Despite the state of flux and uncertainly the entertainment industry has been thrust into, many projects yet to get off the ground are still planned to go ahead, including the live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Casting is always a big conversation of such projects, and Dante Basco, who voiced the unexpectedly popular Zuko in the animated series, has now confirmed that he’s had talks with the creators about who could step into his shoes.
“I don’t know specifically who I would want to see play Zuko. All of that is dependent upon how you cast the whole gang and how the world works out. I’m just excited that Mike [DiMartino] and Bryan [Konietzko] are at the helm of it all, and we’ve had some conversations. They know I’m here as part of the family to help out in any way, and we’ll see as it gets closer how the whole cast comes together. I’m excited as much as anybody else.”
Given that many of the principal characters are required to be played by Asian teenagers with at least some degree of talent in martial arts, it’s most likely that several unknowns will end up cast in the roles, as mainstream Hollywood is not exactly awash with prominent performers who fit the bill.
Obviously, Basco can’t reprise the role as he’s at least 25 years too old to play Zuko, who’s 16 at the start of the series. However, given the show’s promise to stay faithful to the characters that each blend together various aspects of Asian cultures, as one of the few non-white actors to voice a character in the original run, he could certainly take part in a supporting or cameo role, such as Aang’s airbending master Gyatso or Katara and Sokka’s father Hakoda.
It’s clear that voicing Zuko wasn’t just another job for Basco and he holds a great deal of affection for the character, so possibly more than anyone he wants to see him brought to life in a way that stays true to who he is, glaring flaws and emerging nobility alike.
Avatar: The Last Airbender means a lot to a great many people, and avoiding the casting pitfalls and associated tacit racism of the much-maligned live-action movie is a significant first step to realizing the show’s intricate narrative and inspirations in a manner that will please both newcomers and existing fans.