character breakdowns for clint eastwood's gran torino

UPDATE: There's a whole bunch of Gran Torino casting information available here. This might interest some you, as I've heard from several people who were interested in auditioning for this movie. Crazy colors aside, it appears to be some legit casting updates about open call auditions for the movie, from Hmong American actress Sandy'Ci Moua, who is serving as a casting assistant and consultant for Gran Torino.


Here's some news that surfaced early last month about Gran Torino, the new movie from Clint Eastwood... Based on character breakdowns, it's apparently a coming-of-age drama about the unlikely friendship that forms between an old, disgruntled Korean War vet (Eastwood, presumably), who cherishes his titular muscle car, and the troubled young Hmong teen who tries to steal the car to impress a street gang. Here are detailed descriptions of the characters:
Feature Film
Warner Brothers

Producer: Clint Eastwood, Rob Lorenz, Bill Gerber
Director: Clint Eastwood
[TAO VANG LOR] A 15-19 year old Hmong (Southeast Asian) boy, Tao is slight, with long hair and long lashes, but he is very good looking, like an Asian Johnny Depp. His father is dead, and he lives in the house next door to Walt, a house full of women who disrespect him because he has no inner strength and resilience. A boy who would rather be a bookworm and be left alone, he's pressured to join his cousin's street gang, and he's brutally humiliated when he tries to steal Walt's Gran Torino. Intent on making amends to Walt, who has been befriended by his sister Sue, Tao works for Walt around the house for two weeks - and in the process, earns a smidgen of respect from Walt for his stoicism. Very protective of his family, and desperately in need of a male role model, Tao is pleasantly surprised when his odd friend pays him back for his labor - by helping Tao get both a job and a girlfriend. When Sue is raped by a pack of Hmong punks, Tao wants to get revenge - but Walt decides to carry that burden himself alone. HMONG LANGUAGE SKILLS A PLUS... LEAD (6)

[SUE] Tao's younger sister, 15 - 19, Sue is smarter than her brother when it comes to social skills and emotional IQ. A charmer, expert at using her communication skills to build bridges, Sue is contemptuous of local gang recruiters, Spider and Smokie - but she views Walt with wary interest. All too aware that her brother could use a masculine influence in his life to teach him the basics, Sue gently nudges Walt and Tao together, hoping for the best, and quite pleased when Tao acquires both a father figure and a few much-needed callouses. But when the local gang decides to punish Walt for his aggressive insolence by kidnapping Sue and raping her, she fears that the two strong men in her life will die avenging her honor. HMONG LANGUAGE SKILLS A PLUS... LEAD (16)

[F Ashley and Josh. Treated with contempt by his father, who regards Mitch and his family as yuppie scum, Mitch returns the favor and then some, ducking his dad's rare calls and not realizing that when Walt asserts that everything at home is "fine," that he's a bald-faced liar. He shuts Walt out of his life completely after Walt refuses to go into a home...LEAD (1)

[PHONG] The grandmother of Tao and Sue, Phong speaks only in her native language of Hmong. Utterly contemptuous of Tao because he's bullied by the women in the house, Phong has an active, blistering hatred for Walt, the “stupid, hairy white man” who lives next door. A woman who chews betel juice and spits at Walt whenever he comes into view, Phong is outraged when Sue invites him to the house. Protective of her grandchildren in spite of her caustic manner (which precisely mirrors Walt's), she knows something is drastically wrong when Walt asks her to care for his ancient dog. MUST SPEAK HMONG...LEAD (9)

[SMOKIE] The 18 - 20 year old leader of a local gang of Hmong teenagers, Smokie intervenes when he sees Tao being bullied by some black kids, and tries to talk Tao into joining the gang. But Tao's initiation (stealing Walt's Gran Torino) is a botched disaster, and he's furious when Tao backs out of the gang. Believing he's being disrespected, Smokie is intent on punishing both Walt and Tao, and he begins a war of nerves that quickly escalates. When he opts to strafe Tao's home and rape his sister Sue, it's a declaration of war that Walt intends to answer alone...LEAD (14)

[VU] The mother of Tao and Sue, this 40s - 50s Asian woman speaks only in her native language of Hmong. She is profoundly grateful to Walt from intervening when her son is threatened by Smokie. MUST SPEAK HMONG... several scenes (27)

[KOR SHUE] This old Hmong man is a shaman, who only speaks in his native language of Hmong, and who asks to give a reading of Walt's character. His reading is painfully close to the bone. MUST SPEAK HMONG...1 speech & 1 line, 1 scene (49)

STORY LINE: Walt Kowalski is a widower, a grumpy, tough-minded, borderline-hateful, unhappy man who can't get along with either his kids or his neighbors, a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1972 Gran Torino he keeps in cherry condition. Drawn against his will into the lives of the Hmong family that lives next door to him, Walt grows increasingly fond of TAO and his sister SUE, and takes steps to protect them from the gangs that foul his neighborhood with their strutting presence...
Sounds pretty interesting, though it's obviously not Dirty Harry part 6. I'm generally a fan of Eastwood's work, but I am definitely a little wary about the "white man saves the Asians" situation that could occur here. What I am kind of excited about is the opportunity to see complex, full-fleshed Hmong American characters in a major Hollywood movie—when's the last time you saw that? Like, never. The film's still in pre-production, so keep an eye on this one... (Thanks, Lee.)

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