gran torino actor talks about racism on the set

Remember Grand Torino? In the 2008 drama, Clint Eastwood stars as a crust, racist, old-but-still-badass war vet who befriends the Hmong family next door and protects them from neighborhood thugs. I wasn't a huge fan of the film for a lot of reasons, but I did appreciate that it attempted to put a spotlight on Hmong American characters.

One of those characters was played by Bee Vang. Here's a really interesting article the actor, who recently visited the Multicultural Center at UC Santa Barbara and discussed the truth of what happened behind the scenes of Gran Torino. And it doesn't sound like it was all that great: Gran Torino Actor Reveals Behind-the-Scenes Racism.
Vang, who played Thao in the film, said he and the other Hmong actors were treated unfairly. Eastwood would not allow them to tweak their lines (even though he claimed that he did allow them to when asked in interviews following the release of the movie) and would not give them any tips on character building.

The actors felt degraded when they were told to "make noise" by rambling words in their language. The Hmong actors were also left out by their fellow cast members who were white.

The cast members excluded them from cast events because they immediately assumed that Hmong actors were exactly like their character counterparts—unable to speak English clearly or to understand anything “American.”

Vang also mentioned that he was upset by the way the Hmongs were portrayed in the film. He did not want the Hmong community—his own community—to be seen in a negative light by the audience. He pointed out that tea ceremonies were not performed correctly, that some of their important political lines in the script were not subtitled into English, and that these inaccuracies led to misconceptions of the community.
This is pretty interesting information, and sadly, not very surprising. It's just too bad that it's coming out over two years after the film's release. But I'm guessing at the time, Vang wasn't too eager to talk shit about movie he had just starred in... alongside one of Hollywood's most esteemed actors. Still, I'm glad he's made a point of speaking out telling everyone how it all went down.

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