How does it feel to personally carry the high expectations of the entire Korean-American community?
"My back hurts!" says John Cho, laughing.
"On a serious note, it can get paralyzing," adds the actor. "But now, there are so many Korean actors out there doing their thing, it's great to see."
It wasn't always that way.
"When I was starting out, it was really hard," says Cho, 41. "I tried to do things like turn down auditions I thought were stereotypical. That sort of thing, small as it was, was difficult. Now it seems like I don't even have to make those decisions anymore. People understand what I do and I'm not faced with that on a day-to-day basis like I used to be."
What Cho does is star in films such as Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (and its two sequels), the American Pie franchise and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films. He's also on TV, most recently in Sleepy Hollow.
And he's the lead singer in the band Viva La Union.
It's all made him famous.
"Famous? I'll report that to my mother," he jokes.
Cho is currently starring in That Burning Feeling, a comedy in theatres Friday about contemporary relationships. He stars as a real estate shark with zero scruples, and he makes a terrific villain.
"It was fun playing him. He's kind of a sociopath with no capacity for empathy and he's completely self-absorbed. Jason James, the director, had suggested I take a look at a few names, and Tom Ford was one of his suggestions."
Cho watched a documentary about the famous clothing designer. "He's a strange and wonderful person," says Cho. "He has a weird way about him — sort of spiritual, but completely self-obsessed." The actor laughs. "That's just my interpretation. I tried to exploit that a little bit."
Cho is also one of the producers of That Burning Feeling, although the news has yet to be added to his profile on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB).
"I'm picking up a folding chair and throwing it at my own window!" he jokes.
Cho, who studied English literature at the University of California at Berkeley, is the star of a new TV series called Selfie, a modern version of My Fair Lady. "I was really flattered and thrilled with the opportunity to do something that was sort of romantic," he says. "I don't get the chance to do that sort of thing very often. The show was created by a very clever, very interesting woman named Emily Kapnek, and Karen Gillan, a wonderful Scottish actress from Dr. Who and Guardians of the Galaxy is in it. It was a joy doing that kind of work."
The father of two was in the middle of spring break with his kids when we spoke.
"When I was a kid," he says, "my parents didn't obsess over activities and stuff for me and my brother. Now it's really full-throttle with activities."
As a result, the Seoul native has just had an American rite of passage.
"My parents were immigrants and therefore we didn't take part in these sort of, American rituals, like Little League. We were moving around a lot and it was not a tradition for them, so I never learned to throw a baseball or swing a bat," he says.
"And now my boy is beginning T-ball. So at this advanced age of my life, just standing next to the coach while he was teaching my five-year-old, I learned officially how to throw a baseball and swing a bat." Cho sounds delighted.
"I'm here to announce you can learn anything at any time!"
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my bb looking so good as a bad guy ♥