Gedde “Long Duk Dong” Watanabe on Duping John Hughes to Get His Famed ‘Sixteen Candles’ Role

Long+Duk+Dong-Gedde+Watanabe-audition

No director has ever offered teenager actors such well-written parts in movies as John Hughes, who is best remembered for writing and directing the “Brat Pack” films Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as well as writing Pretty in Pink. Nonetheless, though known for writing substantial roles for young people, Hughes wrote his fair share of comedy relief parts in his scripts. Perhaps none are as memorable as Long Duk Dong, the Asian foreign exchange student in Sixteen Candles, portrayed by Gedde Watanabe. Though an accomplished New York stage actor before being cast, Watanabe was adamant about pursuing the role of a stereotypical Asian student despite being raised in Utah. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Sixteen Candles, Watanabe spoke to New York magazine about how he duped Hughes into giving him the part despite being as American as apple pie.

He reveals, “I was living in New York and had been in the original cast of [Stephen Sondheim’s] Pacific Overtures and done work with the Public Theater and Joe Papp. My agent at the time sent me the script. It said the character of Long Duk Dong was a foreign exchange student and from Asia, but that was about it. To set myself apart, I asked a friend of mine who had a thick Korean accent if I could hang out with him and learn. I then went to the audition in character using my friend’s accent. Which wasn’t a very smart idea because I was basically lying and would have to tell them at some point that I only spoke English and was from Ogden, Utah. The casting director, Jackie Burch, was talking to me like I was from another country. Finally I had to admit I was lying. She wanted me for the role and said, ‘Don’t tell John.’ So we kept it a secret until the table read in Chicago when I took him aside and said, ‘John, I have to tell you something … ‘ He said, ‘Where’s your accent?’ I was just so nervous telling him that I was afraid I’d get fired and aware of my own embarrassment that I’d told a huge lie. But John just had a big chuckle as if to say, ‘Boy, was I duped.'”

If only all directors took deception that well!

Leave a Reply

Latest Videos

http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/sag-foundation-conversation-with.jpg
SAG Foundation Conversation with the Cast of NBC’s ‘Marry Me’
Earlier this month NBC put in an order for five additional episodes of its freshman romantic comedy series, Marry Me. While that isn’t exactly the shot of confidence that a full-season renewal provides, it’s enough to keep fans of the comedy — which is about an engaged couple who are determined to get married despite […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/michael-caine.jpg
Michael Caine Talks About Acting With Your Eyes and Does an Amazing Cold Read of a Script
This week acting legend Michael Caine appears in his sixth film directed by Christopher Nolan, Interstellar. In an interview clip from The New York Times that was shot around the release of the last movie Caine worked on with Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises, reporter Melena Ryzik spoke to Caine about his six-decade career. In […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/director-dan-gilroy-narrates-a-s.jpg
Director Dan Gilroy Narrates a Scene from ‘Nightcrawler’ Featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo
Nightcrawler is easily one of the best movies of the year and its star, Jake Gyllenhaal, is outstanding. Definitely check this out when you have a chance. In the above clip, writer/director Dan Gilroy narrates a sequence from the film that features Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. He talks about giving Gyllenhaal a small piece of […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/matthew-mcconaughey-talks-losing.png
Matthew McConaughey Talks Losing the Lead Role in ‘Bernie’ to Jack Black
Though Matthew McConaughey has increased his earned plenty of respect since he started taking on more substantive movie roles in the last few years (with Dallas Buyers Club even earning him an Oscar for Best Actor), one director that always has been a fan of McConaughey is Richard Linklater. Linklater gave McConaughey his first big […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/watch-benedict-cumberbatch-film.jpg
Watch: Benedict Cumberbatch Film the Smaug Motion Capture for ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’
Though Peter Jackson‘s movie adaptations of The Hobbit haven’t received the same critical acclaim as his films based on the book’s sequel, The Lord of the Rings (turning a 300 page book into 9+ hours of film tends to do that), fans are still eagerly anticipating the release of the final part of The Hobbit […]