Okay, so the Korean guy is not playing Kato in The Green Hornet movie. Don't know how it got started, but according to studio sources, that rumor is flat-out false. And it's just as well. The more I learn about this project, which has been a long time coming, the more I become intrigued... and convinced that this is the role has to be played by a top-notch Asian American actor.
I've been hearing from several people who are familiar with writer/star Seth Rogen's take on the project, as well as Asian American actors who have read for the role of Kato, and what I'm led to believe is that this is a damn good character, and a fantastic opportunity for an Asian American actor.
Word on the street is, this is a great script. Kato isn't the sidekick -- he's the equal partner in a buddy action comedy. More than that, he's the real hero behind duo, the better half in every way. Here's the perspective of one actor who auditioned for the role:
With all this talk of casting a South Korean (which I'm glad is incorrect), me and my friends (who also happen to be Asian American actors) feel this is a major crossroads for Asian Americans in Hollywood. The role of Kato is a huge breakout role, which is made all the more breakout due to the excellent script. Upon reading the sides for Kato, it's easy to see that the role of Kato is one of the most developed and layered Asian roles EVER to come out of Hollywood.There you have it. I've taken a look at the sides, and from the handful of pages that I've read, I'm inclined to agree -- Kato is an awesome character. And with the right actor, it has the potential to be a true breakthrough Hollywood role for Asian Americans.
Seth Rogen was smart to make a play on the backstory of the The Green Hornet, and highlight the fact that Bruce Lee was the real hero of the series. Van Williams as Brit Reid was merely a glory hogging womanizer, and Bruce Lee as Kato was the true talent. The new Green Hornet, then becomes something of a satire of the original series and gives Asian Americans and the model minority element its due, by revealing that Kato is really the unsung hero of the duo, with Seth Rogen playing The Green Hornet something of a pompous ass. But the essence of the film comes from the bro-mance dynamic of the two, and essentially fashions the story as a Superbad of superhero movies.
When you read the script, it's clearly meant for an actor with American sensibilities with a familiarity of American humor. Which is why all this talk of bringing in a foreign import as Kato is quite upsetting. A foreign born actor with limited English skills would quite certainly fail at the role, especially when matched with the improv-heavy Seth Rogen. And while we understand the need for big box office appeal, more than anything we, as actors, and as Asian Americans, want to see the role of Kato done with justice, as it has the potential to break barriers.
All we really care about is seeing the right person be selected as Kato, because in the end, if that goes well, we ALL win.
So... sorry, Kwon Sang-woo. You might have one hell of a physique, but you're not the right guy for this role. There are plenty of Asian stars with international appeal and all that, but I get the feeling it would work out best for everyone if English-language proficiency wasn't a major hurdle for whoever gets this role. Of course, I'm not the guy making decisions at Sony.
This just makes me a hundred times more anxious to find out who's ultimately getting the role of Kato. We should be finding out soon, right? Filming is set to begin in the fall, and the movie's scheduled to be released next summer. Give us our Kato!