‘Everything’ star James Hong at 94: ‘This is my chance’
James Hong has been in everything, everywhere, but not all at once.
The 94-year-old has appeared in more than 650 film projects over the course of his eight-decade career, and he’s not about to slow down.
“I would like to do some other movies because this is my chance,” he told the Guardian in a recent profile about his decision to never retire from Hollywood. “I’ve waited all these years to do projects and now people are going to support me.”
The “Everything Everywhere All at Once” icon began his film career in the 1950s, and his first major movie was “Soldier of Fortune” starring Clark Gable.
Hong said it’s “almost a miracle” that after years in the industry he’s been cast in a movie as big as “Everything Everywhere”. “I never dreamed that would happen,” he gushed.
The adventure comedy is winding down in 2023 awards season, earning 11 Oscar nominations and winning two Golden Globe Awards.
The prolific Asian-American actor plays Gong Gong in the film, the father of Michelle Yeoh’s character, Evelyn Quan Wang.
The ‘Blade Runner’ star also spoke about how Asian performers had to work their way through the entertainment industry, as Tinseltown was often filled with yellowface, or white actors portraying Asian characters.
“The producers said the Asians weren’t good enough and they’re not box office,” Hong said. “But look at us now!”
“We got the side parts like ‘coolies’ or troubled Asians being rescued by the white man. We were subordinates,” he added.
Hong stated that he “can count on my two hands for the roles I got that weren’t cliche”, citing his roles as a doctor in several projects and as a scientist in the 1970 science fiction film “Colossus: The Forbin Project”.
“We weren’t important people in the United States in terms of the movie industry,” he said. “Until about 10 years ago when we started winning awards. So it’s been a journey from ground zero to what it is today. But there is still a long way to go.”
The star from ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ was eventually gifted with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in May last year. He is the oldest person to receive a star on the legendary walkway.
His “Everything Everywhere” co-star Jamie Lee Curtis and “Hawaii Five-O” star Daniel Dae Kim were there to cheer him on.
“I want to feel the moment,” Hong beamed at the ceremony. “Before I was doing, you know, little, little things here and there, except ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.'”
When Kim, 54, congratulated Hong on his achievement, he told the audience he thought it was a “mistake” that Hong was “not recognized” after decades in the industry.
“And so I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that we have this national treasure at work today, alive and vital, as you saw, that could use some recognition,” said the “Lost” star.