John Cho: “People don’t move around thinking we’re this race or this colour”

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Hollywood actor John Cho has been a mainstay on Hollywood for over two decades now. He is fondly famous the world over for playing the role of Harold in ‘Harold and Kumar go to White Castle’.

In his career he has broken many barriers by becoming the first Asian-American to play the lead in a TV series (rom com) – ‘Selfie’ and he was also the first Asian American actor to lead a mainstream Hollywood thriller – ‘Searching’.

He has also essayed prominent and popular roles in the ‘American Pie’, ‘Star Trek’ as well as the ‘Harold and Kumar’ movie franchises.

He will be soon seen in the dramedy feature, ‘Don’t Make Me Go’, which is said to be a heartwarming story of the bond shared by a father and daughter.

John Cho and his on-screen daughter, actor Mia Isaac had a chat with Hindustan Times about their upcoming movie, how they bonded with each other off camera and importantly how they think the depiction and representation of race has changed in Hollywood these last few years.

‘Don’t Make Me Go’ follows the story of Max, played by John Cho who suffers from a terminal disease and decides to take a long cross country road trip with his young teenage daughter, played by Mia. The purpose of the trip is to reunite Mia with her estranged mother.

Since the movie is about a road trip, a large portion of it is shot with the two lead actors in the car and hence the movie requires that the father daughter have good chemistry.

As reported by HT, speaking about how the two of them bonded, actor Mia said, “The audition process and the rehearsals were all initially virtual. So, it was proof that there was really something special that we were able to connect over Zoom, Skype and things like that. When I got to New Zealand, I was in a foreign country and I had no idea what I was doing so I was glad that I at least knew John.”

While the movie is about a serios issue and is an emotional journey as well, it also comes with a good dose of comedy as well. But for actor John Cho, it was not difficult to balance between the drama and the humour.

Speaking about it he said, “It’s not like the other road trip I did– Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, but it’s really just about following the script. It was obvious when we needed to be funny and obvious when we didn’t need to be. Occasionally, we’d find humour in a moment that wasn’t particularly scripted. It’s not something you necessarily map out.”

The movie does not talk or address race in any way but the lead cast of the movie is an Asian-American man and his daughter is played by a half Asian-half African American girl, so in that sense the movie is making a statement about representation.

Actress Mia said that she loved this. “What I also love about this movie is that it’s not something that has to be explained that I am his daughter. Growing up, it was hard with my mom and people not automatically knowing I was her daughter because I didn’t quite look like her. I think it’s really cool that it’s normalized in a way that I get to be John’s daughter and it doesn’t have to be explained,” she said.

John Cho who has been around longer has actually seen the change in narrative when it comes to people of colour and their representation in Hollywood. So, he feels the movie’s perspective of representation is actually a big step.

Speaking about it, John said, “Especially in American cinema, when people of colour are on screen, there is always a lot of justification as to why they’re on screen. That kind of explanation doesn’t always feel natural. This was a way we thought would be seen as an example of looking at how it’s a part of their lives but that’s not the way they live. People don’t move around thinking we are this race or this colour. That’s now how people regard themselves.” ‘Don’t Make Me Go’ is all set to release on Amazon Prime Video, this Friday, 15 July 2022.

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