When John Cho plays young Sulu in Star Trek, everyone knows him as Harold or the MILF guy. When George Takei played Sulu originally, it was quite a unique experience for young Cho to see.
John Cho is Sulu
“Although I wasn’t a Trekkie, my primary connection to the show was just being excited about George Takei being on television,” Cho said. “[I remember] just yelling across the house, ‘There’s an Asian guy on TV! There’s an Asian guy on TV! Come quick! Come quick! He may disappear! He may disappear! Hurry up! Come now!’”
By the time the role came around to him, Asians in space were old hat. “It was just a dream come true for me. What I did in this movie, flying a spaceship and having a sword fight, is exactly what my young brother and I would do for hours and hours as children, so it’s weird to get paid to do that. We received no payment, oddly enough, as children, to do that.”
It wasn’t all imaginary CGI either. “You’d be surprised at how much set there was for us to work with. The Enterprise is pretty much as you see it. That’s what we saw every day. A lot of stuff was shot on location that you might not think was, like the engine room was at the Budweiser plant. So, there was a lot less CGI than there could have been.”
With two trademark characters already, Cho is unphased by the legacy of Sulu that may follow him after Trek. “I’m not sure that I’ve really even thought that much about it. I have, in the sense that I’ve decided, ‘Let’s be surprised by what comes.’ Who knows what it’s really going to be like. They’ve been caricatured so much, it’s hard to know what the experience will be like. My decision has been just to enjoy myself and be surprised, step by step.”