Tag Archives: daniel henney

BIG HERO 6

Jamie Chung And Daniel Henney Cast In Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6′

by JAMES S. KIM

No strangers to kicking butt, Jamie Chung and Daniel Henney have joined cast of Disney and Marvel’s upcoming animated action-comedy, Big Hero 6, which hits theaters Nov. 7. Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams unveiled the young superhero team yesterday.

Big Hero 6 is set in the fictional San Fransokyo, a metropolis where underground robot fights are all the rage. Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter), a 14-year-old robotics prodigy, and his robot Baymax (Scott Adsitt) must join forces with a group of inexperienced crime-fighting “techie heroes” when they uncover a dangerous plot.

BIG HERO 6

Chung voices GoGo Tomago, who is described as a “laconic Clint Eastwood type” who can take care of herself. An industrial engineering student, Go Go developed a bike with magnetic-levitation technology, which also made its way into her super-suit.

Henney voices Tadashi Hamada, the older brother of Hiro, who is heavily involved in the underground bot fights. Tadashi, fortunately, helps inspire Hiro to put his smarts to good use and gain admission to the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, where he meets a robot named Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsitt). Together, they join forces with the four others to complete the crucial mission.

The team includes Fred (T.J. Miller), a big sci-fi and comic book geek whose “Fredzilla” creature suit is a homage to Godzilla. Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) is a chemistry student who is a bit geeky, but her sweet personality, positive attitude, and smarts make her a valuable member of the team. Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) sports plasma-induced lasers that come out of his arms, but he’s very cautious about how to go about being a superhero-until he learns to embrace the crazy that comes with the job.

BIG HERO 6

BIG HERO 6

BIG HERO 6

BIG HERO 6

Images via USA Today

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Link Attack: LG’s Kid-Tracker, Daniel Henney’s Reality Show & North Korea’s Protest Of ‘The Interview’

What were reading right now.

South Korean electronics companies have found a new market: young kids. LG introduced the KizON, a device that lets parents keep track of where their child is and listen to what they are up to. Swell idea or the beginnings of a dystopian future?

Daniel Henney is part of a new travel reality series on South Korea’s Channel CGV. Maybe he’ll be coming to a town near you.

The third season of “Sullivan And Son” is underway on TBS. Here are some fun facts about its star Steve Byrne.

Where are the Asians in the Asian Republican Coalition? A liberal Korean writer wants to find out.

ESPN profiles the up and down career of Michelle Wie, who is off to a tough start at the British Open.

Though shows such as The O.C. may suggest otherwise, Orange County has the third-largest Asian American population in the nation.

After a disappointing World Cup campaign in Brazil, Hong Myung-bo quits as coach.

The North Korean government has filed a formal protest with the United Nations over The Interview, a film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco about a plot to kill Kim Jong-Un. Seth Rogen seems unfazed.

PHOTO: LG Electronics KizON Hello Kitty wristphone. Courtesy of LG Electronics.

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Why Does Every Blockbuster Have to Kill Off the Asian Guy?

He’s in Every Action Movie–But Not for Long: Meet the Expendable Asian Crewmember

From Godzilla to X-Men to Total Recall, why does every blockbuster need a single Asian guy to kill off?

by PAULA YOUNG LEE

Fans of the original Star Trek television series, which aired from 1966 to 1969, are familiar with the old trope of the expendable Asian crewmember. Every week, one or two unlucky marginal characters, wearing the red shirt of a Security Officer, would join a landing party that usually consisted of Captain James Kirk, First Officer Spock and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy from the starship USS Enterprise. The trio would beam down to the planet’s surface along with the Expendable Crewmember—who would promptly get killed off by a space monster/mysterious sentient cloud/primitive hostiles. The Expendable Crewmember became such a routine part of the storyline that it was spoofed on the animated television show Family Guy, and became a running joke in the 1999 film Galaxy Quest, in which Sam Rockwell’s character, “Crewman no. 6,” is a nervous wreck named Guy, so forgettable to everyone that even he knows he’s doomed to die.

As little kid, I found it a bit odd that the Klingons always missed Kirk and hit the guy in the red shirt standing next to him. And as I got older, I couldn’t help but notice two strange trends beginning to pop up in Hollywood summer blockbusters: 1) Random storylines would detour to someplace in Asia for no particularly good reason, and 2) One useless Asian character—only one—would show up and stick around just long enough to make a vague impression as a villain. Then he or she would die at the hands of the good (white) guys, who would then march off victoriously into the sunset.

Now, it has been pointed out to me that the business of killing off villains is an equal-opportunity plot device, and Asian people are not being singled out for horrible deaths. Which is true. It’s long been the case that Hollywood casts ethnic minorities as bad guys so their heads can be blasted off. In horror films, there is also the bimbo rule, which requires hot blondes to get killed off first. This is neither racist nor sexist (see no. 7 on this list, John Cho, hot blond), but the norm. The Expendable Asian Crewmember is different from the phenomenon known as the “Asian sidekick,” whose ranks include Cato in the Pink Panther film series from the ’60s and ’70s and remade in 2006; Kato in the Green Hornet television series from the ’60s, remade as a film in 2011; Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, 1984, remade and moved from California to China, 2010; and the mutant Yukio in The Wolverine, 2013. But the vast majority of blockbuster film franchises have no Asian characters in them at all. In general, both New York City and The Future are curiously free of Asians except for Maggie Q, whose time-traveling powers enable her to pop up briefly in Divergent, 2014. There are so few Asians in the galaxy inhabited by Star Wars that a hilarious blog, “You Offend Me You Offend My Family,” has scoured the entire franchise for signs of Asian life. The results were: one rebel officer, and a dubious claim that Admiral Ackbar, fearless cephalopod leader of the Rebellion, was “Asian-like.”

Which brings me to the 2013 Star Trek reboot, with Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhura and John Cho as Lt. Sulu, plus loads of “Asian-like” aliens, including Vulcans. When the most diverse cast in a Hollywood summer blockbuster happens to be based on a television show that debuted a half century ago, it’s better to be the Expendable (Asian) Crewmember than not be allowed on board at all. But I’m hoping it won’t be another 50 years before Mr. Sulu not only takes the helm, but gets his own ship—and can star in his own film.

Here is a mere sampling of the Expendable Asian Crewmembers I’ve spotted over the years:

X-Men 2: X-Men United, 2003. Yuriko. The perfectly coiffed, impeccably manicured and silent assistant to evil mastermind Stryker, Yuriko turns out to be a super-villain called Lady Deathstrike whose abilities closely parallel those possessed by the Wolverine. Wolverine kills her by injecting her with the rare metal adamantium in its liquid form.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand, 2006. Kid Omega. As the Mutant Brotherhood organizes against humans, Kid Omega becomes one of Magneto’s new recruits. Played by Ken Leung, he can project spikes out all over his body in the manner of an angry porcupine. He dies in a blast of psychokinetic energy unleashed by the super-mutant, Jean Grey/Phoenix.

Mission Impossible III, 2006. Zhen Lei. Played by Maggie Q, this femme fatale joins the “Impossible Mission Force,” experiences a staged death, and disappears from the story. The fact that she is Chinese does not explain why the action relocates to Shanghai as opposed to, say, Southern California, which is also inhabited by white heroes plus a few Chinese people eating noodles.

Live Free or Die Hard2007. Mai Lin. Once again played by Maggie Q, Mai Lin is a cyber-terrorist with nefarious plans that vaguely involve computer hacking. Bruce Willis blames her for the awful script and throws her down an elevator shaft.

The Dark Knight2008. Lau. Played by Chin Han, Lau is a mob accountant who hides the mob’s money and flees to Hong Kong for the express purpose of getting Batman to Asia for an extended tourist commercial involving many tall, sleek skyscrapers. Batman brings Lau back to the U.S., where he is killed by the Joker.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2009. Agent Zero. A mutant expert marksman, Agent Zero, played by ethnic Korean actor Daniel Henney, not only looks fine in a tailored black suit, he has better hair than Wolverine. After many tries, Wolverine finally succeeds in mussing his rival’s hair by downing his helicopter and blowing it up.

John Cho

Total Recall (remake), 2010. Bob McClane. Played by John Cho, better known as Lt. Sulu from the “Star Trek” reboot, Bob gets killed off when he stupidly asks secret agent Doug Quaid about his feelings. This taboo question prompts a police raid that results in everybody except Quaid getting shot.

Pacific Rim, 2013. My friend Minsoo Kang, who is an expert on the history of automatons, told me that not one but “two Chinese robot operators” show up and get crushed when monsters mash their robots. (They die at the same time and don’t have names, so I will count them as one.) Not only does this film have a female lead played by Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi, but it’s set in Hong Kong, which gets smashed by machine-monsters. This film didn’t do very well in the U.S. but did extremely well in Asia (e.g., China, Korea and Japan). As summed up by Forbes, Pacific Rim was “the rare English-language film in history to cross $400 million while barely crossing $100 million domestic.”

Red 2, 2013. Han Cho-Bai. He is an international assassin sent to kill retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses. Moses is played by Bruce Willis, so you know he doesn’t get killed off. Neither does Han Cho-Bai (played by Korean actor Lee Byung-Hun), because he’s a red herring who is really a disguised sidekick. Though I enjoyed the display of his martial arts skills, he’s got no business being in this film except to sell tickets. It made nearly twice as much in foreign receipts as it did in the U.S., and the bulk of those tickets were sold in Japan and South Korea.
 Could there be a theme developing here? Why, yes! And it leads directly to…

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Godzilla (remake), 2014. Dr. Serizawa. Played by the legendary Ken Watanabe, the Serizawa character appears in the 1954 version set in Japan, where he unexpectedly dies. Crucially, the original Godzilla hit U.S. theaters around the same time as the first wave of Asian immigrants, in the aftermath of WWII and the Korean War. Sixty years later, the newer, sexier version of the giant lizard suggests that Godzilla is a strong, charismatic, assimilated Asian-American who wants his own starring role in a summer blockbuster without so much goofy metrosexual makeup. And just as some of the funniest Internet memes focus on the giant lizard’s new Hollywood look, it’s not a done deal that Serizawa’s character gets killed off this time around, even if he is the only Asian character with a name, thus adhering to the one-Asian rule. I guess you could call that progress.

Paula Young Lee’s most recent books are Deer Hunting in Paris: A Memoir of God, Guns, and Game Meat and Game: A Global History, both published in 2013. This article originally appeared in Salon.

 

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March Cover Story: Daniel Henney Is Ready For His Hollywood Close-Up

Leading Man

Actor Daniel Henney, who first shot to fame in Korea in the hit drama My Lovely Sam Soon, is now ready for his Hollywood close-up.

story by ADA TSENG
photographs by MITCHELL NGUYEN MCCORMACK/Corbis | styling: JULIET VO grooming: ERICA SAUER @ The Wall Group | stylist’s assistants: LAURYN STONE and TESS OAKLAND

For the past eight years, Korean American actor Daniel Henney has been juggling roles on both sides of the Pacific. Adored as a heartthrob in Korean dramas and films, Henney shot to stardom after playing Dr. Henry Kim in the drama My Lovely Sam Soon, and soon after that, became a household name in Korea, with leading man roles on the small and big screens, as well as high-profile ad campaigns, like the 2005 one for the South Korean fashion brand Bean Pole International that co-starred Gwyneth Paltrow.

The Michigan-born Henney had decided to relocate to Korea in the first place because he wasn’t getting the acting opportunities he wanted in the U.S. But when he got to Seoul, he realized he had a lot to learn before he could even be competitive in Hollywood. Now that he has fame and clout in Asia, many of Henney’s American fans, who have caught glimpses of him on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the recent Schwarzenegger flick The Last Stand or even the short-lived CBS series Three Rivers, have wondered when the actor might be coming home to America for good.

Well, the answer is: he’s home. This doesn’t mean he’s given up his jet-setting lifestyle—his next two films include The Negotiator, an action film in Korea, and F*** I’m Pregnant, a romantic comedy in China—but he has a place in Los Angeles and is preparing for the right opportunity to break into the U.S. market.

“It’s very different for me [in the States] than it is in Asia,” Henney says. “In Asia, I get [offered] a lot of great leading roles, whereas here, I get a few, but I’m not quite where I want to be yet.”

You might say a little Asian American indie film called Shanghai Calling came along at exactly the right time. In Shanghai Calling, Henney plays Sam Chao, a Chinese American attorney who is transferred from the Manhattan office to Shanghai against his will and complies only because he wants to make partner. He—and everyone else—assumes he’ll be a natural working in China because of his heritage, when in reality, he’s less “Chinese” than any of the Caucasian expats he meets abroad. His arrogant assumptions often get him into trouble, and it takes some humility (and help from the locals) to dig himself out of a potentially career-ruining mess.

Vince shirt and pants, Generic Man shoes.

The film, which was released at select theaters in the U.S. last month, earned a slew of awards at film festivals last year, including a Best Actor nod for Henney at the Newport Beach (Calif.) Film Festival. It was a confidence booster for the actor, and he is now much choosier about the American roles that he takes. Although he joined the CBS hit show Hawaii Five-0 for a guest spot in late 2012 (on one of the series’ highest-rated episodes) and has been asked to come back for their season finale, he is hesitant.

“It was a lot of fun,” he says, of the tattooed ex-con character he played, “and I was excited that the ratings were good when I was on. But I just don’t want to go out in this crazy fight scene where I get killed, you know?”

When it comes to roles in his future, he’s thinking bigger, deeper, richer. What Henney wants now is to be a leading man in Hollywood. He is not naive to the fact that, even though there are many more Asian American male actors getting meatier roles than in previous decades, they aren’t necessarily considered “leading men” just yet. He’s careful to not assume he will be the first, but is also fully aware that he certainly could be.

While Henney has had top billing in Korea for many years, Shanghai Calling is not only his first lead in an English-language film, it’s also his first comedic role.

“I’m going to do this scene, but you have to reel me back if I go too far,” Henney recalls telling director Daniel Hsia.  “Remember, [I have to be an] asshole, but [a] likable asshole.”

While filming the movie, Henney says he learned there’s no such thing as a sense of humor, but senses of humor. “I have a very dry, sarcastic sense of humor,” he explains. “I get that from my father. A lot of people don’t get my jokes. If someone asks me, ‘How was your morning?’ I might say, ‘It sucks. I ran over my dog this morning, had to take her to the hospital before I came in.’” He laughs. “And it’s not even funny. It’s really not funny. But it’s funny to me.”

Sarar suit, shirt and tie, Mezlan shoes.

Hsia’s humor is more straightforward, according to Henney, as Hsia is a seasoned television comedy writer who knows how to deliver an effective punch line or sight gag.  Therefore, they had to find a way to merge their two styles.

“I think it worked out really well,” says Henney, “Daniel [Hsia] came up with the scenes, like the one with the tea cup,” referring to a perfectly-timed joke where Sam awkwardly slurps up some tea leaves at a business meeting and tries to play it cool. “That’s all Daniel. But I was the one that came up with the amount of asshole that Sam is.”

Though he doesn’t possess Sam’s cocky self-entitlement, Henney says he identified a great deal with Sam’s character.  Having been an expat in Korea for so many years, he understood what it was like to be plopped in the middle of a culture you don’t understand. However, Henney’s experience was likely magnified because his own fish-out-of-water story transpired with the entire nation watching.

Martin Chung, Henney’s friend and longtime manager, had a front row seat to Henney’s overnight rise to fame, having known the actor since his modeling days in Asia.

Around 2005, Henney landed an Olympus camera ad opposite Gianna Jun (Jun Ji-hyun), a Korean actress well-known for her roles in My Sassy Girl and Il Mare. During the shoot, her manager told Henney about a TV show that was casting, and he set up an impromptu meeting with the casting director and director of My Lovely Sam Soon.

The role of Dr. Henry Kim, the dashing American surgeon, was small at this point—Henney still couldn’t speak Korean, so how prominent could an English-speaking role in a Korean drama be?—so he packed one suitcase, thinking he’d stay for a couple months. However, that changed once Henney was introduced to Korean drama fans.

“Literally, right after the episode aired, my phone started ringing,” remembers Chung. “They were like, ‘Who is this guy?’ Magazines, reporters, commercial clients all started calling. I thought, ‘What the heck is going on?’”

“It was pretty surreal,” says Henney. “But I never took it seriously because I didn’t realize the clout or the power of the Korean drama. As a foreigner, I thought that the quality was pretty bad. At that time, it was shot on tape. Sam Soon was one of the first dramas filmed on HD film, which was brand new at the time.”

The writers started adding scenes for Henney to capitalize on the newfound fan flurry surrounding him, but imagine being given English lines that were written by native Korean speakers. In addition to his acting duties, Henney would often stay up nights rewriting the awkwardly phrased dialogue.

“After the 14th episode, I started to realize that 40 percent of the country was watching [My Lovely Sam Soon],” says Henney. “I couldn’t go anywhere without being recognized.  People were freaking out, and it kept getting bigger and bigger, to the point where I was meeting the president. One day, I was meeting the president, and next, I was flying to London to work with Gwyneth Paltrow.”

This was an excerpt of the cover story from the March 2013 issue of KoreAm.

To read the rest of Daniel’s story and see the rest of his amazing photo spread, purchase a single issue copy of the March issue, by clicking the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).