John Cho Explains His Three Reservations About Making Sulu Gay
Every single one of you who voted for John Cho in this year’s Pajiba 10 should be immensely proud of yourselves. Well done, you! If you need reasons why (though if you voted, you don’t), Vulture just published an interview that will make you swoon, think, and love, in all orders. Definitely check out the whole thing, but for a few teasers, here are a couple thoughts, indirectly from the brain of your pretend boyfriend.
On how technical elements in film play as big a role as our ideas themselves
If you don’t think of a person as fully human, you sort of stop short and go, That’s good enough. Do you remember Doug Liman’s film Go? I remember Taye Diggs in that movie, and he was charcoal black. I was surprised to see him in How Stella Got Her Groove Back — I realized that Go was not an accurate representation of his skin tone whatsoever. And I’ve met him. He was carelessly lit. Why is that? Why is one carelessly lit? The white people were carefully lit.
On how weird it is that racism is voiced so casually in terms of casting
They’ll say, “We can’t cast an Asian because this other person is Asian,” or “We’ve got another Asian.” The fact that people are very open about it is very surprising to me, because you assume it, based upon the product. It would be weird to be in human resources and say, “Oh, we can’t hire another Asian in accounting, because there’s a black dude in accounting, so, thank you very much.”
On why he would rather play James Bond than “Condorman” (or any superhero)
James Bond is different. I wouldn’t have to think about that at all, because you would get to wear cool suits. I mean, that’s dope. Getting into a skintight suit, for some reason, that’s the only drawback for me. And then the pretend pew pew pew!
And the reservations he shared surrounding the Sulu news.
It was Simon’s [Pegg, the screenwriter] idea. Then he and Doug Jung, his co-writer, spoke to Justin about it. I heard about it from Justin early on, when he had accepted the gig and was at Paramount getting his team together. I went to his office and we got reacquainted, and that’s when he threw that out at me. It was very early. “You know, there’s this idea floating about. Just wanted to let you know and ask you what you thought about it.” I thought it was a beautiful idea. But I had three concerns I expressed in that office that day. They were immediate and clear to me.
My primary concern was that I was wondering how George [Takei] would feel, because he’s a gay actor that played a straight part and crafted a straight character. I didn’t want him to feel that we had reduced him to his sexuality by sort of borrowing this bit, if you will, from his life. You know? And his opinion was important to me, and I would have rather had him support the decision than not, so I wanted to reach out to him. I was concerned also that there might be Asian-American backlash. There has been this feminization of Asian men, so I thought this might be seen as continuing that lineage, which I disagree with personally, but I brought it up. I was also concerned, scientifically speaking [laughs], that we’re in an alternate universe but I’m assuming that Sulu is the same genetic Sulu in both timelines, and I thought we might be implying that sexual orientation was a choice. Does this sound super overthought?
Those are some decent, thoroughly considered concerns, that he obviously thought through as much as he and Pegg and the rest needed to to feel confident in their decision. Because at the end of the day, it’s not him, or Takei, or just Pegg or Lin making the call. But the discussion itself, that started among them, and has been brought to all of us, is crucial.
Okay, now go read about how John Cho is constantly being given weed by strangers and lust over your very good choices.
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