Three more key roles cast in The Last Airbender

mandvi-toub-curtisIn a press release from Paramount sent out on Thursday and reported by Dark very early on Friday, they announced that four more actors have joined the cast of the M. Night Shyamalan-directed The Last Airbender (based on the hit Nickelodeon TV series “Avatar: The Last Airbender”):

Aasif Mandvi: Best known for his correspondent work for “The Daily Show,” Mandvi will be playing Commander Zhao, a leader for the Fire Nation army.
Shaun Toub: Last seen as the doctor who helps Tony Stark build his first suit in Iron Man, Toub will be playing Uncle Iroh, a father figure to the Fire Nation’s Prince Zuko.
Cliff Curtis: Best known for his leading role in the New Zealand indie Whale Rider, Curtis has been cast as Prince Zuko’s father and lead villain Fire Nation Lord Ozai.

Also cast in the film has been Keong Sim, who will play one of the Earthbenders. Sim’s IMDB bio isn’t very extensive, but since he’s a New Yorker, I’m definitely going to keep my eye on him.

Now, for the uncomfortable part.

So far, I haven’t taken an “official” stance in the ongoing debate over Shyamalan and Paramount’s Airbender casting choices, and I don’t think I’ll do so in this post either, because that’s not what it’s for.

If there’s anything that both the argument about racism in the science-fiction and fantasy genres (colloquially known as RaceFail ’09) and Jon Stewart’s televised evisceration of Jim Cramer and CNBC taught me is that the idea of trying to tackle a large important issue in less than 500 words in a forum that isn’t built for such things isn’t fair to anyone to whom this really matters—which should be everyone in the entire freaking world. Hell, there are over 3,800 words alone in this LiveJournal post of “key” links about Race Fail ’09 alone, and that’s only the titles!

However, I’m not going to keep you from wanting to post your opinions, as long as you can be mature about it and refrain from being trollish or total dicks about it. There have been a lot of interesting comments made to the original post about the lead Airbender roles being cast, and I, too, am eager to see if anything will change as a result.

Thanks for your time.

Related Posts: M. Night Shyamalan takes two steps forward with Airbender casting…but is it enough?

Posted on March 16, 2009 at 05:20 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: Around the Intertubes, News · Tagged with: , , , ,

10 Responses

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  1. Written by Angel H.
    on 2009-03-16 at 07:01

    I’m glad that they’re casting a more diverse set of characters, but this is only the supporting cast. (Unless things have changed recently) The main protagonists are still played by white actors in a world based on Asian cultures.

  2. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2009-03-16 at 12:08

    It looks like South Asians are filling in for the Fire nation (who should be basically Japanese); Koreans or more likely East Asians in general are filling in as the Earth nation (which should be a mishmash of all the mainland Asian cultures)… and white folks for the Water and Air nations.

    Better. But still lame.

  3. Written by Carl
    on 2009-03-16 at 16:49

    So… Indians/South Asians will be the bad guys, and Caucasians will be playing the good guys? Are they seriously not aware of the unfortunate implications this has?

  4. Written by Gordon McAlpin
    on 2009-03-17 at 10:17

    Well, Prince Zuko (Dev Patel) isn’t exactly a bad guy. He’s an antagonist, at least early in the story, but not evil.

    Besides, the writer/director is Indian. I think that gives him a free pass.

  5. Written by Jeyson B.
    on 2009-03-17 at 15:33

    I think that this movie should be made right and having causasians playing the main roles is not the way to go. Just from the casting this movie is going to be a total let down and my excitement is totally gone. Im sure millions of fans will agree with my opinion and its …….. rediculous.

  6. Written by Carl
    on 2009-03-19 at 07:07

    Pfft. Shyamalan does not get a free pass just because he’s of Indian heritage. Especially since Avatar is one of the very few movies where Asians can be cast without accusations of tokenism.

  7. Written by Nina
    on 2009-04-04 at 08:02

    Another part of the ridiculousness of casting non-Asian actors is the cultures, including clothing, customs ect., is strictly specific to certain Asian cultures. White and Indian actors dressed up in traditional Japanese, or Chinese, or Korean dress is going to look ridiculous on-screen. I don’t think they’ve thought through the racist implications here, or literally how petty it is not to cast the proper actors for the roles.

  8. Written by gabe
    on 2009-06-25 at 01:45

    of course there’s also the simple possibility that the casting pool for 10- year old chinese boys is pretty shallow and they simply went with the actor they thought would be best for the character.

    do we want the current version of Jake Lloyd for Aang?

    I’d prefer good actors to ethnic accuracy. I’d like to assume that an effort was made. I’ll admit hollywood doesn’t exactly have a good record in this area though.

  9. Written by wrong cast
    on 2009-07-01 at 17:56

    Airbender has a mystic asian feel to it (by asian I mean Chinese, Korean, Japanese etc…) but now the main character is caucasian and the only ethnic character is East Indian…it’s a totally different culture…I know I won’t be watching this- it will probably erase the characteristics that the cartoon characters have brought to life for me in the animated version.- race shouldn’t be an issue with casting and if race wasn’t an issue, I’m sure that most people who loved the cartoon would have chosen the cast differently

  10. Written by Tiger
    on 2010-06-27 at 17:02

    I never understand…. it's a shame that The Last Airbender is one of (if not THE) most diverse movie in Hollywood History and people are still going to claim stuff like whitewashing.

    The Cartoon had White Characters, East Asian Characters and Native American-like Characters… The movie has those and added races that the cartoon excluded (Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Black) and now the movie is still considered racist.

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