CATEGORIES Movie NewsSay what you will about the modern "Star Trek" movie franchise, but one aspect that can't be denied is how well they've re-cast the iconic roles. One that stands out in particular is John Cho as Sulu (originally played by George Takei). Even though we know Cho can play funny -- as evidenced by his performances in the "Harold & Kumar" movies -- he can also play serious, and he takes on Sulu with the same rigid, straight-faced look as his predecessor.
Sulu has a more commanding role in the second film of this franchise, "Star Trek Into Darkness." Among other things, we see him take control of the Enterprise for the first time - and deliver some pretty classic one-liners.
Moviefone Canada caught up with Cho on a recent press trip to Toronto, where he talked about his relationship with Takei, if he loved "Trek" growing up, and if he took anything from set (of course he did).
Moviefone: You actually get to sit in the Captain's chair in "Into Darkness." How was that for you? John Cho: It was pretty cool! It feels good sitting in the chair -- it feels just right. It fits my ass. [Laughs] Truly, it's not very comfortable, but other than that, I have no complaints.
Did anyone ever give you any trouble about sitting in the Captain's chair? We were always trying to, ever since the first movie ... everyone is always jostling for the chair. I think it's a feng shui thing, it's in such a great place. Especially people who don't have chairs. [Laughs] Poor Karl [Urban], he doesn't have a chair. We broke it, it did break. I can't recall who did it.
I apologize for asking, because I'm sure you've been asked a million times, but ... I'm a Gemini. [Laughs]
... what's your relationship with George Takei, and what does he think about your portrayal of Sulu? George has been very complimentary to my face -- and behind my back. He's on the board of a theatre company I started acting in Los Angeles called East West Players. I don't remember when I was formally introduced to him, but we've been in the same places a lot and he's a community leader. To get validation from him was a big deal, not only because he played Sulu, but also because he's an outspoken Asian-American leader. That's how I saw him.
Can you do his voice? [Lowers voice] Not quite. It's hard. Is his biology different? His voice is weirdly deep. [Laughs]
Were you a big "Star Trek" fan before going into this? Not really. I grew up thinking the look was cheesy, in terms of the original series. Although, in many ways, I did like it. I thought they were thoughtful, and in the best way. It's science-fiction at its best -- sci-fi can talk about things that are difficult to talk about in real life. I think this movie does the same, especially about the state of the world as it is now. Whatever issue was current [on that original series], they could present it in a controlled way that allowed you to meditate on it. As a boy, I loved that there was an Asian guy on television that was badass, who was a helmsman on a spaceship.
What is it like dealing with "Star Trek" fans now that you're part of this franchise? I have found "Star Trek" fans to be warm. I was fearful of them before we finished the last one, because I didn't want to get things wrong. They have been very generous and complimentary, but they're protective -- like any of us can be -- of the show. They want to make sure that we love it as much as they do. They want respect for it. It's not so much about "getting it right" as it is about having the right the attitude when you approach it.
Did you all feel closer as a cast for this second movie? Was there more cohesion? It was, and we did. We felt closer to J.J. [Abrams], too. He's such a larger-than-life kind of persona. For me, I was intimidated and I almost felt at a distance at first because of my admiration for him. But this time around I felt more comfortable and closer to him; it feels like all of us did. We're friends off-set, so I hope we carried some of that in, and it shows on the screen.
Did you take anything from set? I took Sulu's Starfleet insignia. That's it. [Smiles]
"Star Trek Into Darkness" opens in theatres on May 16.