I was honored to have been able to interview the legendary actor James Hong last week at Salt Lake Comic Con. I learned quite a few things about his career during his interview but there were also a few things that we didn’t get a chance to touch on. So I wrote up a few fun facts about James Hong that you may not know.
1) He was almost Mr. Sulu on Star Trek
George Takei and James Hong both auditioned on the same day for the role of Mr. Sulu on Star Trek: The Original Series. James Hong said that while he was waiting for his turn, George Takei came out of the audition. James asked him how it went and George said it was “just another low budget science fiction TV series.”
2) He voiced many of the characters in the original Godzilla movie
The black & white creature movie: Godzilla: King of the Monsters was dubbed for English language. James Hong lent his voice to 8 different characters in the film. In several scenes, he is even having a conversation with himself as he voiced multiple characters arguing with each other.
3) Has more movie & TV acting credits than any actor in history
Although, IMDB lists over 300 TV & film credits, James Hong has been in more than 550 movies and TV shows including several movies in the AFI’s top 100 films of all time such as Blade Runner (#96) & Chinatown (#21).
4) He entertained the troops with the USO
If you’ve ever seen James Hong live, you know he’s hilarious and quick-witted. He spent many years as a stand-up comedian and performed with the USO doing comedy, singing, and dancing.
5) He ad-libbed many of Lo Pan’s most famous lines
During the filming of Big Trouble in Little China (arguably James Hong’s most famous role) there were several times when director John Carpenter let James Hong improvise and some of those off-the-cuff lines made it into the final film. For instance, the line: “Now this really pisses me off to no end!” was totally improvised.
6) He played the suicidal military man in Airplane! (1980)
Sporting a mustache and military uniform, you may not have noticed that James Hong plays the military man who comically commits suicide rather than listen to Ted Striker tell more of his sob story.
7) He does a great impression of Peter Lorre, James Cagney, & Groucho Marx
James Hong can do impressions of famous Hollywood celebrities. Three in particular that are spot-on are Peter Lorre (The Maltese Falcon), James Cagney (White Heat), and Groucho Marx (Duck Soup). The Groucho Marx impression is particularly interesting because James Hong actually appeared on Marx’ game show (You Bet Your Life) in 1950 and James Hong’s appearance on that show generated the most fan mail of any guest at that time. It also helped to launch James Hong’s career.