Pin It

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/2014/10/alex-sharp-curious-incident-of-the-dog.jpg
Alex Sharp Talks About His Broadway Debut in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ (video)
Alex Sharp went from working in a call-center and renovating houses to going to Julliard. And now, he’s starring in one of the most talked about shows of the season, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Check out this great, inspiring video!
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Its-only-a-play.jpg
Watch a Scene From Terrance McNally’s, ‘It’s Only a Play’, Featuring Nathan Lane and Micah Stock
Here’s a quick scene from Terrance McNally‘s It’s Only a Play, currently on Broadway at the Schoenfeld Theater. In this scene, Nathan Lane and Micah Stock meet for the first time. The show, about the opening night of a new play, also stars Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham, Rupert Grint and Megan Mullally.
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/birdman-director-alejandro-g-ina.jpg
‘Birdman’ Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu Narrates a Scene from the Film Featuring Michael Keaton and Edward Norton
Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu narrates a scene from Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance that features stars Michael Keaton and Edward Norton. The film is wonderful and if it’s playing in your town, definitely check it out!
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/the-cast-of-mad-men-on-the-final.jpg
The Cast of ‘Mad Men’ on the Final Season and More
Though the AMC television series Mad Men might not carry the same cultural weight that it did a few years ago (splitting your final season over two years might do that to you), the second half of the show’s final season is expected to be full of powerful performances from its ensemble cast. With the […]
http://www.dailyactor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/behind-the-scenes-of-a-sex-scene.jpg
Behind the Scenes of a Sex Scene with Patrick Wilson, Brooklyn Decker and Director Joe Carnahan
Director Joe Carnahan is giving viewers an inside look at what it is like to film a big screen Hollywood sex scene, as confirmed by Gawker. Carnahan released a brief video clip taken from the set of his latest film Stretch starring supermodel and actress Brooklyn Decker and Patrick Wilson. The video showcases the two […]