James Hong, the character actor extraordinaire, finally received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 10, 2022, according to People Magazine. It took several decades, more than 450 film and television credits, a near-miss with “Star Trek: The Original Series,” the support of a “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Enterprise” guest-star, and contributions from the actor’s fans to at long last make it a reality.
“I’m here! I’m alive!,” the Los Angeles Times quoted the 93-year-old actor as saying when he stepped to the podium to accept the 2,723rd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which the newspaper said was located between Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and the TCL Chinese Theater. Hong, according to the paper, made history as the oldest person ever to receive a star on the Walk of Fame.
Kim and Curtis at Hong’s Star Ceremony
According to Variety, actor Daniel Dae Kim initiated the effort to secure Hong’s place on the Walk of Fame. The actor is best known for his role as Jin-Soo Kwon on “Lost” and, according to the Internet Movie Database, is a producer of “The Good Doctor.” According to Memory Alpha, “Star Trek” fans will remember him as Gotana-Retz in the “Voyager” episode “Blink of an Eye” and as Corporal D. Chang in the “Enterprise” episodes “The Xindi,” “Extinction, and “Hatchery.” Variety reported that Kim launched a crowdfunding campaign in 2020 to raise the $55,000 necessary for Hong’s Star. It took four days to meet the goal. The Los Angeles Times noted that Kim then undertook the process of submitting an application. On the campaign’s GoFundMe page, the “Hawaii Five-0″ actor wrote that Hong “epitomizes the term ‘working actor,’ and that’s not even taking into account all he’s done to help further representation for actors of color.” Hong, the trade paper said, was born the son of Chinese immigrants in Minneapolis. His father moved the family back to Hong Kong when Hong was five, and the family returned to the United States several years later.
Hong’s page on the Internet Movie Database is lengthy and includes credits as an actor, producer, director, production supervisor, and more. His work as an actor dates back to an unbilled appearance in the 1954 film, “Dragonfly Squadron.” He is probably best known for his roles as Kahn the butler in “Chinatown” and “The Two Jakes,” Lo Pan in “Big Trouble in Little China,” Bruce the maître d’ in the classic “Seinfeld” episode “The Chinese Restaurant,” Master Hong in “Balls of Fury,” the voice of Chi-Fu in “Mulan,” Hannibal Chew in “Blade Runner,” Mr. Ping in the “Kung-Fu Panda” movies, and Endente in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”
The actor’s current projects, according to the Internet Movie Database, include the upcoming animated series “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai,” which will premiere on June 13, 2022, on HBO Max. He is currently represented in theaters by the hit indie film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which casts him as Gong Gong, the father of Evelyn Quan Wang, the character played by “Star Trek: Discovery” actress Michelle Yeoh. The film also stars Jamie Lee Curtis, who was among those introducing Hong at his Star ceremony. “He’s a passionate performer,” Curtis said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “He’s a hilarious presence on set. … But I also think we share a commitment to ambition, to hustle and flow… It’s about f— time that we are here honoring James Hong with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
The ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Trailer
A credit not on Hong’s filmography is “Star Trek,” but it was not for a lack of trying. He auditioned for the role of Sulu that ultimately went to George Takei, who has enjoyed a 56-year-long association with the franchise. “‘Star Trek,’ I don’t know how close,” he told Emmy TV Legends in an interview recorded for posterity. “I would like to know, but I will never know. I can only guess. ‘Star Trek,’ it certainly changed the life of George Takei. After ‘Star Trek,’ he was Sulu all the way. He attends conventions. He’s recognized for that role, although he’s done other excellent roles. George can be extremely funny, and he’s hardly had the chance to do comedy.” He then recounted working with Takei years later on an episode of “MacGyver” titled “The Wish Child.”
Hong also spoke about Takei in an interview with BladeZone, a “Blade Runner” fan club site. In the interview, the actor said that he and Takei came face to face during the audition process for Sulu. “George and I bumped into each other,” he confirmed. “He was coming out of the audition and he was just one of two candidates prior to me. And as I entered, I still remember it, I said ‘Well, what is this one, George?’ In those days we were fairly busy going to auditions. ‘Oh,’ he says, ‘just another low-budget science-fiction.’ Something like that, very casual. Of course, it was a turn of history event for him. And for all of us, really.”
Hong’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame can be found at 6931 Hollywood Blvd.