469 television shows. 149 movies. 32 short films. 22 video games. James Hong has a total of 672 acting credits on his IMDb page. The Chinese-American actor has been working in Hollywood since 1954. Yet he still does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! Daniel Dae Kim (“Lost,” “Hawaii Five-0”) wants to change that.
A couple weeks ago, Kim started a GoFundMe to raise money to submit Hong’s name to receive a star. Using the hashtag #StarforJamesHong, the fundraiser blew up on Twitter. It reached its $55,000 goal in just three days. $50,000 is the required amount for the installation and maintenance of the star; the other $5,000 is for GoFundMe’s fees. Kim plans to submit Hong’s application in the spring, to be considered for the class of 2022. If, for some reason, Hong is not chosen, the funds will go towards a charity of his choosing.
In the meantime, we sifted through the 91-year-old actor’s storied career and chose our five favorite roles. Here they are in chronological order.
1 Hannibal Chew in “Blade Runner” (1982)
Hong’s scientist specializes in making eyes for the replicas, ultra-human-like robots, in this sci-fi classic. His scene being questioned by the big bad is full of creepy tension. Hong’s character’s response is also memorable: “I just do eyes.”
2 David Lo Pan in “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986)
Hong leans into his villainous side to play the mystical Lo Pan. After losing in battle, Lo Pan was cursed to look like an old man forever. To break the curse, he must marry a green-eyed girl and then sacrifice her to the gods. The movie follows a gang of heroes as they try to stop this sinister plot.
Hong has said that this is his favorite role, as well as the one he is most recognized for.
3 The maitre d’ in the “Seinfeld” episode “The Chinese Restaurant” (1991)
“The Chinese Restaurant” is a classic episode of the show about nothing. It often makes it onto lists of the best “Seinfeld” episodes. The episode consists solely of the gang waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. Hong plays the maitre d’ who is unamused by their pleas to be seated sooner. His oblivious deadpan is the funniest part of the episode.
4 Chi-Fu in “Mulan” (1998)
My favorite love-to-hate character from my childhood was this advisor to the Emperor of China in “Mulan.” Chi-Fu tags along with the army even though he has no battle experience. He serves as a foil to show just how well equipped Mulan is to be a warrior. But everyone’s the hero of their own story!
5 Mr. Ping in “Kung Fu Panda” (2008)
Hong voiced the father to Jack Black’s kung fu master Po in this Gen Z childhood staple. Even though the goose isn’t the panda’s biological father, he always encourages Po to follow his dreams. Even if it isn’t the noodle dream.
Who wouldn’t want a dad like Mr. Ping, or to eat at his noodle shop?
BONUS: Whatever he’s in next!
Let’s face it, everyone of Hong’s characters is an instant icon. He’ll next be starring in the sci-fi movie “Everything Everywhere All At Once” alongside Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis. He has also just been announced as the voice of O-Sensei in the new 70s-set animated Batman movie “Batman: Soul of the Dragon.” He's not slowing down any time soon!