John Cho

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John Cho
John Cho 2008.jpg
Cho in 2008
Born John Yohan Cho
(1972-06-16) June 16, 1972 (age 43)
Seoul, South Korea
Occupation Actor, musician
Years active 1997–present
Spouse(s) Kerri Higuchi (m. 2006)
Children 2

John Yohan Cho (born June 16, 1972) is a South Korean born American actor and musician. He starred as Harold Lee in the Harold & Kumar films and played the character John, MILF Guy No. 2 who popularized the term "MILF" in the American Pie films. He also starred in the critically acclaimed Asian American films Better Luck Tomorrow and Yellow.

Cho has portrayed the Star Trek character Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek reboot film series, has starred in the Total Recall remake and the comedy Identity Thief.[1] On television, he played FBI agent Demetri Noh in the sci-fi television drama FlashForward, as Chau Presley on the sitcom Off Centre and his recurring role as Andy Brooks in the horror drama Sleepy Hollow. He played Henry Higgs on the sitcom Selfie, co-starring Karen Gillan where he became the first Asian-American romantic male lead on American television.

Early life[edit]

Cho was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the United States in 1978. He was raised in Los Angeles, where his family settled after living in Houston, Seattle, Daly City, California, and the Monterey Park, California.[2][3] His father was a minister in the Church of Christ, and was originally from North Korea.[2][3][4] Cho graduated from Herbert Hoover High School,[3] in Glendale, California, in 1990. He then attended the University of California, Berkeley,[3] graduating in 1996 with a BA degree in English,[5] and taught English at Pacific Hills School in West Hollywood, California while working at East West Players's theater in downtown Los Angeles.[2]

Acting career[edit]

Cho began his career after graduating from Berkeley, when he moved to Los Angeles and worked with the Asian American theatre company East West Players.[3] There, he appeared in Edward Sakamoto's The Taste of Kona Coffee in 1996, and in Euijoon Kim's movie My Tired Broke Ass Pontificating Slapstick Funk in 2000.[6] He gained attention with a small role as "MILF Guy #2" in the 1999 comedy American Pie, in which he popularized the slang term "MILF".[3] Cho reprised the role in three sequels: American Pie 2, American Wedding, and in the latest installment American Reunion in which he has a much larger role. The character initially had no name but he was given the name "John" in the third film, named after Cho himself.

He had a successful starring role as Harold Lee in 2004's Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and reprised the role in 2008's Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, which raked in $38 million at the theaters, [7] and again in 2011's A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas which made $35 million.[8] Cho's role in the popular franchise was written specifically for him by Hayden Schlossberg, and Cho has recounted that when Schlossberg first approached him with the role, he was initially suspicious.[2]

Cho guest-starred on Charmed as a ghost in 1998 and was one of the stars of the short-lived situation comedy Off Centre in 2001–2002. He was a costar of the now-defunct Fox sitcom Kitchen Confidential based on Anthony Bourdain's best-selling book.[5] He had supporting roles in Evolution, a sci-fi comedy directed by Ivan Reitman, and Down to Earth, starring Chris Rock and a minor role in Bowfinger.

In 2002, he had a starring role in the ensemble cast of Justin Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow, a drama focusing on the travails of a group of Asian Americans living in Southern California who are academically successful but socially discontented, and as a result engage in wantonly violent, criminal behavior. It was well received by critics, with the New York Times's Elvis Mitchell describing Cho's character's "lazy magnetism of which he is charmingly aware."[9] Later that year, the movie Big Fat Liar was released, in which Cho played a Hong Kong-based movie director. He refused to do the accent scripted for his character. The director worked with him to re-develop the role.[10]

Cho appeared on July 2004 issue of KoreAm Journal and in September 2006 was cast in NBC's new comedy The Singles Table, but the series never aired due to changes in scheduling and production. In 2006 and again in 2009,[11] Cho was selected as one of the sexiest men alive in People Magazine.

In 2007, Cho was added to the cast of Ugly Betty as a recurring character. Cho plays Kenny, a best friend of accountant Henry Grubstick (played by Christopher Gorham). Cho played helmsman Hikaru Sulu in J. J. Abrams's feature film Star Trek.[12][13] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times praised him, along with Anton Yelchin, Chris Pine, and Zachary Quinto, for making their roles "ultimately and rather wonderfully their own".[14]

Cho appeared in Nas' "Be a Nigger Too" music video along with various celebrities, and had a guest appearance on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, in the episode "I'm Not That Guy" where he played a partner in an evil law firm. Of the latter, Staci Krause of IGN, wrote that Cho was "the scene stealer in this episode" and that she would "definitely like to see more of him" in the series.[15]

From 2009 to 2010, Cho starred in the television series FlashForward as FBI Special Agent Demetri Noh.[16] His character was originally slated to be killed off during what turned out to be the show's only season, but after his turn as Sulu in Star Trek boosted his popularity, the producers revised the show's storyline so that he survived, in an attempt to boost declining ratings.[17]

He starred as Henry Higgs in the short-lived sitcom Selfie, a re-tooling of the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.[18] In the role, he became the first Asian American romantic male lead on American television.[19][20][21]

Musical career[edit]

He is the lead singer for Viva La Union (formerly known as Left of Zed),[5][22] a Los Angeles garage rock band composed of former UCB and USC students. They have one album, self-titled, while their song "Chinese Baby" is featured on the Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay soundtrack.

Personal life[edit]

Cho married actress Kerri Higuchi in 2006 and have a son, born in 2008,[23] and a daughter, born in 2013.[24] They currently reside in Los Angeles, California.[25][26] He supported the 2012 re-election campaign of Democratic U.S President Barack Obama.[27] Though his character in Harold & Kumar is so associated in smoking marijuana, he has indicated that he does not partake in the use of the drug through a Larry King interview. [28]

In an interview with Glamour Magazine, he states that he is a big proponent of having a therapist because of his wife who has influenced him to have one. The thing that he owns the most is shoes, and he likes to wear Birkenstocks. His hobbies include playing and listening to music and reading fiction. However, his absolute favorite thing to do was go on long walks with his dogs when he had them because it was the best thing for his head and soul. In the use of social media, he is very cautious of it because he doesn't want to get addicted to it. His favorite vacation spot is Hawaii.[29] His bucket list includes to do Shakespeare, an action movie in Korea, and do a movie in New York sometime. [30]

He is very close to his father, a former pastor, and would like to play a role in the story of his father's generation in North Korea when growing up through the Korean War in times of hardships. [31] In a tweet he said, "Dear Dad: sometimes I need advice, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I am just telling you stuff. Thanks. Love you."[32] He is acquainted with other fellow Korean actors, such as Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, and his "hero" Margaret Cho. [33]

Being an Asian American in Hollywood[edit]

In another interview with Larry King, Cho indicates that he has found freedom in being Harold in the film because the character is against the grain of an Asian American in that of being an Asian American stoner.[31] According to the Washington Post, Cho states that he has experienced racism throughout his career in Hollywood and that he takes roles and tries to take roles that don't fall in the views of Asian stereotypes.[19] Through an interview with Glamour, he has responded that Hollywood seeks to follow trends and acts like followers of culture rather than starting and leading social trends or artistic movements, which is one of his biggest frustrations of Hollywood.[30] In another interview, he exclaims that he is "attracted to things that Asian Americans haven't done in film." [19] He acknowledges that he still faces challenges in the movie industry from being a statistical minority because of the different genres he's excluded from, such as American history movies.[34] When asked to do an Asian accent for Big Fat Liar, he refused. “I don’t want to do this role in a kid’s comedy, with an accent, because I don’t want young people laughing at an accent inadvertently,” he wrote.[35] In a tweet on March 24, 2015 he said, "Stop turning Asian roles white. It's bullshit and we all know it."[36] On being the first Asian to do a romantic lead, he described it as being "revolutionary" and a "personal revolution" for him because of its uniqueness in Hollywood. "Asians narratively in shows are insignificant. They're the cop, or waitress, or whatever it is. You see them in the background. So to be in this position... is bit of a landmark," he has said on the inability of Asians getting offered such roles.[37][38] On the inter-racial relationship role in Selfie, which was made a non-issue in the storyline, Cho exclaims, "To not even talk about it is really new and, I think, mature way to look at it."[38] He also states, "There's a reason we still have to call it "colorblind casting" instead of just casting." [19]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 Wag the Dog Aide #3
1997 Shopping for Fangs Clarence
1998 Yellow Joey
1999 American Beauty Sale House Man #1
1999 Bowfinger Nightclub Cleaner
1999 American Pie MILF Guy #2
2000 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas Parking valet
2001 Delivering Milo Mr. Hugo
2001 American Pie 2 John (MILF Guy #2)
2001 Evolution Student
2001 Down to Earth Phil Quon
2001 Pavilion of Women Fengmo Wu
2002 Better Luck Tomorrow Steve Choe
2002 Solaris DBA Emissary #1
2002 Big Fat Liar Dustin Wong
2003 American Wedding John
2004 In Good Company Petey
2004 Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle Harold Lee
2004 See This Movie Larry Finkelstein
2006 American Dreamz Frank Ittles
2006 Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas Tom
2007 West 32nd John Kim
2007 Smiley Face Mike
2008 Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Hype Man
2008 Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Harold Lee Nominated-MTV Movie Award for Best Musical Performance (with Kal Penn)
Nominated-MTV Movie Award for Best On-Screen Team (with Kal Penn)
Nominated-Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Rockstar Moment
2009 Star Trek Hikaru Sulu Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Nominated-Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
2009 Saint John of Las Vegas Carnival Human Torch
2011 A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas Harold Lee
2012 American Reunion John
2012 Total Recall Bob McClane
2013 Identity Thief Daniel Casey
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness Hikaru Sulu
2015 Zipper EJ
2015 Grandma Chau
2016 Get a Job
2016 Star Trek Beyond Hikaru Sulu Filming


Year Title Role Episodes
1997 The Jeff Foxworthy Show Pizza Delivery Man Episode: "Twister of Fate"
1998 Felicity Larry Episode: "The Last Stand"
1998 Charmed Mark Chao Episode: "Dead Man Dating"
2001–2002 Off Centre Chau Presley 28 episodes
2002 The Jamie Kennedy Experiment Himself 1 episode
2003 Kim Possible Hirotaka Episode: "Exchange"
2005 The Men's Room Bob 4 episodes
2005 House M.D. Harvey Park Episode: "Love Hurts"
2005–2006 Kitchen Confidential Teddy Wong 10 episodes
2006 Grey's Anatomy Marshall Stone Episode: "Damage Case"
2006–2013 American Dad! Vince Chung 4 episodes
2007 How I Met Your Mother Jefferson Coatsworth Episode: "I'm Not That Guy"
2007 Ugly Betty Kenny 3 episodes
2007 'Til Death Lucas Bender Episode: "Come Out and Play"
2008 Hollywood Residential Himself Episode: "It Happens"
2009–2010 FlashForward Demetri Noh 22 episodes
2010 Childrens Hospital Park Episode: "Frankfurters. Allman Brothers. Death. Frankfurters"
2011 30 Rock Lorne Episode: "Double-Edged Sword"
2011 NTSF:SD:SUV:: Chip Episode: "The Birthday Part That Was Neither"
2012–2013 Go On Steven 22 episodes
2013–2014 Sleepy Hollow Andy Brooks 7 episodes
2014 Selfie Henry Higgs Main Cast
2015 The Mindy Project Big Murder Episode: "Lahiri Family Values"
2015 New Girl Daniel Episode: "Jury Duty"

Web series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2015 Parallel Man: Infinite Pursuit Agent Nick Morgan Voice role

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Star Trek Hikaru Sulu Voice and likeness

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Total Recall Trailer: Colin Farrell Wants You to Forget". New York magazine. 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, and Ustream, episode 96
  3. ^ a b c d e f The Game-Changer: An Interview with John Cho Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "UCLA" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ "WHAT TO WATCH". Retrieved 2015-12-02. 
  5. ^ a b c "John Cho". 
  6. ^ EWP 34th Season on East West Players site
  7. ^ "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay". 
  8. ^ "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas". 
  9. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (2003-04-11). "Film Review; Teenages Determined to Damage Their Resumes". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  10. ^ Sullivan, Gail (October 9, 2014), "John Cho of ‘Selfie': ‘I experienced racism’". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  11. ^ People Magazine Sexiest Men Alive 2009
  12. ^ Borys Kit (2007-10-12). "Final frontier for Cho, Pegg". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  13. ^ Associated Press (2008-03-12). "John Cho: 'Trek' role is 'daunting'". CNN. 
  14. ^ Manohla Dargis (7 May 2009). "Movie Review: 'Star Trek'". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 Aug 2012. 
  15. ^ "How I Met Your Mother: 'I'm Not That Guy' Review". IGN. 2007-10-30. 
  16. ^ Joyce Eng (2009-05-19). "Fall TV: ABC's Official Schedule Revisits V, Moves Betty and Says Adieu to Who?". TV Guide. 
  17. ^ Keck, William (June 18, 2010). "Keck's Exclusives: Gabrielle Union FlashForwards to New Series". TV Guide. Retrieved July 9, 2010. 
  18. ^ Doll, Jen (October 20, 2014), "YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON TELEVISION." Business Week. (4399):70
  19. ^ a b c d "In 'Selfie', John Cho Gets An Unlikely Shot As A Romantic Lead". Retrieved 2015-12-02. 
  20. ^ "Will John Cho Be Television's First Asian Romantic Lead?". Huffington Post. 2014-09-25. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ Jason Buchanan (2005-03-12). "John Cho". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ "John Cho and wife Kerri expecting first child". People. April 13, 2008. Retrieved December 9, 2012. 
  24. ^ "John Cho and wife Kerri have second child". People. February 11, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013. 
  25. ^ "John Cho". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-11-30. 
  26. ^ "John Cho". Retrieved 2015-12-01. 
  27. ^ (2011-07-16) "Hollywood stars open wallets for Obama". Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  28. ^ "Does John Cho Smoke Marijuana? On Larry King Now". 
  29. ^ "Things I am called on the street, in descending order of commonality: Kumar, Harold, Sulu, MILF, that dude from LOST, John Cho. AMA.". Interviewly. Retrieved 2015-11-30. 
  30. ^ a b "On a Date With John Cho: He Opens Up About Relationship Mistakes and American Pie Secrets". Glamour. Retrieved 2015-11-30. 
  31. ^ a b "John Cho On Playing The Asian-American Stoner Stereotype | Larry King Now". 
  32. ^ "John Cho on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2015-12-02. 
  33. ^ Hyo-Won, Lee. "John Cho Speaks About Being Asian in Hollyqood". 
  34. ^ "John Cho Reflects on His Career | CAAM Home". Retrieved 2015-12-02. 
  35. ^ Sullivan, Gail (2014-10-09). "John Cho of ‘Selfie': ‘I experienced racism’". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-11-30. 
  36. ^ "John Cho on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2015-11-30. 
  37. ^ "Will John Cho Be Television's First Asian Romantic Lead?". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-02. 
  38. ^ a b Wong, Tony (2014-07-16). "“Asians narratively in shows are insignificant,” says John Cho, the romantic lead in the fall series Selfie. “So to be in this position . . . is a bit of a landmark.”". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2015-11-30. 

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