James Hong Really Is Everything, Everywhere, All at Once
I would like to ask about some of the roles for which you might be most recognized, like the role of maitre d’ in classic films. Seinfeld episode “Chinese Restaurant.” Is everyone screaming? Seinfeld to you when you’re out in public?
Even my dentist. In a way, it’s a rib script; you don’t know where the breakouts are. For example, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) said, “We really want a table” and threw $5 on my table as a tip. I do not know what to do. Why didn’t this boss apply that trick? So, instinctively, I turned the page of my reservation for $5. That was a surprise. The situation evolved because of what I knew to do as a comedian. Whether it is Seinfeld, Big trouble in small China, or even Blade Runner, you must know what style they created. You have to investigate all those aspects.
Japanese General, Planes!
Here’s another example of how to take a cliché role and make it your own. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of sitting next to someone who’s been boisterous and you wish you could just scream, “Why don’t you shut up?” The more he talks, the more you want to kill yourself. That’s what happened to my poor character. [As an actor,] you have to understand from the nonsense.
Wealthy Passenger, “Amazing Race”, Taxi. I love the look you give Judd Hirsch when you realize he might have cheated on you, but you’ve paid him back the money you spent on him instead.
I’m playing a lucky tourist; I’m in America and enjoying it all. My character pulls out a bunch of money and says take it, and then it shows up to him, wait a minute, this guy is refusing money. I have never seen that before. In Hong Kong, they’ll definitely take that money. My character is amazed that there is a man in this world who would refuse a tip. In France, I went to the opera, and the doorman showed me my seat and I thanked him and he reached out his hand for a tip. I was socked; Has anyone heard of someone opening up asking for a tip? So I didn’t tip him. He was very excited.
Evelyn’s butler, Chinatown.
I will never forget that and Two Jakes which Jack Nicholson directed. I learned a lot from watching Jack Nicholson and [director] Roman Polanski together. How can you not? I admired his acting all this time back Easy driver. It was a great thrill and honor to work opposite him.
David Lo Pan, Big trouble in small China.
This is the movie with the most passionate fans. Again, it’s the same thing. How do you bring humanity to a super-criminal? That’s what I put in Lo Pan: He wants a wife.
Finally, what advice would you give the actors?
The only piece of advice I have is this: I came from Minnesota as a total stranger wanting to put my foot in the pavement, and I finally did after 70 years of hard, hard work. . If you believe in yourself and your talents, go ahead.
https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/05/james-hong-everything-everywhere-all-at-once-walk-of-fame James Hong Really Is Everything, Everywhere, All at Once