ballsack, much less a T.V. series. Some of this fanboy crap has to stop!

Darth “Excelsior-sak” Ballz

Takei = class act. We all know this.

Given the preponderence of straight-to-DVD tie-ins for BIG movies (animated and live action) in recent years** someone at Paramount should seriously consider a straight-to-DVD ‘Excelsior’ for next year.

Even in live-action, Paramount has the sets and costumes in storage and plenty of people who would be willing to work on something like this.

It would only need to be an hour or so. It would strengthen the brand, promote excitement in the core fan base.. every indication of the past five years is that this shtick works and works well.

I’m speaking as someone who does this kinda thing for a living, not just as a Star Trek fan. It would work.

** Animatrix, Clone Wars, Van Helsing, Batman, Riddick, etc.

Paramount doesn’t have the sets and costumes anymore… they left during the big “fire sale” of ’07…

An animated TOS show might work, though… if it were done correctly, and for a “non child” audience…

Gotta agree with, sorta, #32.

I think a Takei featured Excelsior series would last all of a few episodes before it was laughed off of the air.

I for one am growing weary of him. Flame away if you must.


I agree w/ #36.

George is OK with me. He’s a class act at cons. Always such a happy guy. More power to him.
This should shut the Cho bashers up.

I remember him bringing his mother along on Seatrek ’93. What a blast! Wife and I won the costume contest as “Beach Borg!” Friggin’ awesome Trek memories…

Want ye’ an Excelsior adventure?

just splash around in yer bathtub like I do… havin’ me ships and makin’ me “tweeep!” and “ka-blooie” noises whilst actin’ out an Excelsior episode…suds me up, thar’ Sulu!

… they kicked me out o’ the hostel.


I like John Cho ,but his past roles have been slacker/stoner guys in comedy.So his Sulu will have to be a break from his past roles.
Maybe they’ll do more with this Sulu that TOS and have him play off of Chekov.Kinda like a R2d2 / C3PO comic foil.

I thought that in Star Trek IV when they were in China Town that Sulu refered to that as home. Maybe he just meant San Francisco was home to Star Fleet. I’ll have to rewatch the movie.

BritDude- LOL!

Besides, this is not setting a precedent. Linda Park (who’s Korean) played a Japanese character (Hoshi Sato).

I think an Excelsior series would be moving backwards. I’d wager that if you were to ask anyone who wasn’t a Trek fan who the captain of the Excelsior was, they would look at you and say “The what?”. Unfortunately for the Excelsior fans, those would be the same people you would need to watch the show. I have now come to realize that in order for Star Trek to continue, it has to be a new, fresh approach. I look back on TOS with a lot of fondness, but even TMP was a departure from it’s origins. TNG was a further departure. All the spinoffs stayed basically in the same vein with the exception of Enterprise, by which time I think the fanbase had become a bit blase. The style of storytelling has changed. The age of the core audience is getting older. The new fans want something that is more in step with their tastes. I think there is a way to honor the old while giving Star Trek a fresh start. I think if time has proven anything, it’s that the core fanbase will be loyal to Trek for a great deal of time no matter what was being aired. But even that will eventually show diminishing returns. I love TOS. And I love TNG, just not quite as much. The rest I could take or leave to be quite honest. And maybe I am not the only one. Time for fresh starts but with the familiar setting. Time for TOS, but with a young crew. Time to move forward with familiar characters.

I am so ready for this. In just over a year.

44 Yeah .It’ll be great to see the characters depicted as they were intended to be by different actors.
One could make the point that everything beyond the original series was made for Trekkies because the original carried the actors over and depicted the characters aging (and dying).
I think they held on to the old actors because of Trekkie pressure and those actors lobbying the trekkie base.
Not a bad thing .we got to see our heroes grow old etc.But that’s NOT HOW THEY WERE ORIGINALLY WRITTEN.

You’re a sneaky one, Captain Otter!

jc. good point dude.

The new Trek movie will bomb and get horrible reviews.

#48- While you have your crystal ball out, would you mind telling who wins the next five Super Bowls? Oh, and does my dog Rex ever find true love, or will he keep humping our patio furniture and howling at the moon? Thanks for your insight into the future!

excelsior would make a good animated series. george could live forever–he’s Japanese.

so take advantage of his great voice and stylize his middle-aged exploits with Yeoman Sum Yungai.