John Cho

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Cho
John Cho in 2018.jpg
Cho in June 2018
Cho Yo-Han

(1972-06-16) June 16, 1972 (age 49)
Seoul, South Korea
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Years active1997–present
Kerri Higuchi
(m. 2006)
Korean name
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 reboot film series.[2]

Early in his career, Cho also starred in the Asian American–centered films Better Luck Tomorrow (2002), Shopping for Fangs (1997), and Yellow (1998). In 2017, he received critical acclaim for his performance in the hit indie film Columbus. In 2018, he starred in the thriller film Searching, making 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 as the first Asian-American actor cast as a romantic lead when he starred as Henry Higgs in the 2014 sitcom Selfie. In addition to his role in Selfie, Cho has had lead roles in series such as FlashForward and Off Centre, and recurring roles in Sleepy Hollow and Difficult People.

Early life[edit]

Born in Seoul, South Korea, Cho moved to the United States in 1978.[3] He was raised in Los Angeles, where his family settled after living in Houston, Seattle, Daly City, California and Monterey Park, California.[4][5] His father was a minister in the Church of Christ and was originally from North Korea.[4][5][6] Cho graduated from Herbert Hoover High School, in Glendale, California, in 1990.[5][7]

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 BA degree in English.[5][8][9]


After graduation, Cho taught English at Pacific Hills School in West Hollywood, California, while acting at East West Players in downtown Los Angeles.[4][5] 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.[10]

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

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".[11] 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.[12]

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 raked in $38 million at the theaters,[13] and again in 2011's A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas which made $35 million.[14] 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.[4]

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,[15] 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 (played by Christopher Gorham). Cho played helmsman Hikaru Sulu in J. J. Abrams's feature film Star Trek.[16][17] 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".[18]

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.[19]

From 2009 to 2010, Cho starred in the television series FlashForward as FBI Special Agent Demetri Noh.[20] 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.[21]

Cho starred as Henry Higgs in the short-lived sitcom Selfie, a retooling of the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw,[22][23] becoming the first Asian American to play a romantic lead on a U.S. television series.

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.[24] Also in 2018, he was presented with the Spotlight Award at the San Diego International Film Festival.[25]

In April 2019, Variety reported that Cho had been cast as Spike Spiegel in a live-action version of the Cowboy Bebop series.[26] 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.[27]

Musical career[edit]

Cho is the lead singer for Viva La Union (formerly known as Left of Zed),[28] 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 featured on the Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay soundtrack.

Personal life[edit]

Cho married actress Kerri Higuchi in 2006. They have a son, born in 2008,[29] and a daughter, born in 2013.[30] As of 2015, he and his family reside in Los Angeles, California.[31] 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.[32]

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.[32] 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.[33] 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.[34] In a 2015 tweet he said, "Stop turning Asian roles white. It's bullshit and we all know it."[35] On being the first Asian to play a romantic lead on a U.S. television series, 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.[36][37]

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.[3][38]

Cho supported the 2012 re-election campaign of Democratic U.S. President Barack Obama.[39]



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 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 3D 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
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
Searching David Kim
2019 Between Two Ferns: The Movie Himself
2020 The Grudge Peter Spencer
Tigertail Grover Scenes cut; also executive producer[40]
Over the Moon Ba Ba (voice)
2021 Wish Dragon[41] Long (voice) English version


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
2001–2002 Off Centre Chau Presley Main role
2002 The Jamie Kennedy Experiment Himself 1 episode
2003 Kim Possible Hirotaka (voice) 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 Recurring role
2006 Grey's Anatomy Marshall Stone Episode: "Damage Case"
2006–2013 American Dad! Vince Chung (voice) 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 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"[42]
2021 Cowboy Bebop Spike Spiegel Main role


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 (voice)

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
2013 Star Trek Hikaru Sulu Also likeness


  1. ^ "John Cho Biography". Archived from the original on September 20, 2015. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
  2. ^ Chi, Paul (July 26, 2018). "Two Years After #StarringJohnCho, John Cho Is Finally a Leading Man". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  3. ^ a b Falcone, Dana Rose (December 20, 2017). "John Cho Thinks His Immigration Story Makes Him a True Citizen". Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  4. ^ a b c d Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, and Ustream, episode 96
  5. ^ a b c d e f Wang, Oliver (July 3, 2009). "The Game-Changer: An Interview with John Cho". Asia Pacific Arts (UCLA Asia Institute). Archived from the original on January 21, 2014.
  6. ^ "What to watch". Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  7. ^ Buchanan, Jason (2008). "John Cho". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2008-05-11.
  8. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (2008-04-23). "John Cho rises to the top, with Harold's help". SFGate. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  9. ^ Varian, Maya Felipa (2016-10-11). "John Cho". Cal Reunions. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  10. ^ EWP 34th Season Archived 2011-04-06 at the Wayback Machine on East West Players site
  11. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (2003-04-11). "Film Review; Teenages Determined to Damage Their Resumes". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  12. ^ Sullivan, Gail (October 9, 2014), "John Cho of 'Selfie': 'I experienced racism'". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  13. ^ "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay".
  14. ^ "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas".
  15. ^ People Magazine Sexiest Men Alive 2009
  16. ^ Kit, Borys (2007-10-12). "Final frontier for Cho, Pegg". The Hollywood Reporter.
  17. ^ "John Cho: 'Trek' role is 'daunting'". CNN. Associated Press. 2008-03-12.
  18. ^ Dargis, Manohla (7 May 2009). "Movie Review: 'Star Trek'". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 Aug 2012.
  19. ^ "How I Met Your Mother: 'I'm Not That Guy' Review". IGN. 2007-10-30.
  20. ^ Eng, Joyce (2009-05-19). "Fall TV: ABC's Official Schedule Revisits V, Moves Betty and Says Adieu to Who?". TV Guide.
  21. ^ Keck, William (June 18, 2010). "Keck's Exclusives: Gabrielle Union FlashForwards to New Series". TV Guide. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  22. ^ Doll, Jen (October 20, 2014), "YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON TELEVISION." Business Week. (4399):70
  23. ^ "Was 2014 A Banner Year for Asian Americans on Television?". NBC News. December 27, 2014. Archived from the original on August 20, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  24. ^ General, Ryan (2018-07-25). "John Cho Makes History as the First Asian Actor Leading a Hollywood Thriller in 'Searching'". Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  25. ^ "Night Of The Stars Tribute | San Diego International Film Festival". 2019-04-03. Archived from the original on 2019-04-03. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  26. ^ Otterson, Joe (April 4, 2019). "Cowboy Bebop: John Cho, Mustafa Shakir Among Four Cast in Netflix Live-Action Series". Variety. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  27. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 18, 2019). "Cowboy Bebop: Netflix Series Shuts Down Production For 7-9 Months Following Star John Cho On-Set Injury". Deadline. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  28. ^ Wang, Oliver (2009-07-03). "Asia Pacific Arts: The Game-Changer: An Interview with John Cho (part 2)". Asia Pacific Arts. Archived from the original on 2009-07-09. Retrieved 2020-03-17.
  29. ^ "John Cho and wife Kerri expecting first child". People. April 13, 2008. Archived from the original on December 9, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  30. ^ "John Cho and wife Kerri have second child". People. February 11, 2013. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  31. ^ "John Cho". Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  32. ^ a b "John Cho On Playing The Asian-American Stoner Stereotype". Larry King Now.
  33. ^ "In 'Selfie', John Cho Gets An Unlikely Shot As A Romantic Lead". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  34. ^ Sullivan, Gail (2014-10-09). "John Cho of 'Selfie': 'I experienced racism'". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-11-30.
  35. ^ Cho, John (verified account) [@JohnTheCho] (March 24, 2015). "Stop turning Asian roles white" (Tweet). Archived from the original on May 11, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2015 – via Twitter.
  36. ^ "Will John Cho Be Television's First Asian Romantic Lead?". The Huffington Post. 25 September 2014. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ "#STARRINGJOHNCHO". #STARRINGJOHNCHO. Retrieved 2020-08-27.
  39. ^ (2011-07-16) "Hollywood stars open wallets for Obama". Retrieved 2011-07-16.
  40. ^ Jung, E. Alex (March 26, 2020). "Alan Yang's Tigertail Is a 'Fever Dream' of His Father's Immigration Story". New York. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  41. ^ Jackie Chan, China's BaseFX Making 'Wish Dragon' for Sony Animation
  42. ^ Petski, Denise (December 3, 2018). "'The Twilight Zone': John Cho, Allison Tolman & Jacob Tremblay To Star In Episode Of CBS All Access Reboot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 3, 2018.

External links[edit]