Jaine *
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actors playing ethnicities other than their own

for the purposes of this blog I define ethnicity specifically, eg, Korean as opposed to Asian, New Zealander as opposed to Caucasian (as a side note, I did not grow up with the word Caucasian, I tend it associate the word with white Americans coz I only ever heard it on American tv/movies, in NZ generally the terms New Zealand European or Pakeha are used, personally I prefer Pakeha but that is a whole other blog).

When I came through Hong Kong last year and met up with the AnD crew (such an awesome bunch) and for some reason was talking about Cliff Curtis and Temuera Morrison (I think it's coz Patrick bought up the movie Once Were Warriors).  I mentioned that they often played other ethnicities (not Maori), for instance Cliff often plays Arabs or Hispanics.   Patrick mentioned that Asian American's faced the same problem - being cast as ethnicities other than their own.  I was actally taken aback and didn't know what to say - simply because I have never seen it as a problem.

We Kiwi's are very proud of Cliff (and other NZ actors working in Hollywood) and see their acting as other ethnicities as a mark of their talent and versatility.  It never occured to us that this was a problem (I say us, coz I have never heard another Kiwi speak of it in a negative light).   Maybe it is because we are a small nation (5 million people in a world population of 8 billion) at the bottom of the world on the edge of all things, that we don't really expect there to be roles for Maori or NZers in general or we just view certain things differently.  I don't know. shrugs

 Cliff Curtis 

Take for instance Karl Urban, he played Eomer in the Lord of the Rings and has been in various NZ movies and tv shows.  His international roles include a Russian assassin in the Bourne Supremacy, a viking and more recently Bones - the American doctor in Star Trek.  While we are on Star Trek, in the latest movie Simon Peg, an Englishman, played Scotty (who is supposed to be Scottish) but even the original Scotty was played by a Canadian (James Doohan),  WTF does it matter.

Martin Csokas, another Kiwi actor in Hollywood often plays East Eurpean villans (Triple X, The Bourne Supremacy, Evilenko) as well as other non New Zealander roles...

I'm not trying to be insensitive, I'm just trying to understand why it is seen as a negative when it can be viewed in a positive way....

To be clear, I'm not talking about the stereotyping of ethnicities (Asians alway being cast as martial artists or fast food delivery guys) - where the I agree the problem is serious and I can understand folk getting pissed off.  Neither am I talking about whites playing black people or Asian people, like they did in the past which was clearly a racist practice.   

over 11 years ago 0 likes  9 comments  0 shares
Photo 432523
We want Lucy Lawless. Not only is she a blonde but she is good looking as well.
over 11 years ago
Default avatar
Ditto on Caucasian, I used to wonder in the Tv Shows from America what it meant, I figured out after a while of seeing who the suspects were that they spoke of. Perhaps Asians are fed up of being cast as mainly Martial Artists when they have so much more talent to offer to roles and it has been a struggle to get past those thoughts in Hollywood, rather than for the fact they are cast as other ethnics but I am looking from an outsiders point of view, I too think it is great when people show they can play different roles.
over 11 years ago
Jrs 8c 1405439596528
It shocks me sometimes the blurring of ethnicities but then, heck, if the movie's good and nobody's upset by it, then kudos to the person who landed the role and got the job done well. I guess I'm not in much of a mood to fight today! haha! Peace, everybody!
over 11 years ago
Photo 28042
White or black actors from the UK or Australia or NZ can play any American parts on US TV (how are they so good at the `American` accent? are we so easy???) But an Asian-American actor is frequently relegated to stereotypical roles like the science/math/computer nerd or the Yakuza/HK Triad gangster or doctor. It takes a while for these stereotypes to become passe`. But to when there is an uproar about Zhang Ziyi playing a geisha or Hiroyuki Sanada playing a Chinese general. The problem is not with the acting but with the language. You either can do the accent (like UK actor Hugh Laurie playing American doctor House) or you cannot. I think the problem is not just trans-Asian but trans-Chinese as well. Beijingers don`t like the way Hong Kongers sound and vice-versa. As for Asian actors in American movies -- to most American audiences Asian actors are pretty much interchangeable. That`s the truth. But if you or anyone reading this ever took the test at alllooksame.com it makes you not so sure of yourself again. I just rambled on but I just had 2 shots of tequila and some wine so forgive my incoherence.
over 11 years ago
Rottendoubt a4 patrick
hmm .... i guess that's true! i think we're just sensitive since non-asians will think we're all just the same. =D
over 11 years ago
Photo 16256
For the Asian actors being cast as any Asian ethnicity, I used to be sensitive about that bc I figured there were plenty of actors of true ethnicity who could have been awarded the role. Like, why would a Japanese have to be played by a Korean/Chinese/Hawaiian, etc. when there were probably many true bloods vying for the role? And to some of us, we can hear the difference in their speech/inflection/lilt and so on, which kinda distracts. It's just annoying, personally. However, I figure it's just acting and most of the time casting just wants to fill the role with able-bodied persons who can embody the character the way they want him/her to. They don't have to be 100% accurate. Cast a wider net and see who fits the bill. One figures since Caucasian actors can be cast in a role outside of their ethnicity, what's the diff with Asians? It's all just pretend.
over 11 years ago
Photo 43083
Well, RAIN's upcoming performance in NINJA ASSASSIN fits this model ~ he's Korean, the character is Japanese ... same thing for his supporting role in the SPEED RACER live film ... think he impressed the Wachowski Bros. enough in that role to acquire the starring in NINJA ASSASSIN ...
over 11 years ago
Photo 5614
hmm... I never noticed this thing about the ethnicities... so I guess I don't really have any comment about it... but I do see the stereotypes and yes, I think we will all agree that it is a problem... *shrugs*
over 11 years ago
Photo 34078
This is something I've always took issue with as far as Asian actors. They are not interchangeable and I wish Hollywood would stop seeing it that way. I don't know how many times I've cringed when they've cast someone who is not Chinese to play a Chinese person and then have to hear that person butcher my language. Maybe Asians all look the same to Caucasian casting directors but they most certainly don't to Asians. That said, I've noticed alot of Brits playing Americans in American TV and I don't mind that if they can nail the accent cause there are alot of fine actors on TV now.
over 11 years ago


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