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Justin Chon Interview on the Korean Beacon

June 12, 2009

source: Korean Beacon

If you’ve watched the vampire movie Twilight, then you’ve seen Justin Chon.  So what it’s like to be in one of the biggest movies in 2008 and then follow that up with a big role in a movie that has Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd and Harrison Ford acting along side of you?  For Justin, he’s enjoying his Hollywood ride and more importantly, enjoying his craft.  He sat down to chat about the movie Crossing Over and how his character effected him.

When you read the script for “Crossing Over,” what was most compelling about the story?
First of all, having a Korean story line is pretty rare with a film with big named actors. It was a full Korean story line that ended up in a movie in its entirety. In the original script it was pretty meaty. You just don’t see that story to much about a young Korean kid struggling through his adolescent times and it’s usually older and stereotypical stories. I thought it was very cool that they tried to humanize a Korean-American immigrant.

Were you personally effected by playing your character?
I was totally effected. I had to really get into the character with a Korean accent in the movie and my accent is pretty thick. It’s been 4 years since I moved to Korea and I have to go back to a time where someone says something to you and you take it personally. You’re trying to prove yourself. So going back to that time really effected me and there were some very heavy themes.

Can you relate in any way to your character?
Oh yeah. I grew up with these kind of kids but I was never really sympathetic and gave them a second thought. And playing the part, I felt real bad for not being nicer. My character is brought to America in Junior High and it’s difficult becuse you’re not the same ethnicity and it’s tough to deal with. I could totally relate and with any character I play; there are ways to connect to them.

What do you enjoy most about acting?
I feel like for the past few years, it’s been kinda like I gotta succeed or book the next thing. And recently, I feel like I’m enjoying it and having fun with it: not trying to meet expectations or wondering how I should act a certain part. I’m really enjoying acting because I’m more experimental and pushing boundaries. I’m really having fun with it and not making it a job. I just have freedom in my art.

Who are your inspirations?
In terms of actors, I’d say Mark Ruffalo, Crispin Glover, Robert Downey Jr., Tim Roth, and of course people like Johnny Depp. I really like the actors who are not so mainstream but beat the odds with their talent. It’s more about people who worked really hard. That’s who interests me.

Has it been difficult being an Asian-American actor?
Of course. I’m not going to lie. If anyone tells you something different then they’re lying. It’s amazingly difficult. You’re fighting for a few spots. When you go to the auditions, you see everybody: maybe it’s for a 25 year old part, and you see people from 18 to 40 years old auditioning. It’s really hard to get producers to believe in you to pull off a non-Asian role and take that risk. It’s starting to change a little bit.

Do you think America is more accepting of Asian-American actors in more prominent roles?
I would say that they give us a chance in prominent roles but not lead roles. They’re really capitalizing on Asian-American content i.e. Streetfighter, Dragonball. There’s a lot of Asian content being made, but they don’t always cast Asian people for the movies. It is a business and if their main guy doesn’t have a proven record for bringing in numbers then they don’t want to take that risk.

Do you know many of the other Asian actors?
We all know each other and we’re all friends. That’s kinda of a good thing about the Asian-American community: everyone knows each other and eveyrone’s friends and we support each other. No one is really trashing each other.

What has been the best experience so far on this ride?
The best part about the whole thing is sharing the experience with my family and friends. I went to a convention for “Twilight” in the UK and I got to take one of my friends and we also went to Italy. I was able to take my sister to the “Twilight” premiere. Also, having my dad and mom’s support is great. It’s more than just me experiencing things; it’s being able to share the experiences who are closest to me.

Have your parents been supportive?
Both my parents are artistic and my dad was an actor from 10 to 25 years old in South Korea. He even won awards in Korea. My parents are probably more critical of my work: he’s (dad) always critiquing. It’s cool that they can talk to me about my craft.

So what do you do when you’re not filming?
I own 2 shoe and clothing stores: the “Attic” in Buena Park and San Diego. They’re contemporary clothes and street wear. It’s stocked with local and unknown brands.

What’s your favorite korean food?
I luv gaktogee. I would just eat it without my food.

Thank Justin and good luck filming the next Twilight!

If you would like to celebrate the DVD release of  CROSSING OVER, you can join Justin tonight (Monday), June 8th at 6:00 pm PST / 9:00 pm EST on StarCam!  You can chat with Justin live and ask him the questions you want answered.

Just sign up at

“Crossing Over” comes out on DVD on June 9th.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Whitley permalink
    June 29, 2009 2:07 pm

    Justin makes me laugh in Twilight, I love his face when they are the beach and he says, “What date?” Great interview.

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