“[These films] have a really emotional impact on people’s lives,” he says. “Having met fans on the street, I have been overwhelmed by how wide the scope of Star Trek nation is. It’s unbelievable -- the generations it crosses, the demographics. I’m glad I wasn’t fully aware [before taking the role], because it would have paralyzed me.”

Still, the way Cho tells it, nothing could have scared him away from the chance to honor the original man behind Sulu, George Takei, who was an inspiration to the Korea native when he was growing up. “It was really heartening for an Asian-American kid to see [Takei, who is Japanese- American,] playing a guy who didn’t have an accent, who was the helmsman of the spaceship,” Cho says. “It was a very unique thing to see on-screen back then.” The admiration between the two actors is mutual: At their first meeting, Takei was confident enough in Cho to not give him any Trek-specific advice. (Though, Cho admits, he would have gladly taken the pointers.)

The film originally was set for a December 2008 release but was pushed back to try and build more international buzz. Cho laments that he couldn’t see the movie on Christmas Day with his brother -- they’ve had a Christmas matinee tradition since their youth -- but he’s nevertheless tickled by the idea of starring in a true summer blockbuster and even goes so far as to say he “welcomes being typecast” as a go-to sci-fi guy if it means more opportunities for his still-growing career. And if he were to get stuck playing Sulu for the rest of his life, he wouldn’t mind that, either -- as long as he had his trusty cast mates by his side. Cho says he’s lucked out with his Enterprise cohorts, a group of actors he insists on calling “the crew.”

“There was a point where I looked around at my crewmates and realized we were getting really close,” he says. “It was coming from a sense that we were the only ones who would experience this ride. Only we would know what it is like to be in Star Trek at this particular time.”

All in all, Cho is simply “enjoying the ride” that Star Trek has offered him. And well he should -- technically, as Sulu, he’s helming it.