Mako

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  • Trivia

    • Mako was the stage director for The Fisher King, The Music Lessons, and F.O.B. (Fresh Off the Boat).

    • He has written plays including There's No Place Like a Tired Ghost and Christmas in Camp.

    • Mako was married to Shzuko Hoshi.

    • The day before Mako died, he was cast to voice Splinter in the CGI Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The finished movie was dedicated to Mako.

    • He was once a member of the actor's branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    • He is often known for his raspy and thick-accented voice.

    • In 1976 the Broadway production of Pacific Overtures was brought intact to Los Angeles including the cast. Three years later Mako re-staged the show at the East/West Players. The original production was done in Kabuki, all roles played by men. Mako re-imagined the show by not paying attention to gender and casting women in men's roles and men in women's roles. This production received unanimous rave reviews.

    • Mako appeared with Dante Basco twice before lending his voice to Avatar: The Last Airbender. The first movie was The Perfect Weapon in which Mako's character takes in an orphan played by Dante Basco. Ironically, this is not far removed from Iroh's relationship to Zuko on Avatar: The Last Airbender. The second movie is a made-for-television flick entitled Riot made in 1997 about the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. Not only do both actors appear in the same segment, but both actors are also residents of Los Angeles where the movie is set.

    • Greg Baldwin took Mako's place as Iroh on Avatar: The Last Airbender after he died.

    • Because of Mako's death, there was a tribute in honor of him during the 79th Annual Academy Awards in 2007.

    • Mako studied theater at the Pasadena Playhouse.

    • Mako first discovered his theatrical talent during military service.

    • When Mako first came to the United States, he studied architecture.

    • Mako was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, which was for Pacific Overtures.

    • During an Avatar: The Last Airbender episode, titled The Tales of Ba Sing Se, which consist of several small stories about the main characters, there is a segment titled, "The Tale of Iroh." It features a dedication to Mako at the end of his clip.

    • Mako's first cinema role was in the 1959 film Never So Few.

    • Mako voiced Commander Shima in the video game Medal of Honor: Rising Sun.

    • In 1994, Mako had received a motion picture star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7095 Hollywood Blvd.

    • In the months before Mako's death, he was preparing to appear with his wife in an East West production of the comedy "Motty Chon." Instead of recasting the part, the company, out of respect, canceled the production.

    • Mako was frequently cast by Chuck Norris.

    • The day before Mako died, he was cast to voice Splinter in next year's CGI Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

    • Mako passed away at the age of 72 from esophageal cancer on July 21, 2006 at his home in the Ventura County town of Somis.

    • Mako appeared in M*A*S*H four different times, in four different seasons, as four different characters.

    • Mako had two daughters with his wife, named Sala and Mimosa.

    • Mako became a naturalized citizen in 1956.

  • Quotes

    • Mako: (Referring to the company of actors at East West) Ninety-nine percent of us are born and raised here, so sometimes we feel a lot closer to Western than Eastern culture. We do those plays to show that we, too, can accommodate the work, give audiences a chance to see us in untraditional roles.

    • Mako: In the middle of the world we float, in the middle of the sea. The realities remain remote in the middle of the sea.

    • Mako: (On working with Sondheim) Maybe because I was a non-musical person, he gave me a special leeway. He spoke to me without any arrogance or attitude. He was trying to be the best teacher he could be and I tried to be the best student. I respected him tremendously.

    • Mako: (On Japanese theater) Yes, I had seen Kabuki and Noh a number of times back in Japan, so I drew on my memory of it to help create the Reciter's role. In Kabuki, there is a "naga uta," who is in essence a reciter. He basically explains the dances and sings and chants. And in Noh theater, the actors seldom talk, so there is a "gidayu," who explains the story and fills the gaps. What we did with the Reciter's role was a combination of the two.

    • Mako: (On his work with Hal Prince) Very easy. He trusted me and I trusted him. Even though John Weidman wrote it, Hal said, "We're approaching this show as if a Japanese writer wrote it." I said, "If I see a problem, can I bring it up to you?" He said, "By all means."

    • Mako: It was a legit play at first, so Hal Prince held auditions in '73, '74. About a year later, I heard it was going to be turned into a musical. I'm not really a trained singer and I had never done a musical, but when I auditioned, I did "Ol' Man River."

    • Mako: I came to America to become an architect. And somewhere along the line while I was still in school, I was lured into theater, and that's how I became interested in theater. My first play was something called "A Banquet for the Moon." It was a weird play.

    • Mako: I was a very happy child, so to speak. But, since we didn't have video games or television, and very little radio, in terms of a form of entertainment, I used to read a lot and I would draw a lot, and those two things used to occupy my time.

    • Mako: I had no idea how difficult Sondheim's music would be. All through the rehearsals, I kept flubbing. There were so many tempo changes. I could never get through the opening number without any mistakes. One day, I went up to Hal Prince and offered to leave the show. He laughed it off. He said, "Don't be silly. That's why we have tryouts."

    • Mako: I remember we went to the Tony Awards to do a number from the show and we got there by bus. But after the show, we had to walk back to the Winter Garden to get out of our costumes. As we were walking, and some of us were in Kabuki makeup, some of the people on the street were yelling, "Hey, why don't you all go back to China?" On the one hand, we felt we were making progress in the theater, but socially we were getting comments like that.

    • Mako: No matter what happens, we couldn't let people say Asian-American actors can't act.

    • Mako: (referring to "Pacific Overtures") It's one of the highlights I cherish most. It altered my view of musicals and expanded my idea of theater.

    • Mako: I was going to refuse the Tony. Why? Asian-American actors have never been treated as full-time actors. We're always hired as part-timers. That is, (producers) call us when they need us (for only race-specific roles).

    • Mako: (referring to "Pacific Overtures") It's one of the highlights I cherish most. It altered my view of musicals and expanded my idea of theater.

    • Mako: we already knew most of the major awards had gone to A Chorus Line. I was really furious at how we were neglected. Before we went on stage, I said to the cast, "Well, the verdict has been handed out. Does that mean we're losers? Hell, no! We're gonna give it our best, so get your butts in gear!" And we did.

    • Mako: (On the barriers that Asian-American actors have to face in Hollywood): I go into a young film director's office these days and he says, 'Hey man, I know who you are. I grew up watching McHale's Navy [1962]. And I think, 'Oh boy, here we go again'.

    • Mako: Of course we've been fighting against stereotypes from Day One at East West. That's the reason we formed: to combat that, and to show we are capable of more than just fulfilling the stereotypes -- waiter, laundryman, gardener, martial artist, villain.

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