Asian actor to play new James Bond?

11 May 2016 / 5 months 2 weeks ago

​10 May 2016

John Cho will be cast as the new James Bond, and play Ethan Hunt in the movie series Mission Impossible.

Sounds impossible?

Except it has, in Twittersphere at least, where the hashtag '#StarringJohnCho' is trending.

It all started when a digital strategist, William Yu, created a website to highlight the whitewashing of Asian characters played by white actors in Hollywood.

"Support #StarringJohnCho by sharing the hashtag and help ignite this necessary conversation," the 28-year-old wrote on the website.

A common explanation about Hollywood's whitewashing is the lack of Asian movie stars, and fears that casting an Asian unknown would hurt box office receipts.

"There aren't any Asian movie stars," American screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (Oscar-winning writer of The Social Network, Steve Jobs, and The Newsroom) explained in a leaked email on why an Asian American was not cast as the Asian protagonist lead in the movie "Flash Boys".

"Today, only 1 per cent of lead roles go to Asians. But if studies show that films with diverse casts result in higher box office numbers and higher returns on investments for film companies, why doesn't Hollywood cast lead actors to reflect this fact?" William Yu, 28, wrote on the website.

"But a future is coming when an Asian-American actor is the next tent pole star. #StarringJohnCho creates a reality that brings that vision of tomorrow's Hollywood to today."

On Twittersphere, reactions to #StarringJohnCho have been favourable, with many saying that they would see movies that will star John Cho.

While the website stated that John Cho is not affiliated with #StarringJohnCho, what does the actor - who has starred in Harold & Kumar, Star Trek, and NBC's Selfie - think about the movement?

There are no comments by the Korean-American actor yet, but tellingly, he has followed the website's Twitter Account @StarringJohnCho. He also tweeted a New York Times article on April 24 about 'Why Won't Hollywood Cast Asian Actors?'.

Many things in the US have changed, such as segregation and emancipation, but Hollywood's whitewashing of Asian characters has been happening for a long time, and looks set to stay.

Recent Hollywood movies that have been whitewashed include Ghost in the Shell (Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi), Aloha (Emma Stone as Alison Ng), 21 (Jim Sturgess as Jeff Ma), and Doctor Strange (Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One).

In 1944, actress Aline MacMahon was nominated for an Oscar for portraying a Chinese in the movie Dragon Seed, while actress Linda Hunt won an Oscar in 1982 for playing a Chinese man in the movie A Year of Living Dangerously, US website Vox cited as examples.

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Rather, where in the world are the Asian movie stars?

Well, the last time we checked, there are at least 4 billion Asians in the world.

See the alternate movie photos that feature John Cho in the gallery below. 

John Cho
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