It just seemed hedonistic when I first started acting. It was a pleasurable thing. But as I look back on it now, I understand that it was a journey of the self for me.
There was a while where every role I was getting offered was extremely noble - like the judge or the kindly nurse.
I've thought for years, sometimes against my will, about what kind of son I'm supposed to be, what's expected. Being Korean, that's a particularly charged question. Is your duty to your culture or to your parent? Is your life your own, or the second half of your parents' life? Who owns your life?
I've found it to be true that sometimes a stranger can give you advice that stays with you, utter truths the closest people in your life have trouble saying.
I don't like when an Asian-American actor says, 'I'm entering this business to change Hollywood.' It feels like the wrong reason - I would prefer they entered the business for artistic reasons, because they need to do it.
I write, and I sing, and I play a little guitar. I mean, it's tiny. Ba-dump-bum!
I try to take roles that don't fall within the parameters of any Asian stereotype.
The goal of Asians in the arts is plurality of roles. I've always been hindered by me over-thinking what is a stereotype and what isn't.
When I saw 'My Fair Lady,' I was surprised at how mean and misogynistic Henry was. Maybe that's why it's dropping out of public consciousness.
I got sort of sick of seeing Asians being the blank, bland real estate agent or something. I didn't care. It didn't mean anything to me.
Even though there's a lot of horror from Asia in the American cinematic tradition, I hadn't seen Asians at the center of it.
When you get something off the ground, it's fantastic, and you feel really close to that group of people.
You know, I always root for the older athlete. I root for the second album. I root for solo careers after the rock star breaks the band apart.
Movies may be as close to a document of our national culture as there is; they're supposed to represent what we believe ourselves to be. So when you don't see yourself at all - or see yourself erased - that hurts.
When you're not born in this country, you kind of study how people talk and how they act, and you try and break things down.
For a while, I was feeling like I was always playing characters that weren't specifically Korean or specifically Asian, even - that they were characters who were originally written white, and then they would cast me. And I used to consider that a badge of honor because that meant I had avoided stereotypes.
I think about John Lennon all the time. What would John Lennon do? What would John Lennon say if he got this part? How would he act? I don't know, but he's my moral barometer.
There's only so much I can do to effect change - and really, the thing that I can do that's most effective is to work and to do good work. That, I feel, is speaking out in its own way.
What was exciting to me in talking to Kogonada was I was just very convinced that he was a very real and pure artist. He was so uninterested in the commercial game.
Part of my mission as an actor has been to define what an American is.
The key to doing 'Harold and Kumar' movies is you make it earnest. Primarily what we do is make Harold and Kumar's relationship and friendship believable, and we don't actually work on being that funny.
My wife and I were worried, when we had our firstborn, about how he was going to think of himself in a mostly white neighborhood. Particularly Asian men, I feel, we suffer more than Asian women, because we're told we're not worth anything in general.
Ninety per cent of being a parent is just being present and available.
I'm not an activist, I'm an actor. I don't want to be an activist.
I'm not a natural-born actor. So it's been a very slow learning curve for me.
Asians narratively in shows are insignificant. They're the cop or the waitress or whatever it is. You see them in the background.
I have an affinity for comedy because I like to watch them. It's an honor to make comedies because I love being able to pop something into the DVD player and laugh. I love doing it.
Actors are supposed to be these runaways that get in a covered wagon filled with hats and tambourines and go from town to town making people smile.
I've had an unusual career in that I've never had a big break, but the rent always seemed to get paid.
I'm not a good improv-er, which is what a lot of comedic actors are really good at. I have failed miserably when I've been asked to improvise.
One of the things I like about comedy in general is that it affords Asian Americans the opportunity to not be noble.
I wanted to explore Korean-American characters. And 'Columbus' did address that. The father-son dynamic felt very real to me.
When I started acting... the community was largely Chinese-American or Japanese-American, so even then I felt like a minority in the minority.
It's so funny that Hollywood has become so entrenched in its formulas. Because what I've experienced is that the good stuff comes from places you don't expect.
For me, the most interesting thing is longevity and sustaining a career, because that's what's truly difficult.
I've been called a funny person for a long time. I don't know that I know anything about comedic acting.
I had a stereotype in my mind of what a 'Star Trek' fans is, but I couldn't have been more wrong.
As long as the rent's getting paid, you don't think about getting out of the game.
That's what it is: a 'Harold & Kumar' movie is a romance between two best friends.
With 'The Exorcist,' a lot of things went into it. I hadn't seen the show until they asked me, and then I checked the show out and thought it was very well done.