Fan Casting: Avatar: The Last Airbender
On my personal account, I created a fan casting for Avatar: the Last Airbender. It was mostly inspired by the several fan casts I have seen of the series online that mostly had white actors in these roles, instead of using actors that better reflect the ethnicity and the culture behind the series.
So for Pop GO, I wrote a post about my fan cast which includes detailed, personal explanations for each of my casting choices.
Hit the break to read my fan cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
My Avatar: The Last Airbender Fan-Cast:
Zhenwei Wang as Aang
For Aang, I needed someone who could give off the slight goofiness that Aang has, as well as being talented enough to portray the heavier parts of Aang’s personality. I came across Zhenwei in the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid, a movie that I will admit I absolutely love.
In the movie itself, Zhenwei played the rival of the main character who was a bully. While his character was not the most pleasant, he definitely proved his talent as an actor and a martial artist. Besides, anyone who sees him in public appearances will admit that he is adorable and goody, which are two main characteristics of Aang. And by playing a rude, bullying character, Zhenwei proved that he will be able to handle the tougher parts of Aang’s character such as when he goes into the Avatar State and when he fights Fire Lord Ozai. Which is something not all child actors could do.
Kelsey Chow as Katara
Originally, I wanted to find Inuit or other native Arctic people that could portray Katara and the other members of the Water Tribe, which proved to be nearly impossible due to the lack of Inuit actors and actresses. Then, I began looking at Native American and other dark-skinned actors that would be able to portray the Water Tribe people.
For Katara, Kelsey Chow instantly came to mind. I remembered her as the beautiful, tan girl from a Disney Channel Show, Pair of Kings. There she played a character who was a skilled fighter and warrior, but was also very feminine, which is perfect for Katara. Kelsey can definitely play the strong-headed, motherly Katara, while definitely doing some awesome fighting with waterbending.
Bronson Pelletier as Sokka
Handsome and dark-skinned? Check. Goofy? Check. Able to deliver great sarcastic lines? Yes. Able to play the true brains behind Team Avatar? Yes.
Bronson is someone I recognized from one of the Twilight movies (don’t judge me) and I immediately fell in love with him as Sokka. He took a character that had no personality in the original books and made him into a funny, compelling character in the movie. And if there is one thing Sokka is, it is funny and compelling. He has a natural sense of humor and charming features that would make him a great Sokka, and the sibling relationship between him and Kelsey would be great.
Wenwen Han as Toph Beifong
Wenwen was another actress I became fond of while watching The Karate Kid, and she immediately came to mind for Toph. She has that sweetness about her that would make it that much more surprising when Toph reveals herself to be the best Earthbender in the entire series.
Also, Wenwen held The Karate Kid together with her charm and talent, so I think she would make an excellent Toph.
Daniel Henney as Zuko
We are going to ignore the fact that Daniel is like 30 years old, because this is a dream cast and he is my dream Zuko. (And if actors on Glee can play teenagers, why can’t he?) I remember Daniel from X-Men Origins: Wolverine and as I continued to search for actors for Zuko, he kept coming to mind!
He just has that sultry, pouty look that I think works for Zuko and is an excellent actor. He not only could do the more damaged, inner turmoil parts of Zuko’s personality, but he could also pull off Zuko’s hopeless awkwardness.
Again, we are just going to pretend Daniel is 16. This is my dream cast after all!
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Iroh
Other than the late actor Mako, there seemed to be no actor that could portray Uncle Iroh for me, until I remembered Cary. He is a wonderful actor that has stared in action movies like Mortal Kombat to playing a laid-back Hawaiian grandfather on the Disney movie, Johnny Tsunami.
As far as I am concerned, he would be the perfect match for the wise, firebending master Iroh, while also being absolutely adorable and hilarious for all of Iroh’s funnier moments.
Daniel Dae Kim as Fire Lord Ozai
I needed someone who would be the total evil ruler of the Fire Nation while also having that charisma that made Ozai such a compelling actor. And for me, Daniel Dae Kim fits the character in all ways. For one thing, he is definitely a picture perfect image of Ozai.
From his roles on Lost and Hawaii 5-O, Daniel Dae Kim is definitely an excellent actor who could excel at the role of Fire Lord Ozai.
Malese Jow as Azula
Malese Jow is probably mostly known for her roles on Unfabulous and The Vampire Diaries, both of which show Malese’s range. It was her performance on The Vampire Diaries and The Troop that convinced me that she would make a perfect Azula.
In both of them, she played the heartbreakingly damaged monster who often sided with evil for her own selfish purposes. Malese proved that she can not only play evil, but she can also play the tortured villain, which would definitely show when Malese portrays Azula’s descent into madness.
Jamie Chung as Mai
I need a beautiful, badass Asian woman who would be able to put Zuko in his place whenever he got snippy and Jamie Chung is definitely that Mai. Over the course of her career, Jamie Chung has more than once played the pretty, popular high school girl, but she has such a broader range than that. For one thing, she is definitely an excellent choice to portray the weapons expert, Mai. Jamie is also a talented actress with great timing that would truly make the stoic, emotionless Mai come alive on screen.
Plus, her casting as Mulan on Once Upon a Time just makes this casting even better.
Brenda Song as Ty-Lee
Who better to play the adorable, perky Ty Lee than the adorable, perky Queen of the Disney Channel, Brenda Song?
Brenda definitely has excellent comedic timing and could so easily play the airhead companion of Azula. Not only does she have martial arts training from her Wendy Wu days that will definitely come in handy for playing Ty Lee, but she has also expanded her range to more adult roles which will make Ty Lee’s few deeper moments much more effective.
Q’orianka Kilcher as Princess Yue
As one of the most underrated actresses ever known, I definitely wanted to cast Q’orianka as something. Originally, I saw her as Katara, but she felt too old for the role. However, she did have an earthy, iridescent quality that would fit Yue so well. Q’orianka can definitely play the sweet Princess who wants to do everything for her people very well, which will give Yue’s transformation into the moon a lasting affect on an audience.
Not to mention her interactions with Bronson as Sokka will be both charming and romantic, which will make their goodbye so much more heartbreaking.
Avan Jogia as Jet
Avatar definitely has significant Indian influence and I wanted to cast a popular Indian actor in one of the roles. I decided to cast the heartthrob, half-Indian actor as Jet, one of the early heartthrobs of Avatar. Not only is he ridiculously handsome, but is also a very good actor that will play Jet’s final moments in a beautiful way.
Not to mention that his interactions with Kelsey as Katara would be excellent.
Hiroyuki Sanada as Avatar Roku
For Avatar Roku, I needed someone who could pull off the distinguished Japanese man look that Roku had, and Hiroyuki could definitely do it. He is mostly known from his role on The Last Samurai, which definitely influenced by decision to cast him in this role. Not only will he be able to play the wise mentor of Aang, but Hiroyuki would really excel in the scenes between him and Sozin and offer real dimension on his conflicts as the Avatar.
Lucy Liu as Avatar Kyoshi
For such a tough character like Kyoshi, I needed an actress who would not only be able to play the strong, protective Kyoshi but would also make her likeable to the audience. And Lucy Liu is definitely the actress for the job.
While she is very petite and does not look intimidating, Lucy Liu as consistently proven her ability to play strong, badass women in plenty of her action movies. She is also an extremely talented actress that will not only truly represent Kyoshi’s personality but would also be a real Avatar counterpart to Aang’s personality.
Remember these castings are entirely fan-made and simply reflect my personal choices for these characters.
[Click here for original post of the intro image above; photoshop credit: Shivvy]