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How Greg Baldwin Was Primed To Take Over Avatar: The Last Airbender's Iroh Way Before He Was Ever Cast

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" is a celebrated Nickelodeon original — one that found success in the late 2000s thanks to a cast of intriguing characters. Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen) and his pals Sokka (Jack DeSena), Katara (Mae Whitman), and Toph Beifong (Michaela Jill Murphy) stood as the most prominent, alongside the redeemed villain Zuko (Dante Basco) and his sister, the ruthless Azula (Grey DeLisle). Meanwhile, in terms of supporting cast members, the one above all others that fans continue to adore long after the show concluded in 2008 is the ever-wise Uncle Iroh.

Introduced at the beginning of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Iroh went on quite a journey as the show progressed. He helped Zuko grow beyond his angry urges, taught just about every other character a valuable lesson or two, and even opened up his own tea shop, the Jasmine Dragon, by the series' end. The legendary Makoto "Mako" Iwamatsu voiced him until his July 2006 death due to esophageal cancer, prompting Greg Baldwin to step in from then on. Suffice to say, he made for an excellent Iroh, even if the gig wound up in his lap somewhat unexpectedly.

As it turns out, though, Baldwin was more than ready to become Uncle Iroh long before he adopted the part. Here's how he unknowingly prepared.

An old Mako recording inadvertently prepared Baldwin to become Iroh

In an interview with The Guardian to discuss the enduring cultural impact of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Greg Baldwin touched on his tenure as Uncle Iroh. According to him, even though he never anticipated taking on the role from Mako, he was prepared to do so all the same. That's because he received a copy of the "Pacific Overtures" soundtrack in 1977, which featured Mako in the role of the Reciter. Over the years, Baldwin listened to the recording regularly, perfecting his Mako impersonation in the process. "I was one of the few people who had been doing an impression of Mako for 30 years," he said.

Baldwin last voiced Iroh on the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" sequel series "The Legend of Korra," and when audiences spend time with the character again, he won't be the one bringing him to life. That honor will go to Paul Sun-Hyung Lee for Netflix's upcoming live-action "The Last Airbender" series, and Baldwin is excited to see how he handles the part. "I can't wait to see what he does with the role. I know when we finally see the picture of him in full costume, I am going to cry along with everybody else," he told The Illuminerdi in a 2022 interview, warning Lee that he may have some emotional fan encounters in his future.

Both Mako and Greg Baldwin made Uncle Iroh a household name on "Avatar: The Last Airbender," and surely Paul Sun-Hyung Lee's take on the iconic character will prove just as appreciated via the live-action reimagining.