Ke Huy Quan admits ‘American Born Chinese’ role ‘scared the hell’ out of him

Ke Huy Quan admits ‘American Born Chinese’ role ‘scared the hell’ out of himKe Huy Quan admits ‘American Born Chinese’ role ‘scared the hell’ out of him
via Disney Plus
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Ke Huy Quan recently admitted he initially passed on his role in the Disney+ original “American Born Chinese” but later had a change of heart after discussing the details with the creative team.
Speaking at a post-screening Q&A for the “American Born Chinese” premiere at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Sunday, Quan, 51, said the role of Freddy Wong scared him initially.
I remember when I first heard about this character when I was offered the role, it scared the hell out of me. In fact, I actually passed on it because I told our creative team that this is the type of portrayal that we do not want to see in 2023,” he said.
In “American Born Chinese,” Wong is an actor on “Beyond Repair,” a ‘90s sitcom series that is being rebooted.
During a New York Comic Con panel in October, series creator Kelvin Yu said he had to make some updates to the character for modern audiences. The character, known as Chin-Kee in Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel of the same title, appears as more of a caricature of an Asian stereotype prevalent in the media a few decades ago.
While the caricature part has been dropped for Quan’s Freddy Wong in the Disney+ series, he still has an exaggerated Asian accent.
Yu revealed Freddy Wong might become “the most important part” of the puzzle in the series, particularly for protagonist Jin Wang, played by Ben Wang. The series creator explained:

It struck me that this character could be in a TV setting by being reprocessed or reimagined as a racist character on a TV show from the late ’90s. And if you see Jin, he was watching TV. But more importantly than just the clip, we cut to Jin looking at his dad asleep. And so you’re juxtaposing the image you’re being fed of who he is to America at large with the reality of his dad who works all day and sacrifices so much for him. So those two things together is actually the point.

After discussions with his creative team, Quan said he had a change of heart about his role.

After having a creative conversation with them and knowing that, in later episodes, you will get to meet the actor who plays Freddy Wong and understand the struggles that he went through — and also what it means to have this type of stereotypical portrayal of Asians, and what is does to a normal kid like Jin Wang (Ben Wang) — to his own identity, to his own values and his sense of worth — I just thought it was interesting. I guess, in a lot of ways, they chose me because it’s like art imitating life.

American Born Chinese” is set to begin streaming on Disney+ on May 24.
The series will star Michelle Yeoh as Guanyin, Daniel Wu as Sun Wukong, Jimmy Liu as Wei-Chen, Yeo Yann Yann as Christine Wang, Chin Han as Simon Wang and Sydney Taylor as Amelia.
Other recurring stars include Oscar-nominated actor Stephanie Hsu, Ronnie Chieng, Jimmy O. Yang and James Hong.
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