Times are changing, but in Hollywood much of the old remains the same.
In an interview with Korean website Dalian via Nextshark, South Korean film star Lee Byung-hun dished on how his Hollywood career has come with a side of not-so-subtle racism.
Actor Lee Byung-hun attends the 2016 LACMA Art + Film Gala honoring Robert Irwin and Kathryn Bigelow presented by Gucci at LACMA on October 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
"Hollywood really has not changed that much. I went to a local coffee shop [in America] for a cup of coffee and a barista who was working there approached me and asked, ‘Are you a movie star?’ At the time, I was beaming with pride that I was finally getting acknowledged for my movie roles. But unexpectedly, he then told me that he enjoyed the movie ‘Hangover.' It was that moment when I realized that we Asians all looked alike to [white people],” Lee said in the interview, which was translated on Reddit by Redditor Hangryforpeace.
Lee went on to recall moments of racism he experienced on set.
“I do not want to name any individual names, but I felt like when I was working in Hollywood, there were some fellow colleagues of mine who didn’t even look me in the eyes because I was Asian. I tried to [introduce myself] and shake their hands, but they would all ignore me and walk past me. I couldn’t shake their hands until we had finished filming the movie.”
Despite wanting to confront his racist costars, Lee said he was unable to at the time because of "cultural and language barriers" he had yet to overcome.
"I felt like when I was working in Hollywood, there were some fellow colleagues of mine who didn’t even look me in the eyes because I was Asian."
Fortunately, the bad experiences haven't left a sour taste in his mouth. "I haven’t given up on Hollywood yet, I still want to [make movies there] and fight for [more Hollywood representation],” he said.
Lee has starred in countless films around the world. You may recognize him from American films like "G.I. Joe," "Red 2" and "Terminator Genisys." He most recently starred in "The Magnificent Seven" alongside Chris Pratt and Danzel Washington.
While promoting the film, Lee said: "It was great to be able to play a hero in 'The Magnificent Seven' in a film industry where Asian actors are often limited to playing a villain."
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