Action star Donnie Yen has revealed in a new interview that he had his role in the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 4 changed after he called out its script for feeding into Asian stereotypes.
Speaking to GQ in a recent interview, Yen shared that despite being a big name with a wide acting range, his roles in Hollywood have been limited to the occasional action spot and that he has been typecast much like other Asian actors.
Speaking on his most recent incident with typecasting, Yen revealed that he had his role in John Wick: Chapter 4 altered after he noticed several Asian stereotypes attached to his character. In the upcoming film, Yen plays an assassin named Caine who was reportedly first named “Shang or Chang”.
Yen would go on to say: “Why does he always have to be called Shang or Chang? Why can’t he have a normal name? Why do you have to be so generic? Then the wardrobe again – oh, mandarin collars. Why is everything so generic? This is a John Wick movie. Everybody’s supposed to be cool and fashionable. Why can’t he look cool and fashionable?”
Yen would eventually speak to the film’s director Chad Stahelski and get the look and name of his character changed.
Before John Wick, Yen experienced the same form of typecasting in his role as Chirrut Îmwe in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. “One thing I pointed out is he was a stereotype. Typical master. Doesn’t smile,” Yen said to GQ, revealed that he suggested making the character blind and gave him a sense of humour.
John Wick: Chapter 4 stars Keanu Reeves in the titular role alongside Bill Skarsgård, Laurence Fishburne, Rina Sawayama, Scott Adkins and more. The film is set to release on March 24.