John Cho aims to break Asian-American typecasting with his role in Selfie
Popular Hollywood actor John Cho will star as the romantic lead in the upcoming ABC series Selfie, and he sees the role as a breakthrough for Asian actors in Hollywood.
Cho, who is known for his roles in films like Star Trek and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, will play the role of Henry, a marketing expert who decides to help "rebrand" Eliza Dooley, a young woman obsessed with becoming famous on social media. The series is a modern interpretation of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, and Karen Gillan (from Doctor Who and the recent Guardians of the Galaxy) will costar in the role of Eliza.
In an interview about the role, the 42-year-old actor called his casting "revolutionary," explaining, “Asians narratively in shows are insignificant. They’re the cop, or the waitress, or whatever it is. You see them in the background. So to be in this position . . . is a bit of a landmark." If the series explores a romance between Eliza and Henry, it would be the first time that an Asian actor has played the primary romantic lead on network television. Cho, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, said that his usual offers are for roles much different than this one.
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Henry's casting almost went in a much more conventional direction, as the producers initially envisioned Henry as a British man. Once they decided to think outside of the traditional Henry Higgins character, however, they found that Cho was a good fit for the role. Hopefully this series will broaden casting opportunities beyond action roles or comedic sidekicks for other Asian actors in Hollywood. The series Selfie premieres on ABC on September 30, though the pilot is already available online.