Gene Roddenberry wasn’t the only person who had issues with a scene in Star Trek III The Search for Spock
George Takei’s character, Sulu, had a bit more to do in Star Trek III The Search for Spock, and it gave the actor an opportunity to show fans more of what he could bring to the future films. But there was one particular scene in this movie that, according to his revelation in Star Trek Movie Memories, he didn’t get, and he wasn’t so sure the fans would, either.
When Sulu and Kirk break Dr. McCoy out of the hospital in order to take him back to Vulcan, Sulu greets the guard on duty, asking him a very general question to which the guard responds “don’t get smart with me, Tiny.” And Takei admits he didn’t get the scene and that he never imagined Sulu as tiny. Furthermore, he didn’t believe the fans would stand for him being called tiny.
Producer Harve Bennett saw things differently as he explained that the man talking to Sulu was a Viking. Essentially, to him, anyone would be considered tiny, but Takei still didn’t buy it. He was very adamant that his character should not be referred to in such a manner.
“I know how the fans see Sulu. They don’t see Sulu as tiny—he’s a hero and he mustn’t be referred to as tiny.”
Bennett agreed to film the scene with and without the word. But Takei knew which scene Bennett would choose to use, and he continued to argue his case.
“I know which one you’re going to use, and believe me, in a million years, you’re not going to want to use that one with ‘Tiny,’ it will fall flat on its face, the fans will not like it, but all right, we’ll shoot it.”
Takei saw the film with an audience and was amazed at the response to this particular scene. After Sulu flipped the guard and said “Don’t call me Tiny,” the crowd cheered. At that point, Takei realized his was wrong about his character, and he called Bennett afterwards.
“Hello, Harve, you know what I’m doing right now? I’m eating crow, and it tastes delicious.”
He was right, though. None of us Star Trek fans saw Sulu as Tiny. We just instantly got the joke when we saw the scene. But George Takei’s defense of his character was as admirable as his apology to Bennett.