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Beauty Break: John Cho

To celebrate another John Cho leading man gig (FINALLY!) in Searching, due in theaters tomorrow, I thought we'd do a "posterized". But then I quickly discovered that though he's made more than 40 movies (which is a lot of posters to collect considering his face is only on a few of them!). The first time I personally remember seeing him was in Justin Lin's Asian-American high school crime movie Better Luck Tomorrow (2002) but Cho wasn't famous until Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) opened. Sadly, he's barely in many of the movies on his filmography, often shoved to the periphery, or used sparingly, the filmmaking teams trusting in his considerable charisma to make small roles pop. Even the new Star Trek films don't really make as much of his Sulu as they could. So today a Beauty Break for this actor Hollywood hasn't quite done right by. 

Here's some Cho for your eye candy pleasure...




Perhaps the success of Crazy Rich Asians will make Hollywood executives realize that they already have a plethora of talented 'name' Asian-American or English speaking actors that they're totally underusing. Here's a partial list of undercast Asian hunks that AREN'T in Crazy Rich Asians or aren't named Dev Patel or Riz Ahmed (the two that seem to be doing really well at the moment, both of them British and South Asian) who Hollywood should totally cast in things (in no particular order):

  • Hayden Szeto (The Edge of Seventeen, Truth or Dare)
  • Ki Hong Lee (The Maze Runner, Kimmy Schmidt
  • Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-O)
  • Lewis Tan (Iron Fist, Into the Badlands)
  • Daniel Wu (Into the Badlands)
  • Leonardo Nam (Westworld, The Fast and the Furious)
  • Will Yun Lee (The Good Doctor)
  • Godfrey Gao (The Mortal Instruments, The Jade Pendant)
  • Raza Jaffrey (Homeland, Lost in Space)
  • Rick Yune (Prison Break, Marco Polo)
  • Steven Yeun (Burning, The Walking Dead)

Pair that deep talent pool (the women are even more plentiful) with all the not-yet-famous talent waiting to catch a break and think of the wonderment ahead of us if casting loosens up! 

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Reader Comments (16)

Dev Patel or Riz Ahmed

Hollywood / America does not see them as Asian. Racial classification in America is very crude and rudimentary.

August 23, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Fiercely underrated, and makes every small role count. As an Asian man, I feel seen every time he makes his presence felt in movies. Maybe CRA be the gamechanger for all us.

August 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIan

YES YES YES John Cho. Just saw a movie yesterday and for the first 30 minutes I had NO IDEA what prompted me to get this DVD from Netflix. Two minutes later suddenly John Cho appears in a suit and mystery solved.

August 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

/3rtful -- maybe Hollywood doesn't view them quite that way but they dont think of them as white. i'm not sure what your point is with 'very crude' because they are Asian men and identify as such. Riz Ahmed wrote about his racial identity in the book "The Good Immigrant" I thought this article about "political blackness" in Britain and Ahmed's identity was fascinating. He says in his youth they embraced the term

‘Paki,’ a label we wore with swagger in the Brit-Asian youth and gang culture of the 1990s.

August 23, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Oh, Kumar is very good-looking. Anyone saw that deleted scene from the second film of him singing in the shower? It is hilarious. They never should've cut that scene from the film.

August 23, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

@Nathaniel R

I know they're not viewed as white. Them being denied Asian-status from the domestic racial gatekeepers is why they're able to work more than their counterparts whose Asian status stateside limits them in the imagination of those who create content.

August 23, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I think I get 3rtful. Hollywood is harsher to East-Asians, of all people.

It's kind of difficult event to say Asian, because a person who is born in Yekaterinburg, Russia, for example, is Asian and Caucasian, and, as such, would not have such a hard time like an East-Asian would.

August 23, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Well said: John Cho is one of those actors that can make something out of even the smallest parts, which is difficult to pull off.

I'd also like to add the name Bobby Lee to your list; he's someone who's manic energy never fails to entertain and I wished he was cast more in big comedies.

August 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

cal -- the US census at least defines Asian like so "people having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent (for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam)" So Russia isn't included even it borders Asia and shares the continent.

but the point of this post was to celebrate John Cho getting another leading role and that in Hollywood up till now Asian leads have been rare.

August 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Hayden Szeto was so damn adorable and charming in The Edge of Seventeen.

August 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Chris -- right? he should have a ton of roles lined up from that movie.

August 23, 2018 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Riz and Dev aren’t put into the same “Asian” category by America/American execs. It’s a pretty common and obvious point. Are you having a brain fart or being disingenuous?

August 24, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPing

I think that when you look at a Korean person, you know that this person is Asian. If I didn't know his name or his origin, I could say, hey, maybe this guy is Venezuelan, or maybe Moroccan. This prejudice against Asians in Hollywood is harsher to East-Asians, that was my point.

But it's nice that movies like Crazy Rich Asians are going to change that, I hope.

My favorite East-Asian leading actor now: Hiroshi Abe. I hope you all have seen his terrific, heart-felt and soulful performance in Hirokazu Koreeda's After the Storm. You need to see it NOW if you haven't.

August 24, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I was referring to Riz Ahmed in the person above as a person whose ethnicity is not immediately clear.

August 24, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I still miss Selfie...

August 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMark

When Nathaniel quoted the US Census I rolled my eyes, lol.

This site is great, but woke it is not.

August 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

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