Thursday, November 4, 2010

Asian Actress For Star Trek’s New Vulcan

The internet was all of a flutter yesterday as a tiny piece about the use of iPads in Hollywood mentioned a meeting which took place with writers and producers of the second Star Trek movie in its newest incarnation. Here is the quotation, lifted from the New York Times.

“[Robert] Orci, meeting with the producers JJ Abrama, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, and his fellow writer Alex Kurtzman, jump-started the discussion with an iPad slide show, showing stills from the first film, snapshots of potential locations and a photo of a suggested actress for one of the roles. On the woman’s photo, he had used his iPad to paint on a Vulcan ear.”

Some additional information which has been doing the rounds of agents’ offices and casting chatter for a good few weeks is the search for an actress of Asian origin to play the new Vulcan. As there isn’t exactly a glut of working Asian actresses in Hollywood with the required looks, age and height (the character has been noted as being “5ft 6 plus”) the field is a narrow one. What we do know is that the actress whose photo was used by Bob Orci is not under consideration, (she’s thought to be too much of a name) but was a suggestion of type. That actress was definitely of Asian extraction.

At the San Diego Asian Film Festival last weekend a panel of familiar East Asian faces including Lost‘s Daniel Dae Kim and Glee‘s Harry Sum Jr. discussed the recent headway made for Asian actors on network television but still bemoaned the limited opportunities in Hollywood features for Asian leads. (Althought not present, actress and writer Maurissa Tancharoen’s song “Nobody’s Asian in the Movies” could have been a nice soundtrack to the panel.)

Star Trek is one of the few sci-fi hits of recent times to have a prominent Asian character. Gene Roddenberry wanted Hikaru Sulu to represent all of Asia (a fact that wasn’t lost on Korean American John Cho when he took over the role from Japanese American George Takei) and imply that a peaceful future awaited the East of the continent which had seen a great deal of conflict when Trek began in 1966. The show became known for its willingness to push buttons, especially when it came to reaching out to other races and acknowledging cultural sensitivity (Spock was the first lead character on US television to be in an arranged marriage. though it didn’t exactly end well).

What hasn’t been established is which actress will follow in the footsteps of Linda Park (Hoshi Sato) and Jacqueline Kim (Demora Sulu). With Star Trek not filming until July next year, who’s up for a little speculation?

T’Pring, Spock’s Vulcan bride played by Arlene Martel; Dichen Lachman; Maggie Q