Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Long From Wish Dragon Sounds So Familiar

"Wish Dragon" represents a new model for international animation: a Chinese-American collaboration helmed by a star of equal magnitude in both countries. As producer Chris Bremble told Variety, "Our goal in developing the project ... was to make world-class animation in China for China ... and the world." Produced by Jackie Chan, "Wish Dragon" is a CGI animated adaptation of the classic genie in a bottle story, adapted for a 21st-century Chinese audience. Din (Jimmy Wong) is a college student in modern Shanghai, who stumbles upon a magical (yet cynical) wish-granting dragon named Long.

The cast is star-studded, with actors from "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Fresh Off the Boat," and Chan voicing Long in the Mandarin version of the film. But in the English release, Long is played by a voice actor who might sound familiar. This performer has been working in Hollywood for decades, doing everything from playing a stereotype-defying Asian stoner to starring in one of the first thrillers to make hay out of how everything in our lives essentially takes place on a camera phone. Here's the identity of the actor who voices Long in the English version of "Wish Dragon."

John Cho goes to White Castle

John Cho voices Long in the English release of "Wish Dragon," and he got his first big break in the gross-out comedy boom of the '90s and '00s. One of his first important roles was, as dumb as this sounds, "MILF Guy #2" in "American Pie." That scene popularized the idea of a MILF in the global consciousness. Linguists and New York magazine credit Cho's scene with making the term famous.

Cho further solidified his big-budget comedy bona fides by starring in "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," where he played Harold Lee, a stoner with his life pretty together — at least, compared to his best friend Kumar Patel (Kal Penn). Harold and Kumar somehow turn the quotidian task of getting burgers into a sprawling road movie that broke stereotypes for Asian Americans in film and also revived the career of Neil Patrick Harris. "You sense playing the characters Harold and Kumar was a cathartic experience for a jaded Cho and Penn, who could both finally stretch beyond a caricature of an Asian person, and not miss out on a lead role to Sean William f***ng Scott," wrote Thomas Hobbs for Nylon.

He inherited a groundbreaking sci-fi role

John Cho took over the role of Hikaru Sulu in the J.J. Abrams "Star Trek"-iverse. Sulu was a hugely important character in sci-fi and television history. A cultured and cool guy, George Takei originated the role on the CBS show. Takei showed off his fencing chops in the Season 1 episode "The Naked Time," a skill that Cho reprised in 2009's "Star Trek."

Cho's version of Sulu is gay, partially in tribute to Takei. It was somewhat groundbreaking in the "Star Trek ” world, as LGBTQIA+ representation was scant (via Gizmodo) in the TV shows and movies. It troubled queer fans that a utopian future didn't seem to include them. However, Takei was disappointed in the change to his former character. "I'm delighted that there's a gay character," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "Unfortunately, it's a twisting of [Gene Roddenberry's] creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate."

Taking a Selfie

Continuing his pattern of breaking new ground for Asian Americans in Hollywood, John Cho was (briefly) the first Asian romantic lead on television. "Selfie" was a modern adaptation of the "Pygmalion"/"My Fair Lady" story starring Cho and former "Doctor Who" companion Karen Gillan. Cho played marketing expert Henry Higgs, who gives media training to the self-obsessed Instagram influencer-wannabe Eliza Dooley (Gillan). "I would call this revolutionary," Cho told the Toronto Star of his casting. "It's certainly a personal revolution for me."

Unfortunately, the world didn't revolt along with Cho. "Selfie" was canceled after one season, despite garnering praise from BuzzFeed and Entertainment Weekly. A Change petition to bring the show back got over 65,000 signatures, to no avail.

Cho continued to guest in the romantic sitcom sphere, appearing in an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" (a show where his former "Harold and Kumar" co-star Kal Penn also had a prominent guest role) and playing a potential love interest for Jess in the episode of "New Girl" that kicked off Zooey Deschanel's maternity leave.

Searching for a leading man role

In 2016, John Cho's many fans vented their frustration at Hollywood's insistence on white male leads with the Twitter hashtag "#StarringJohnCho." Started by William Yu, the movement Photoshopped or deep-faked Cho into major blockbusters with such lead characters. "I was like, you know what, I'm done talking about it. If no one's gonna really try, then I'll just make something and I'll show you," Yu told Syfy. "I'll show everyone else what it looks like, so we can just stop talking about it and we can actually have a tangible physical thing from there on."

Cho did get to lead a major film in 2018, the techno-thriller "Searching." He played concerned dad David Kim, who uses his daughter's social media to find her when she goes missing. The film was depicted entirely through smartphone and laptop screens, a la "Unfriended," showcasing a found-footage style for the iPhone age. "It sounds more like a cheap gimmick than it actually is, and if I'd skipped it I would've missed the ultimate evidence of John Cho's remarkable evolution into a capable leading man," Vince Mancini wrote for Uproxx

Of course, fans of the #StarringJohnCho movement already knew he was leading man material.