Being in Star Wars is “awesome f-cking”
Sung Kang is alive the dream – its version, at least.
“My American dream was not to be invisible,” said the 49-year-old Korean-American star. Fast Furious films tells Reverse. And these days he’s approached by people, and especially kids, who recognize him as âHan,â the ice-cool drift racer of Dominic Toretto’s crew.
âIf they come over to me during dinner with my family, of course, it gets boring,â Kang said. “But now is the time for me to put this together.” I use Han for a change [things]. Han represents this incredible change in the way people view Asian American men. “
Raised by a working-class family with a black stepfather, Kang describes his upbringing in the Southern United States as third-class citizenship. âIt didn’t matter what we said,â he recalls the way his family was treated. “We were right on the way.”
And yet, this mistreatment started a fire under Kang. âI knew we could change that,â he says, whether it means seeking political office, playing sports or being an actor. “It was my American dream: to show that we are three-dimensional people.”
Since his return to Fast Furious this year’s saga F9, Kang shifted gears. In March, he was cast in the Star Wars series. Obi-wan, airing on Disney + in 2022. Kang has been told to keep details of his role under lock and key, and he’s complying with it while promoting his latest film, the crime drama. Snake head. Still, there are rumors that he could play a Jedi.
Whether or not he wields a lightsaber, playing in Star Wars will be a major moment for Kang, who grew up swinging paper towel rolls to simulate those Jedi weapons. âIt’s awesome on every level,â Kang says. âI remember being a kid like, ‘How do you do it? How do you become Luke Skywalker? ‘â
Kang’s road to Star Wars was trickier than just training with Yoda. While enrolled at UC Riverside, Kang chose to become an actor rather than take law school, much to his parents’ dismay. âMy mother was a cleaner,â he says. âBeing an actor in Hollywood was not a discussion at our table. Our discussions were about survival.
When he started, Kang’s chances looked dismal. American actor of Asian origin who did not know martial arts, Kang also exuded a certain nonchalance that Hollywood rewards especially among white actors. âThere were no opportunities,â he said. âTo survive as an actor is practically impossible. You could get an advertisement. Corn [to] actually using everything you’ve learned, from school and books from all the greats you aspire to be, I realized that wasn’t going to happen.
Kang became “depressed and unsure of his prospects” – until Justin Lin’s 2002 film Better luck tomorrow came up with. Loosely based on the murder of Stuart Tay in 1992, the film follows a group of high school students who run a petty crime ring. The film marked Kang’s first performance as Han, a chain-smoking bad boy with a driver’s license. When Lin switched to blockbusters, he brought Han – and Sung Kang – with him to Fast Furious, where Han has become a real fan favorite.
Better luck tomorrow was one of the first independent films of the millennium about Asian Americans that was directed by Asian Americans. The film showed Kang that change can still happen in an industry that resists it.
âIf there are no writers and decision makers from our community within the system, the world doesn’t change,â Kang says. “[Better Luck Tomorrow] put me in a category of top men in Hollywood that never existed.
In Snake head, Kang is playing cool once again. Director Evan Jackson Leong’s first narrative feature film (behind Jeremy Lin’s documentary Insanity), Snake head is based on the real-life story of Sister Ping, who from 1984 to 2000 smuggled thousands of Chinese people into the United States where they worked to pay Ping’s exorbitant fees. The term “snakehead” is translated from Chinese and refers to a human trafficker.
Snake head follows Sister Tse (Shuya Chang), who arrives in New York to find her daughter embroiled in this dark affair. Kang plays Rambo, the petulant son of underworld boss Dai Ma (Jade Wu). Like Han, Rambo also has an affinity for cigarettes, which allows Kang to give off the same old-fashioned black cool he’s known for.
Kang heard about Sister Ping while filming on location in New York City, where the film crew was in contact with people who knew her. “She [was] a community leader, âKang says. âPeople came to ask him for help. They were counting on her.
But Sister Ping’s legacy is heavy, given that she was a trafficker who used intimidating tactics to collect her fees whenever needed. âI didn’t grow up hearing about her,â the actor says. ” All the story [I learned] was people who met her.
Snake head is motivated by the pursuit of the American dream by its characters. Kang is determined to choose projects that reflect the same effort towards this personal ideal that he has made throughout his career. âThe opportunities that I got one way or another,â he says, and that’s all the proof he needs that the American dream is real.
Kang knows America is full of problems; he is currently participating in the #StopAsianHate activism to tackle anti-Asian hate crimes, which have been on the rise over the past year. But “a child like me can dream, and [it] can actually happen, âhe says.
After all, he’s in Star Wars now. He will never be invisible again.
“Being on the set of Obi-wan and in the world of Star Wars you have to pinch yourself, âhe says. “How did a kid from Georgia end up here?”
Snake head hits theaters and digitally and on demand on October 29.