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Dante Basco Believes He Knows Why He Was Cast In Avatar: The Last Airbender

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" was an influential TV show for an entire generation, teaching valuable life lessons while introducing fans to a world-building series unlike any other. "Avatar" takes place in a world divided into four nations, with each kingdom mastering control over one of the four natural elements. The Water Tribes, the Fire Nation, the Earth Kingdom, and the Air Nomads include people who can telekinetically manipulate their element, known as benders. Only one person in the world, the Avatar, can master all four bending techniques. The Avatar is a role that has been present throughout this world's history, with reincarnation putting their soul into another body upon death. 

While the original series was widely successful, earning an incredible 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, it quickly spawned an entire franchise. "Avatar: The Last Airbender" now spans TV, books, comics, video games, and one infamous film adaptation. A sequel series, "The Legend of Korra," premiered in 2012 and showed a slightly more mature take on the "Avatar" world. The franchise has become so successful that Paramount and Nickelodeon decided to go all-in, developing three animated films in the universe. The first movie will expand Aang's story, so any character from his time has the potential to return (via Variety). None of the cast has commented on their potential returns, the success of the original series all but guarantees some big names returning. While no one could have predicted the show's success, there's a bright future ahead for the "Avatar" world. 

Looking back on how he landed the role of Zuko, Dante Basco had an interesting take on why he thinks he nabbed a spot on "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

A tale of similar names

Dante Basco's voice has become synonymous with Prince Zuko, reaching generations of audiences with his work on "Avatar: The Last Airbender." The iconic voice actor now hosts the "Avatar: Braving the Elements" podcast with "Legend of Korra" star Janet Varney. Joining the two actors on one episode were "Avatar" creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. If you noticed a familiar name there, you aren't alone, as both Basco and DiMartino reflected on catching the shared name between them. Basco jokingly stated that he landed the role of Prince Zuko because he shared the name "Dante" with DiMartino, and the creator admitted that it did catch his attention. "We'd get the auditions on CD back in the day... and they did list the actors' or actresses' names on them," DiMartino said. "I remember seeing 'Dante Basco' and I jokingly said, 'That's our guy right there. That's gonna be him.' And sure enough, it really did end up being you."

Throughout "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Basco's character Zuko has one of the best character arcs. He begins his story as a villain, stopping at nothing to hunt down Avatar Aang and his friends, but slowly develops into an ally for the team. On the podcast, Konietzko revealed that Zuko was nearly a different character, as the duo planned to have an adult hunt down Team Avatar. It wasn't until Nickelodeon executive producer Eric Coleman stepped in that things changed. He suggested it would be scarier if someone close to the team's age were after them. The simple yet genius change brought on the Zuko that fans love.