John Cho explained why Sulu’s partner is of Asian descent and reveals more about Sulu’s husband from a scene written but not filmed.
Cho himself wanted the character to be Asian. “Originally we weren’t even sure if the husband was going to be human,” he said. “When I thought about it, I wanted two things: I wanted the parents to look as traditional as possible. And because he was gay, the Asian and Asian thing would ironically be super radical.”
Part of Cho’s reasoning was that he “always felt it was harder being gay and Asian than any other combination. I thought the cultural stigma was the thickest on the Asian boys I knew. It would be appropriate that in the future it would look very much like what we tend to see in heterosexual families. It’s kind of inside baseball, but that was important to me.”
Producer Lindsey Weber wanted Doug Jung to take on the role of Sulu’s partner but Justin Lin thought that “there’s no way Doug’s going to do it.” He was right as Jung said, “No, I’m not doing it. I’m a writer.”
But the production found it difficult to find someone in Dubai who would take on the role of Sulu’s partner, so Jung stepped up to the plate.
Cho also spoke about an unfilmed scene that would have given fans more insight into the Sulu family dynamics, in an interview with TrekMovie. “There was a scene that is not in the film but was written which is very revealing,” he said, “where Sulu makes a confession to Uhura and says that his husband didn’t want to move out to Yorktown, which is this remote outpost, but he made that sacrifice for Sulu’s career. Sulu felt a very heavy sense of guilt about having made that move and now had inadvertently endangered is family, and then Uhura comforts him.”
In Star Trek 4, Cho hopes that they would “go further into [the story of Sulu and his family], too. You know, the conversation I talked about that’s not in the movie – That conversation. “I[Sulu] want to move to Yorktown, I want to chase this commission, come with me.’ ‘No I don’t want to go that far; I don’t want to take the kid out.’ That kind of scene would be great.”