If Game of Thrones characters were Asian and Pacific Islander

Game of Thrones finally returned to HBO on Sunday, and as an avid fantasy buff, I am ecstatic to see more of Season 6. As an Asian American, however, I find it a little disappointing to see so few Asian faces in the high fantasy genre. Most fantasy shows take place in a medieval setting or borrow from European lore, so it’s very rare to see an Asian knight charging into battle unless it’s a period piece set in Asia. (Let’s face it, Marco Polo is so historically inaccurate that it might as well be considered fantasy.)

Even when a character is written as Asian, Hollywood has a longstanding practice of casting white actors to portray Asian characters (Emma Stone, Aloha) or rewriting the part for racial erasure (Tom Cruise, Edge of Tomorrow). We have yet to see if the casting of Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell is a form of yellowface or whitewashing; either way, it’s another missed opportunity to see an Asian actor in a leading role.

So, in hopes of proving to Hollywood that there are talented and bankable Asian actors who can take on epic roles, I’ve decided to recast some characters from GoT as Asians. For the purpose of this exercise, GoT cast members who are of Asian descent—Indira Varma, Jessica Henwick, and Jason Momoa—have not been included in this list. Let’s begin!
[tab title=”Daenerys”]
Gemma Chan as Daenerys Targaryen

Photo: Camera Press
Photo: Camera Press

With her striking looks and commanding presence, Gemma Chan is more than capable of portraying the Mother of Dragons. Since last year, the Chinese British actress has garnered highly praises for her nuanced performance as a synth in AMC’s sci-fi drama Humans. You may also recognize Chan from her guest appearances in the hit BBC shows Doctor Who and Sherlock.
[tab title=”Cersei”]
Lucy Liu as Cersei Lannister

Photo: Kill Bill Vol.1
Photo: Kill Bill Vol.1

 It takes an exceptional actress to play a cruel yet vulnerable villain like Cersei Lannister, and as one of the few leading Asian American ladies in film and television, Lucy Liu has the talent to take on the challenge. The New Yorker continues to break gender and racial stereotypes with her portrayal of Joan Watson in CBS’s Elementary and has proved that she can pull off fierce villains like O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill and Ling Woo in Ally McBeal. With her experience, poise and charisma, Liu has all the makings of a mean queen.
[tab title=”Jaime”]
Daniel Wu as Jaime Lannister

Photo: Vanity Fair
Photo: Vanity Fair

Into the Badlands hero Wu is no novice when it comes to wielding a sword. The California native rose to stardom as an action star in Hong Kong under the mentorship of Jackie Chan. Over the course of his sixty-plus films career, Wu has been featured in martial arts films, romantic comedies, thrillers and art-house films. His wide acting range would be a perfect asset in portraying the morally ambiguous (and handsome) Jaime Lannister.
[tab title=”Joffrey”]

Justin Chon as Joffrey Baratheon

Photo: Soompi
Photo: Soompi

King Joffrey is a cruel, sociopathic and spoiled brat that everyone loves to hate, and Chon knows how to play a petulant man-child, thanks to his experience on comedies like Man Up, 21 & Over and the Ktown Cowboys web series. The Twilight star has also branched out to more dramatic roles, including Andy Lau’s gangster flick Revenge of the Green Dragons and the upcoming action-thriller Like Lambs.
[tab title=”Petyr”]

Naveen Andrews as Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger)

Photo: ABC

Andrews, a British-born actor of Indian descent, first rose to fame in Hollywood after starring as Sayid in the hit 2004 series Lost. Although Andrew’s tenure in ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland was cut short, his performance as Jafar confirms that he has the charm (and posh accent) to play a suave but ruthless manipulator like Littlefinger.

[tab title=”Varys”]
C.S. Lee as Varys

Photo by Ryan McVay

Yes, Lee is bald, but it’s his solid foundation in theatre and lengthy experience as a television actor that makes him a good match for Varys, the royal spymaster. Lee is best known for his portrayal of the forensics analyst Vince Masuka in DEXTER and has been featured in several high-profile shows, including Chuck, True Detective and Fresh Off the Boat.
[tab title=”Arya”]

Krista Marie Yu as Arya Stark

Photo by Shanna Fisher

Yu currently stars as Ken Jeong’s rebellious and quick-witted daughter, Molly, in ABC’s Dr. Ken—a role that could serve as groundwork to play the snarky and independent Arya Stark.
[tab title=”Sandor”]

Dante Basco as Sandor Clegane (The Hound)

Photo by Craig Stubing/Haikus with Hotties

 The Filipino American is already famous for voicing Zuko, a brooding Fire prince with a facial burn scar, so it’s not much of a stretch for him to play The Hound. Basco has also dabbled in sword-fighting thanks to his breakout role as Rufio, the cocky alpha-male leader of the Lost Boys, in Spielberg’s Hook. With his killer scowl, Basco could easily channel The Hound’s cynicism and aggressive warrior spirit.
[tab title=”Sansa”]

Arden Cho as Sansa Stark

Photo: Jackfroot
Photo: Jackfroot

The Teen Wolf star certainly has the beauty to play Sansa Stark with her doe eyes and sweet smile. More importantly, Cho has the ability to project Sansa’s vulnerability, resilience and quiet tenacity since the actress herself was once a target of bullying in her adolescence.

[tab title=”Ramsay”]
Randall Park as Ramsay Bolton

Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

At first glance, the Fresh Off the Boat star may seem too goofy to play the sadistic bastard (sorry, former bastard). However, Park has already played a real-life villain as Kim Jong-un in Seth Rogen’s satirical comedy The Interview. Ramsay Bolton might be the most despicable villain in GoT, but he is playful enough to crack jokes and quips at the people he’s torturing. Park’s broad smile would work as a great facade to Ramsay’s psychopathic ways.
[tab title=”Theon”]

Teo Yoo as Theon Greyjoy

Photo: Seoul Searching
Photo: Seoul Searching

 Having been classically trained at New York and London, the dashing German-born Korean actor has the craft to transform himself from the narcissistic, philandering Theon to the traumatized and deformed Reek. Yoo’s most recent screen credits include Equals, Bitcoins Heist and the Sundance coming-of-age film Seoul Searching.
[tab title=”Brienne”]

Frankie Adams as Brienne of Tarth

Photo: danielabraham.com
Photo: danielabraham.com

An amateur boxer standing at six feet tall, Frankie Adams not only has the physical stature to play Brienne but also the acting chops. The Samoan Kiwi made her acting debut at age sixteen in New Zealand’s top medical series Shortland Street and recently landed the series regular role of Bobbie Draper, a tough Martian solider, in SyFy’s space opera The Expanse.
[tab title=”Jon”]

John Cho as Jon Snow

Photo: Angry Asian Man
Photo: Angry Asian Man

Sure, the Korean American may not be the right age to play Jon Snow, but you have to admit, “You know nothing, John Cho” has a nice ring to it. Cho, who exudes confidence and leading man quality, would be a great fit as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, especially since he’s already played a capable commander in the Star Trek films.

[tab title=”Margaery”]

Jessika Van as Margaery Tyrell

Photo: CBS/Rush Hour

Gorgeous with a mischievous smile and sultry lilt in her voice, Van would make a lovely Margery Tyrell—a young queen whose beauty is only rivaled by her shrewdness. The Taiwanese American actress first broke into Hollywood as Becca, the sly ringleader of an Asian clique, in MTV’s teen comedy Awkward, and later starred as the sensual Grace Park in Benson Lee’s Seoul Searching.
[tab title=”Tommen”]

Ryan Potter as Tommen Baratheon

Photo: Ryan Potter
Photo: Ryan Potter

As a former Nickelodeon star and the voice of Hiro Hamada in Disney’s Big Hero 6, Potter carries a friendly and good-natured demeanor—a vital trait in channeling Tommen Baratheon, the kind-hearted but easily manipulated boy-king of Westeros.
[tab title=”Jorah”]

Daniel Dae Kim as Jorah Mormont

Photo: 3AD
Photo: 3AD

DDK has a knack for playing noble but flawed characters, including Jin-Soo Kwon in Lost and Chin Ho Kelly in Hawaii Five-0, and is well suited for Jorah Mormont, an exiled knight obsessively loyal to a queen he betrayed. There’s no doubt the Korean American would bring gravitas to the role with his intelligence and eloquence. Just imagine DDK’s bass voice saying “Khaleesi.”
[tab title=”Daario”]

Manish Dayal as Daario Naharis


As Daenerys’ roguish protector and lover, Dayal would make audiences swoon with his smoldering brown eyes and easy-going smile. The handsome Indian American actor starred opposite Helen Mirren in The Hundred-Foot Journey and is best known in television for his recurring role as Raj Kher in CW’s 90210.
[tab title=”Melisandre”]

Maggie Q as Melisandre (Red Priestess)

Photo: CW/Nikita
Photo: CW/Nikita

(Photo: Nikita poster)

 Maggie Q has a reputation for playing sexy, lethal characters with enigmatic pasts. The Nikita starlet has a her natural grace and intensity to deliver a terrifying performance as Melisandre, the Red Priestess.

[tab title=”Oberyn”]

Daniel Henney as Oberyn Martell

Photo: FayesVision/WENN
Photo: FayesVision/WENN

Handsome, athletic, charismatic, and with a great sense of humor to boot—Henney would make one hell of an Oberyn. The Korean American model-turned-actor has a large international following, much like the fan-favorite Dorne prince. After crossing over to Hollywood with X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Big Hero 6, Henney is currently a series regular on CBS’ Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.
[tab title=”Tyrion”]

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

Photo: HBO
Photo: HBO

Dinklage was George R.R. Martin and the GoT showrunners’ first and only choice for the role of Tyrion, and rightfully.  I can’t think of any actor who could equal Dinklage’s performance as the brilliant, sharp-tongued Lannister dwarf. With that said, I think we’re allowed at least one white actor on this list—you know, for the sake of diversity.


Reera Yoo is a former editor of KoreAm Journal and current contributor to Kollaboration.org (where she was also a past editor). She is a Ravenclaw, writer, filmmaker and K-pop enthusiast. Follow her on twitter @reeraboo
Cover image via South by Southwest

The Fu Launches New Puppet Web Series ‘The FuZees’

Kollaboration Atlanta alums Jacob and Josh Fu, also known as The Fu, are no rookies when it comes to creating original songs and sketches for YouTube. However, the brothers are entering uncharted territory with their newly launched kids web series, The FuZees.

Similar to Sesame Streets, The FuZees is a weekly puppet web series that teaches children, ages 3-5, about social and behavioral issues through music, art and dance. Each episode is about 10 minutes long and features puppet avatars of the Fu brothers, who tackle the episode’s highlighted issue or theme with the help of a YouTube guest.

The pilot, which aired last Saturday, Nov. 8, featured Jen (From Head to Toe) as its first guest and focused on the issue of identity.

According to The Fu, the idea for the show stemmed from the brothers’ 2011 cover of “Man or Muppet,” an Academy Award-winning song from the musical film The Muppets. The Fu had built homemade puppets for the cover music video and since then had a kids puppet show on the back of their minds. But, they had no idea where to start.

“We had a desire and love for puppets in general but we had no background in what it would take to actually control and make the puppets,” Josh told New Media Rockstars (NMR). “We basically learned from scratch what we needed to do.”

It wasn’t until earlier this year that the brothers were able to find the right production team and puppeteers to help them bring their vision to life. They were also able to film the entire series at the YouTube Space L.A. for free, thanks to their 100,000 plus subscribers on their main channel, The Fu Music.

“We chose YouTube to be the place to put the show because we’ve been on it for a while,” said Josh. “We love the community aspect and the interactive aspect and we really wanted to take advantage of that.”

The Fu also said they decided to release The FuZees exclusively on YouTube because they wanted to create a show that was classy and solid in terms of music, set design, scripts and guests since there’s very few high-quality children’s content tailored for YouTube that is not taken from television.

“We’re really open to seeing what’s going to work with kids and we’ll definitely test stuff out,” Jacob told NMR. “We want to be able to introduce them to what the world of YouTube will look like as they get older.”

You can learn more about the making of The FuZees by watching the behind-the-scenes videos below!

The first season of The FuZees will have 16 episodes and will air every week on Saturday mornings. Follow the show on Facebook and twitter

Cary Fukunaga Wins an Emmy for ‘True Detective’

Cary Fukunaga took home his very first Emmy for his work on True Detective last night and possibly became the first Asian American to win an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, or for any kind of directing at all for that matter.

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Harry Shum Jr. Cast in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ Sequel

Glee star Harry Shum Jr. joins the cast of the sequel to the legendary martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

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The Bamboo Ceiling—Is It Finally Broken?

Asian Americans have made tremendous progress over these past few years, from Obama doubling the number of Asian American federal judges to Kevin Tsujihara becoming the CEO of Warner Bros.  So, one has to ask, “Is the bamboo ceiling finally broken?”

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Wong Fu Productions Announces Principal Cast for Their First Movie

After crowd-funding over $300,000 and 3 months of intense pre-production planning, Wong Fu has finally announced the start of their principal photography and revealed the principal cast for their first feature film.

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Steven Yeun to Star in Movie Adaptation of ‘The Aquariums of Pyongyang’

Steven Yeun of ‘The Walking Dead’ will be executive producing and starring as a North Korean defector in a film adaptation of Kang Chol Hwan’s memoir ‘The Aquariums of Pyongyang.’

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‘Crush the Skull’ Launches Kickstarter for Feature Film

Love horror films?  Paranoid that one day you’ll be murdered by a serial killer?  Well, good news!  Filmmakers Viet Ngyuen and Christopher Dinh are making a feature-length version of their famed YouTube, comedy-horror short Crush the Skull.

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ABC Orders ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ to Series

After some fierce negotiations, ABC has finally closed a deal with 20th Century Fox TV and picked up the single-camera comedy Fresh Off the Boat.  This is a big day for the Asian American entertainment world since the last AA family comedy to air on network prime-time TV was Margaret Cho‘s All American Girl, which aired 20 years ago and got cancelled after only 19 episodes.

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