With J.J. Abrams Star Trek Into Darkness now playing around the world, we recently landed an exclusive phone interview with John Cho. During the interview, he talked about making the sequel, how things changed on set, who was the one who broke the most while filming, his preparation process, did he take anything home from set, deleted scenes, and a lot more. He also talked about the status of Harold and Kumar, Get a Job, working with Matthew Perry on Go On, Bryan Cranston, and working on the pilot for Sleepy Hollow. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
Collider: Nada, what’s going on with you?
CHO: Not much, we’re in San Francisco at the moment.
Oh, good times. I saw Mr. Pegg last night, he was here in L.A.
CHO: Oh, you did? Okay cool. And now I’m with him, so we’re sharing.
Right on. So jumping into…
CHO: I need to know your verdict. It’s important for me to know how you feel about the movie.
I’m surprised you didn’t ….when I got on the phone with Karl [Urban], the first thing he wanted to talk about was the video blog that he watched on the site which had my reaction with Peter from Slashfilm. We did like a 10-minute video blog.
CHO: I don’t want any bad news or potential bad news, that’s why I avoid.
We both loved the movie, so you should really watch it.
CHO: “You should really watch it”? Okay I want to watch it.
You have nothing to worry about, the movie’s fantastic. Well at least for me.
CHO: Thank you. Cool, cool, cool.
So jumping into why I get to talk to you today: What the hell has the last few days been like for you, especially because you guys have been doing, like, non-stop press.
CHO: I just started myself, I had some family issues, so I’m just starting and I couldn’t join them in Europe, but I’ve just been starting and so far it’s been really gratifying. I thought that maybe this would be a little bit harder of a hill to climb – and I think it has, just because of the expectations were high. You know, I think we had the benefit of surprising people last time, but I think the movie is deep and it’s wide and it’s good.
I agree with you. In the first film, you proved you could play the character – that you could pull off Sulu. So what was it like for you, sort of going back into the sequel – were you a little bit nervous about playing him again? Or were you like, “I’ve done it, I can play this again”?
CHO: It felt a little bit more comfortable. I think it’s like going on to a new set or a new movie – is for me, reminded me of going to a new school, you know? – and having to meet all your classmates and get acquainted with everyone and there’s all of that whenever you’re with a new bunch of people. But this time I was a little bit more relaxed and we just sort of went back into it. It probably helped because we were wearing the same clothes and we were on the same set, you know? But yeah, there was a little bit of “We don’t have to worry about that again” and it was really more focusing on the story.
As an actor, what did you do for the sequel in terms of preparing for the role – versus, say the first film – or do you have a process that you follow for all your roles.
CHO: It’s not particularly complicated and it’s not particularly magical, you know? I read the script and if there’s an issue getting – if I feel like “this is going to be a hard moment to reach” or “this could be a difficult physical moment to do” then you learn it and it’s just kind of moment-to-moment problem-solving like anyone does. And in this one there was no fight scene, it was more internal, but acting in front of a green screen does present its challenges.
100%. Were you a little – because you mention you don’t have a fight scene in the sequel – were you a little disappointed about that? Because you do have a pretty cool moment – I don’t want to reveal it is. So were you happy with the moment with the moment you had, or were you sort of like, “I could’ve done another fight scene, guys.”
CHO: Honestly this is gonna sound blow-hardy but I don’t really think about myself that much. It’s an ensemble piece and I really – I couldn’t be more honest here – I’m just happy to be associated with this kind of quality storytelling. My reaction after seeing the first one and my reaction after seeing this one are the same, which is “I can’t believe I’m in this movie,” because it’s something I would … that I know I’m going ga-ga for now and if I weren’t in it I would go ga-ga for it, and 12-year-old me would’ve gone ga-ga for it. It’s a special kind of privilege.
CHO: I’m so glad to hear you say that. It’s something that I … I think it – to me – it checks off all the boxes: it’s fun, it’s got a wide-sweeping story, it takes you somewhere else, and it also gives you something to think about, something that’s relevant. It says something about the world in which we live at the moment.
When you think about the first film, I’m sure that you remember certain days on set vividly or certain memories. What do you remember most about filming the sequel? Is there a day on set when someone really fucked up or just a certain… you know what I mean?
CHO: I guess, you know, the… it was… the days when we’re shooting the stuff on the bridge – when we’re all together – is really special to me, when we’re all collected. Often actually that doesn’t happen with a cast. You just don’t get to be together much and so the time on the bridge, I look back with fondness, it’s like… you know we go off and do different scenes and then the movie ends and we go off and live our lives and the time we’re on the bridge all together during those down moments is what I’ll remember the most probably.
Hypothetically speaking, have you borrowed anything from set that may or not be in your house.
CHO: Hypothetically speaking, there might be something that I wore on my chest that may or may not be in my house.
Do they know that you have it, or was it a gift?
CHO: They know. They “wink wink” don’t know.
CHO: I wouldn’t dare. You know, those things get locked up and honestly I think some of these costumes – they are put into exhibits. This is almost like – to me anyway, it’s almost like Fonzie and Shaggy are going to the Smithsonian and I wouldn’t dare ask for it. I know people will want to look at it.
What was the thing that you filmed on the first day? I know you did bridge stuff, do you remember exactly what you did on the first day and do you remember being a little bit extra-nervous?
CHO: I believe it was – and my memory was jogged by Simon this morning and I remember it now – it was a scene where – and I don’t think it’s in the movie – it’s immediately following the scene at the beginning where Kirk breaks the Prime Directive, and it was him making up a fake captain’s log. It was a perfect way to start off the movie because it’s a scene that it’s in every … you know, Kirk speaking into the captain’s log is a scene that’s in every episode of Star Trek. It’s not like we christened the movie.
I’m a little disappointed, hopefully that’ll be a deleted scene that they put back in.
CHO: I hope so.
Jumping into a few other things, what has it been like doing Go On this season?
CHO: It was fun. I like that guy, Matthew Perry, a lot. He was Chandler on Friends, I don’t know if you know.
CHO: Well anyway he played a guy named Chandler Bing on it and he’s very funny. He’s sort of my comedy Yoda. I’ve just been stealing from him all my life and so it was weird to actually work with him and there were moments where I felt like I was inadvertently doing a Matthew Perry imitation to Matthew Perry and occasionally making Matthew Perry laugh at my inadvertent Matthew Perry imitation. So it gets weird.
People really like him and obviously people love Friends. I would imagine when you’re filming that, you have a lot of “real friends” that want to come by and just say “hi.”
CHO: I guess. I mean he is… it is weird I’ve….although I’ll tell you a quick… we were outside at Universal where we shoot and somebody came by and said – Matthew and I were talking – and said “Oh my God, can I have a picture Harold?”
CHO: He walked away and Matthew said – Matthew jokingly of course said, “What is the matter with that guy?” But it is definitely weird working with… Oh! You know, he and I went and snuck on to the Universal lot – Universal Studios – and we rode the Transformers ride and we just cut ahead in the line and we rode with some people who were very weirded out to be riding the Transformers ride with Chandler and Sulu. They were like “What is happening here? Worlds are colliding!”
CHO: I don’t know. You don’t know because I don’t know because no one knows.
Yeah, this is the week that everyone finds out stuff, isn’t it?
CHO: Yeah, I also did a guest spot on a really interesting pilot called Sleepy Hollow that Kurtzman and Orci wrote, so look for that. It’s a reimagining of Sleepy Hollow.
No, I actually was going to ask you about that. You worked with Len Wiseman.
CHO: Yes, yeah reunited with him.
Yeah, I was gonna say, with that… so that’s a pilot?
CHO: That was a pilot.
So were you one of the leads on the pilot?
CHO: No, I’m not and you know, as with all things Kurtzman and Orci and Abrams and Lindelof, nothing can be said.
Right. That’s funny.
CHO: But I am in it and I may be in it more and I may not be in it more.
I understand. So basically you’re saying that you might have something on TV next year.
CHO: Maybe I’m saying that and maybe I’m not. Don’t argue with me.
I completely understand. I will not. I am actually a huge fan of the secrecy surrounding J.J. Abrams’ projects because I do think too much gets spoiled nowadays.
CHO: I also think he comes from a really genuine place of him being protective of the audience. He wants people to have the maximum experience going in so that… if you know two or three things, they may be correct, they may not be correct and you don’t want to be anticipating anything. So he’s just a very careful storyteller that way and it comes from an enthusiastic place.
When I put online… when I put on Twitter and Facebook today that I was going to be talking to you, there was a large volume of people who demanded I find out what’s the story with future Harold and Kumar stuff. So here is me saying: what’s the future of Harold and Kumar stuff?
CHO: Right now there’s a deal that was struck for an animated show on Adult Swim and to my knowledge they’re writing episode one at the moment. They have written the pilot and are writing episode one so as soon as I get the details you literally will be the first to know.
CHO: I’ll just say about Get a Job, I took a cameo in that but I will say that it stars Bryan Cranston and it’s my … I said this on Total Recall on set through Len and I’ll say it to you: It’s my career goal to have as many pages on IMDb with Bryan Cranston as possible.
That’s not a bad way to go, the guy’s a… he’s a talented actor.
CHO: I go where the goods are.
I understand. Listen, know you gotta go but when you find out more about that animated series let me know. But for real man, watch the video blog, you’ll like it and congrats on the movie, it’s really, really fucking good.
CHO: Thanks, brother.
Cool, have a great night.