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Wendell & Wild Voice Star James Hong Says He's Proud To See The Strides Made In Asian Representation In Hollywood - Exclusive

It's been landmark year in the amazing career of prolific actor James Hong, who has appeared in more than 450 film and TV roles. But even after seven decades in the entertainment business, Hong — who has starred in such film classics as "Blade Runner," "Big Trouble in Little China," and the 2022 acclaimed indie sensation "Everything Everywhere All at Once" — continues to scale new heights in showbiz.

In addition to his hundreds of live-action roles, Hong is also a prolific voice actor who has been featured in such hit animated films as "Mulan," "Kung Fu Panda" and its sequels, and more recently, "Turning Red." His latest voice role for the new Netflix original film "Wendell & Wild" is unique, though, in that it marks the first time Hong has appeared in a feature produced in stop-motion animation.

Directed by iconic stop-motion director Henry Selick and co-written by Selick and Jordan Peele, the film follows a pair of demon brothers, Wendell (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele), who are summoned to the Land of the Living from the underworld by Kat (Lyric Ross), a 13-year-old girl racked with guilt over the loss of her parents. Also among the residents that the mischievous brothers encounter in the Land of the Living is Father Bests (Hong), the headmaster of Kat's Catholic boarding school who just fell victim to a dastardly plan by a pair of scheming townsfolk.

Wendell & Wild isn't the only career first Hong experienced in 2022. Earlier this year, Hong received a long-awaited honor that elevated the actor's goal for greater Asian American representation in Hollywood.

Hong hopes for greater recognition of actors and filmmakers of Asian descent

In May 2022 — appropriately during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — James Hong received his long-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after a nomination and lobbying efforts for the honor by fellow actor Daniel Dae Kim. With the Hollywood Star, Hong became only the 19th person of Asian heritage to be honored among the Walk of Fame's 2,700 members.

The Walk of Fame honor is among the biggest accolades Hong has received for his lifelong work as an actor, and his greatest hope is that more Asian Americans in the entertainment industry can be recognized with a Hollywood Star or other major awards in the future. In an exclusive interview, Hong told Looper that such big honors won't come to other Asian American actors and filmmakers until they are afforded the opportunity to properly represent their heritage and culture on screen.

"There have to be more Asian American actors recognized in this industry. Seventy years ago, when I started, there were no roles for Asian Americans that were top roles [and] that were human beings. We were all cliché characters," said the Minneapolis, Minnesota-born Hong, who is of Chinese descent. "Now, [Asian American] directors are winning Academy Awards for big-time movies. You might say there's been progress in 70 years, but I hope there's going to be a lot more progress in the next 10 years for the Asian American actors. There are so many of us waiting — young people that are talented, waiting in the wings to come forward. They just need a chance."

"Wendell & Wild," starring the voices of Hong, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Angela Bassett, and Ving Rhames, is streaming exclusively on Netflix.