Why Does John Cho Think He’s “Just Now… Learning to Act”


Actor John Cho in Searching

“I feel for the first time some measure of confidence in my performances that I didn’t when I was younger” – John Cho

John Cho is best known as the “Harold” in the Harold and Kumar film series and Sulu in the Star Trek reboot series, but perhaps Cho’s biggest accomplishment as an actor is starring in Searching, the first major studio thriller film to star an Asian-American in the lead role. Cho spoke about that milestone with Yahoo! Entertainment and explains why he didn’t think he was ready for a lead role until now.

When asked if he wishes he would’ve had the opportunity to play the lead role in a movie like Searching twenty years ago, Cho replies, “You know I’ve been thinking about that a little bit later. In some ways, it worked out for me in that I learned as I went and I feel as if just now I’m learning to act. It seems like for me, such a ridiculous problem that we’re still incrementally making progress. It’s hard not to see the absurdity of it, it’s ridiculous that it’s been going on for so long. I’ve known generations of Asian-American actors who have just really didn’t have the work available for most of their career.”

Asked to clarify on what he means about just learning how to act now, Cho answers:

“I think I spent, and this is just a real personal thing, I spent the first half of my career being obsessed with two things. One was being scared of the camera on the set that I was sort of distracted by its presence and I’ve learned to make my peace with it and work with it. I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, or actor talky, it’s just an unsettling thing for me.

The second thing, I think I spent a lot of the early part of my career making sure the directors and producers were happy, kind of ignoring my own, you know, ‘did I feel happy with my performance, do I feel like I’m connecting with the other actor.’ Not that that should be the only measure of success but I was certainly excluding myself from the conversation, but when I turned inward a little bit I allowed myself to do that, I felt like I got better at it, ironically. I wasn’t totally focused on other people when I allowed myself to be a participant in my own performance. I feel for the first time some measure of confidence in my performances that I didn’t when I was younger.”

More: John Cho Interview: Bad Auditions and Stumbling into Franchises

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