Chris Pang as Jonny Smith in Charlie's Angels. Photo: Sony Pictures

Chris Pang Breaks Down the Asian Villain Stereotype

by Neil Bui

Actor Chris Pang is redefining the Hollywood stereotype for the Asian villain in his latest role in the Charlie’s Angels reboot.

The Crazy Rich Asians star truly came into the role and made it his own.

“Firstly I wasn’t supposed to be Australian,” Pang said. “The original role was for a 40-year-old Russian so they changed it up a fair bit once I came in.”

For Charlie’s Angels, the actor of Chinese and Taiwanese descent was able to use his natural Australian accent, appropriately deviating from negative tropes like his past experiences having to use an Asian accent.

“I was supposed to come in with maybe a bit of an Asian accent and speaking Chinese,” Pang said. “[When the production team] heard the Australian accent, they just loved it so much that we completely changed the character to be Australian.”

For far too long, the Western entertainment industry has caricatured Asian men as criminals from the Orient, opium-obsessed Chinamen, or the dangerous threat Yellow Peril communicates. Today, this stereotype lingers on with films portraying them as members of the Triad, Yakuza or other Asian gangs, as well as communists or sinister businessmen.

“Obviously I’ve done some action films, I’ve played a bad guy with an Asian accent before and so we wanted to change it up,” Pang said.

It’s worth noting that the earlier Charlie’s Angels films starred Asian talent as well – Lucy Liu.

“When Charlie’s Angels came out in 2000, it really impacted me that Lucy Liu was one of the angels,” Pang said. “Out of all the women in the world to represent that generation of talented, beautiful women that were on screen kicking ass, we had an Asian woman and that was really important for me to see.”

“Now, I’m in the film. I might not be the role model that people want but I’m in the film and I’m representing. There’s an Asian face in there,” Pang said.

Catch Chris Pang in Charlie's Angels. Photo: Sony Pictures

Catch Chris Pang in Charlie’s Angels. Photo: Sony Pictures

Charlie’s Angels is opening in Australian theaters on November 14 and in American theaters on November 15. Let us know what you think of the reboot. Do you think the film will have a strong opening weekend? At a $48 million budget, how’s $16 million in its opening weekend?

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