James Hong has been in everything, everywhere, but not all at once.
The 94-year-old has appeared in over 650 screen projects over the course of his eight-decade career, and he has no intention of slowing down.
“I’d like to make a couple of other movies because this is my chance,” he told the Guardian in a recent profile about his decision to never retire from Hollywood. “I’ve waited all these years to do projects and now people are going to back me.”
The “Everything Everywhere All at Once” icon began his film career in the 1950s, and his first big movie was “Soldier of Fortune” with Clark Gable.
Hong said it’s “almost a miracle” that he would be cast in a film that is as big as “Everything Everywhere” after years of being in the industry. “I never dreamed that would happen,” he gushed.
The adventure comedy has been cleaning up in the 2023 awards season, earning 11 Oscar nominations and winning two Golden Globe Awards.
The prolific Asian-American actor portrays Gong Gong in the film, the father of Michelle Yeoh’s character, Evelyn Quan Wang.
The “Blade Runner” star also spoke to how Asian performers had to claw their way through the entertainment industry, as Tinseltown was often filled with yellowface, or white actors portraying Asian characters.
“The producers said the Asians were not good enough and they are not box office,” Hong said. “But look at us now!”
“We were given the side parts as ‘coolies’ or distressed Asians being rescued by the white guy. We were underlings,” he added.
Hong stated that he can “count on my two hands the roles that I got that were non-cliched,” naming his roles as a doctor in several projects and a scientist in the 1970 sci-fi flick “Colossus: The Forbin Project.”
“We were not important people in the United States as far as the film industry was concerned,” he said. “Until about 10 years ago when we started winning awards. So it’s been a journey from ground zero to what it is now. But there’s still a long way to go.”
The “Big Trouble in Little China” star was finally gifted with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in May last year. He is the oldest person to receive a star on the legendary walkway.
His “Everything Everywhere” co-star Jamie Lee Curtis and “Hawaii Five-O” star Daniel Dae Kim were there to cheer him on.
“I want to feel the moment,” Hong beamed at the ceremony. “Before I was doing, you know, little, small things here and there except for ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.’”
When congratulating Hong on his achievement, Kim, 54, told the audience that he believed it was an “oversight” that Hong “hadn’t been recognized” after decades in the industry.
“And so all I wanted to do was bring attention to the fact that we have this national treasure working today, alive and vital, as you saw, who could use some recognition,” said the “Lost” star.