Recently, Netflix‘s Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series cast its four leads, with Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka, and Dallas Liu as Zuko.
Now, three more major roles have been cast. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Kim’s Convenience) will be playing Uncle Iroh, the tea-loving, wise father figure of Zuko. Ken Leung (Saw) will be playing Commander Zhao, an ambitious Fire Nation military officer who’s a major enemy of the protagonists. And, Singapore’s Lim Kay Siu (Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd) will be playing Gyatso, an Air Nomad who mentored Aang before the Fire Nation attacked, whom Aang described as the greatest airbender of his time.
The casting of Lim comes as a pleasant surprise for Singaporeans who are used to seeing the actor in local productions. Most notably, Lim played Frankie Foo, the rival of Phua Chu Kang, played by Gurmit Singh, in the quintessentially Singaporean sitcom, Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd.
Also, the casting of Lee as Uncle Iroh is fitting, as the character has a comedic bent that Lee has proven to be more than capable of pulling off, especially in his previous role as Appa in the Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience.
The original animated series was a watershed moment for the quality of cartoons that appeal to audiences of all ages. It is both commercially successful and critically acclaimed, winning multiple Annie Awards, Genesis Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and a Peabody Award.
As a live-action adaptation of a modern-day classic, it starts out right by trying to establish a new benchmark in the representation of Asian and Indigenous characters. This is relevant as the animated series took many cues from both Asian and Indigenous cultures. This is an adaptation that fans will be keeping their eyes peeled for.