John Cho

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Cho
Cho in June 2018
Born
Cho Yo-Han

(1972-06-16) June 16, 1972 (age 51)
Seoul, South Korea
NationalityAmerican
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA)
OccupationActor
Years active1997–present
Spouse
Kerri Higuchi
(m. 2006)
Children2
Korean name
Hangul
조요한
Revised RomanizationJo Yo(-)han
McCune–ReischauerCho Yohan

John Cho (born Cho Yo-Han; June 16, 1972)[1] is an American actor known for his roles as Harold Lee in the Harold & Kumar films, and Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek rebooted film series,[2] the Asian-American film Better Luck Tomorrow, the critically acclaimed Columbus and the award-winning Searching, which made him the first Asian American actor in history to headline a mainstream thriller film in Hollywood. He was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead for his performance in Searching.

He also made history in American television in the 21st century as the first Asian-American actor cast as a romantic lead in a romantic comedy series when he starred as Henry Higgs in the 2014 sitcom Selfie.[3] In addition to his role in Selfie, Cho has had lead roles in series such as FlashForward, Off Centre, and The Afterparty, and recurring roles in Sleepy Hollow and Difficult People. In his early career, Cho attained great recognition for his guest starring role in the fantasy television series Charmed.

Early life[edit]

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Cho moved to the United States in 1978.[4][5] He was raised in Los Angeles, where his family settled after living in Houston, Seattle, Daly City, California, and Monterey Park, California.[6][7] His father was a minister in the Church of Christ and was originally from North Korea.[6][7][8] He grew up with one younger brother.[9][10] Cho graduated from Herbert Hoover High School, in Glendale, California, in 1990.[7][11]

Cho attended the University of California, Berkeley. In 1994, he toured nationally for a stage production of Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.[12][7][13]

Career[edit]

After graduation, Cho taught English literature[14][9] at Pacific Hills School in West Hollywood, California, while acting at East West Players in downtown Los Angeles.[6][7][15] There, he appeared in Edward Sakamoto's The Taste of Kona Coffee in 1996 and in Euijoon Kim's film My Tired Broke Ass Pontificating Slapstick Funk in 2000.[16]

Cho gained attention with a small role as "MILF Guy #2" in the 1999 comedy American Pie, in which he popularized the slang term MILF.[7] Cho reprised the role in three sequels: American Pie 2, American Wedding, and the latest installment American Reunion in which he has a much larger role. His character initially had no name but he was given the name "John" in the third film, named after Cho himself.

Cho guest-starred on Charmed as the ghost of Mark Chao one of the leading character Piper Halliwell's most prominent love interests in the episode "Dead Man Dating" in 1998; a role for which he states that he still "gets asked about... all the time."[17][18] He was one of the stars of the short-lived situation comedy Off Centre from 2001 to 2002; where his character Chau Presley became the breakout character of the sitcom.

He was a costar on the Fox sitcom Kitchen Confidential based on Anthony Bourdain's best-selling book. He had supporting roles in the science fiction comedy Evolution directed by Ivan Reitman, Down to Earth, and Bowfinger.

In 2002, Cho 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 Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times describing Cho's character's "lazy magnetism of which he is charmingly aware".[19] Later that year, the movie Big Fat Liar was released, in which Cho played a Hong Kong-based film director. He refused to do the accent scripted for his character. The director worked with him to re-develop the role.[20]

Cho 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 earned $38 million at the box office,[21] and again in 2011's A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas which made $35 million.[22] 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.[6]

Cho appeared in the 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[23] and again in 2009,[24] Cho was selected as one of the sexiest men alive in People magazine.

Cho, right, promoting The Exorcist at the 2017 New York Comic Con. Beside him are his co-stars (left to right) Ben Daniels, Zuleikha Robinson, and Kurt Egyiawan.

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. Cho played helmsman Hikaru Sulu in J. J. Abrams's feature film Star Trek.[25][26] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times praised him for making his role "ultimately and rather wonderfully [his] own".[27]

Cho appeared in Nas's "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.[28]

From 2009 to 2010, Cho starred in the television series FlashForward as FBI Special Agent Demetri Noh.[29] 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.[30]

In 2012, he was part of the cast ensemble of Go On as Steven.[31]

Cho starred as Henry Higgs in the short-lived sitcom Selfie, a retooling of the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw,[32][33] becoming the first Asian American man to play a romantic lead on a U.S. romantic comedy television series in 2014.[3] At the time, Keli Lee was the executive vice president of Talent and Casting at ABC who selected Cho as a candidate[34][35] and also previously cast Cho in Flashforward.[36] Julie Anne Robinson, one of the directors and executive producers of Selfie, revealed in 2021 interviews that she strongly supported casting Cho and had to persuade "top to bottom of everybody in that chain" that he was the perfect choice for the role, which took considerable time. Robinson fought for Cho and won, saying, "That's what I'm most proud of about that whole pilot."[37][38][39] The show continued to have a dedicated fan following after its broadcast. In July 2022, when Cho was asked about his thoughts on the show's cancellation, he answered, "I'm still stunned to see how many people still love that series. And yeah, I was bummed when it got canceled. I just thought that was a good show."[40] In January 2023, Cho mentioned he had not received many offers for romantic comedy roles since Selfie.[41]

In 2016, he was a series regular for the television show as Andy Kim in the second season of The Exorcist television series.[42]

In 2017, he starred in the film Columbus, which received critical acclaim.[43]

In 2018, Cho starred in the film Searching, playing a man combing social media for clues to his daughter's disappearance. He was the first Asian-American actor to headline a mainstream thriller in Hollywood.[44] Also in 2018, he was presented with the Spotlight Award at the San Diego International Film Festival.[45]

In April 2019, Variety reported that Cho had been cast as Spike Spiegel in a live-action version of the Cowboy Bebop series.[46] However, production shut down when Cho suffered a knee injury in October and remained shut down until late September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[47] Cowboy Bebop premiered on Netflix on November 19, 2021.

He wrote a middle school grade novel book for younger readers called Troublemaker on March 22, 2022.[48]

In May 2022, Cho was cast in the second season of Apple TV+'s comedy series The Afterparty as "Funcle" Ulysses Zhu.[49][50]

Musical career[edit]

Cho is the lead singer for Viva La Union (formerly known as Left of Zed),[51] a Los Angeles garage rock band composed of former Berkeley and USC students. They have one album, self-titled, while their song "Chinese Baby" is on the Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay soundtrack.

Discography[edit]

Band: Left of Zed

  • Demo tape (1998)
  • Album: Furious Bloom (2004)

Band: Viva La Union

  • Album: Viva La Union (2009)

Personal life[edit]

Cho married actress Kerri Higuchi in 2006.[52] They met at UC Berkeley and later dated when they came to Los Angeles.[53] They have a son, born in 2008,[54] and a daughter, born in 2013.[55] As of 2015, he and his family reside in Los Angeles, California.[56] He is close to his father, a former preacher, and would like to play a role in the story of his father's generation, growing up in North Korea through the Korean War.[57]

Cho has indicated he has found freedom in being Harold in the Harold and Kumar films because the stoner character goes against the grain of Asian Americans onscreen.[57] He has said he has experienced racism throughout his career in Hollywood and that he tries to take roles that do not perpetuate Asian stereotypes.[58] When asked to do an Asian accent for Big Fat Liar, Cho 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.[59] In a 2015 tweet he said, "Stop turning Asian roles white. It's bullshit and we all know it."[60] On being the first Asian to play a romantic lead on a U.S. romantic comedy television series, he described his casting in Selfie 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.[61][62]

In 2016, Cho was the face of the "#StarringJohnCho" social movement and hashtag campaign, created by William Yu, wherein Cho is Photoshopped onto existing movie posters as the male lead. The purpose of the project was to call attention to the lack of opportunities for Asian American actors in Hollywood.[4][63]

Cho supported the 2012 re-election campaign of Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama.[64]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Shopping for Fangs Clarence
Wag the Dog Aide #3
1998 Yellow Joey
1999 American Beauty Sale house man #1
American Pie John credited as MILF guy #2
Bowfinger Nightclub cleaner
2000 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas Parking valet
2001 American Pie 2 John (MILF guy #2)
Delivering Milo Mr. Hugo
Down to Earth Phil Quon
Evolution Student
Pavilion of Women Fengmo Wu
2002 Better Luck Tomorrow Steve Choe
Big Fat Liar Dustin Wong
Solaris DBA emissary #1
2003 American Wedding John
2004 Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle Harold Lee
In Good Company Petey
See This Movie Larry Finkelstein
2005 American Dreamz Frank Ittles
Bam Bam and Celeste Stephan
2006 Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas Tom
2007 West 32nd John Kim
2008 Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Harold Lee
Harold & Kumar Go to Amsterdam Harold Lee Short film
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Hype Man
Smiley Face Mike
2009 Saint John of Las Vegas Carnival Human Torch
Star Trek Hikaru Sulu Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cast
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
2011 A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas Harold Lee
2012 American Reunion John
Total Recall Bob McClane
2013 Identity Thief Daniel Casey
Star Trek Into Darkness Hikaru Sulu
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya Middle Counselor Isonokami (voice) English dub
That Burning Feeling Roger Whitacre
2015 Grandma Chau
Zipper EJ
2016 Get a Job Brian Bender
Star Trek Beyond Hikaru Sulu
2017 Columbus Jin Lee
Gemini Edward Ahn
A Happening of Monumental Proportions Mr. Ramirez
Literally, Right Before Aaron Mark
2018 The Oath Peter Barber
Mirai Mr. Ota (voice) English dub[65]
Searching David Kim
2019 Between Two Ferns: The Movie Himself
2020 The Grudge Peter Spencer
Tigertail Grover Scenes cut; also executive producer[66]
Over the Moon Ba Ba (voice) [65]
2021 Wish Dragon Long (voice) English dub[67][65]
2022 Don't Make Me Go Max Park
2023 Ghosted The Leopard Cameo
The Graduates[68] John Also executive producer
TBA They Listen[69][70] Post-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
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 Static Shock Thomas Kim / Tantrum, Navigator (voices) 2 episodes[65]
2001–2002 Off Centre Chau Presley Main role
2002 The Jamie Kennedy Experiment Himself 1 episode
2005 The Men's Room Bob 4 episodes
2005 House M.D. Harvey Park Episode: "Love Hurts"
2005–2006 Kitchen Confidential Teddy Wong Recurring role
2006 Grey's Anatomy Marshall Stone Episode: "Damage Case"
2006–2023 American Dad! Vince Chung (voice) 6 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 Main role
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 Main role
2013–2014 Sleepy Hollow Andy Brooks 7 episodes
2014 Selfie Henry Higgs Main role
2015 BoJack Horseman Lead improv-er (voice) 2 episodes
2015 The Mindy Project Big Murder Episode: "Lahiri Family Values"
2016 New Girl Daniel Episode: "Jury Duty"
2016 House of Lies Sean Chew Episode: "Holacracy"
2016 Drunk History William Shakespeare Episode: "Landmarks"
2016 Lip Sync Battle Himself Episode: "Ben Kingsley vs. John Cho"
2016 The Hindenburg Explodes! Reggie Pilot
2017 Difficult People Todd Ross 4 episodes
2017 The Exorcist Andrew Kim Main role (season 2)
2017 Do You Want to See a Dead Body? Himself Episode: "A Body and Some Quicksand"
2019 The Twilight Zone Raff Hanks Episode: "The Wunderkind"[71]
2020 Home Movie: The Princess Bride Inigo Montoya Episode: "Chapter Nine: Have Fun Storming The Castle!"
2021 Cowboy Bebop Spike Spiegel Main role
2023 The Afterparty "Funcle" Ulysses Zhu Main role (season 2)[49][50]
2023 Praise Petey Bandit (voice)
2023 Artbound Himself Season 14, Episode 6: East West Players: A Home on Stage.[72] Documentary.
2024 The Sympathizer Supporting role[73]
TBA Rhona Who Lives by the River D'John

Stage[edit]

Year Title
1996 The Taste of Kono Coffee
1997 F.O.B.
2000 My Broke Ass Pontificating Slapstick Funk

Web series[edit]

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

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
1997 D.A. Pursuit of Justice Lu Sun [74]
2003 Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu Additional characters
2013 Star Trek Hikaru Sulu [65]

Book[edit]

  • Troublemaker (March 22, 2022) – middle school grade novel for younger readers[48]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]