When we think Asian, we think of yummy food, brainiacs, and vibrant cultures. But there’s a lot more to them than what’s clichéd. Today, Asians have walked into Hollywood and taken it by a storm; they give us not just the smarts, but the bold and the beautiful, and not to forget, the extremely talented. Here is a list of the top 40 most famous Asian actors and actresses in Hollywood.
The Bold and the Beautiful!
Nancy Kwan was an Asian-American Actress from Hong Kong who opened the doors for Asians into the Hollywood film industry.
When it first started out with Nancy Kwan, it was generally the femme fatale and supporting cast roles that were given out. As time passed, Hollywood was flooded with movies with martial arts, featuring the likes of legends like Pat Morita, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan. Today, Asians prove that they are multifaceted when it comes to performance and role portrayals, playing intriguing characters both on the silver screen and on television. They are not just the brains and the kung fu, but also attractive, strong individuals who have made a niche for themselves not only in the US, but also in the rest of the world.
So, here is a list of some of our most beloved Asian actors and actresses who have taken over Hollywood!
TOP 20 MALE ASIAN ACTORS IN HOLLYWOOD
Born – Death: 27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973 (age 32)
Origin: Hong Kong
Description: Because if we have an Asian Actors’ list, we have to start with Bruce Lee. One of the most popular figures in martial arts, he paved the way for better portrayals of Asians in films, and is a pop icon. Movies like Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon have shown us how skilled he was, and his mastery of the art has created many fans of martial arts across the globe.
Noted Work: Fist of Fury, Enter the Dragon, Game of Death, The Big Boss, The Way of the Dragon, founder of Jeet Kune Do, The Green Hornet (TV Series).
Date of Birth: 7 April 1954
Origin: Hong Kong
Description: Another legend from China, Jackie Chan carried on where Lee left off. He was a stunt-man turned actor, who not only showed us his skills in martial arts, but also his performing abilities and comic presence. If there ever was a master you’d respect after the likes of Lee and Morita, it would be him!
Noted Work: Drunken Master 1 & 2, Dragon Fist, Police Story 1, 2 & 3, Armour of God 1 & 2, Rush Hour 1, 2 and 3, Shanghai Noon, The Accidental Spy, The Tuxedo, The Medallion, The Myth, Rob-B-Hood, The Forbidden Kingdom, Kung Fu Panda Series, Shinjuku Incident, The Karate Kid.
NORIYUKI “PAT” MORITA
Born – Died: 28 June 1932 – 24 November 2005
Description: He is an Oscar-nominated actor who brought us the original “The Karate Kid”. He is well-known for his television series Mr. T. and Tina, which was one of the first to showcase an Asian-centric storyline. His lovable visage and wise looks have won him fans amongst kids and adults alike.
Noted Work: The Karate Kid Series, Happy Days, Mr. T. and Tina, O’hara, Captive Hearts, Bloodsport II and III, Shadow Fury, Mulan II (voice), SpongeBob SquarePants.
Date of Birth: 26 April 1963
Description: Following in the footsteps of the likes of Lee and Chan, Jet Li too has starred in a number of highly popular Action and Martial Arts Movies. He is trained in Wu Bin, for which he won a championship for the Beijing Wushu Team.
Noted Work: Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die, Kiss of the Dragon, Unleashed, The Forbidden Kingdom, The Expendables Series, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Hitman, Cradle 2 the Grave, Fearless.
IAN ANTHONY DALE
Date of Birth: 3 July 1978
Origin: Japanese, French, English
Description: The hot and handsome features of Dale are hard to miss in “Surface”, “The Event” and “Hawaii Five-0”.
Noted Work: The Event, Hawaii Five-0, Surface, Mr. 3000, The Bucket List, The Hangover, Las Vegas, Charmed, CSI: NY, CSI: Miami, 24, Burn Notice, Bones, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Murder in the First, Day Break.
HARRY SHUM, JR.
Date of Birth: 28 April 1982
Description: With his adorable boy-next-door looks and quick steps, Harry has swept many a woman off her feet. He started out as a backup dancer for the likes of Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez. He then came on as a dancer in Glee, and the same in the hit movie Step Up 3D.
Noted Work: Step Up 3D, You Got Served, Stomp the Yard, Glee, White Frog.
Date of Birth: 20 July 1986
Origin: Hong Kong/Malaysia
Description: His boyish charm doesn’t go unnoticed in “Supernatural”, neither does his role in the movie 2012.
Noted Work: Cold Squad, Kung Fu Killer, Supernatural, The Troop, 2012, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, stunt work for Electronic Arts.
Date of Birth: 23 April 1977
Description: If anyone has ever made us ‘roll on the floor and laugh’, it has to have a mention for Kal Penn with his Harold and Kumar series and his role in Van Wilder. He has shown us he has a serious side too, when he took office in the White House as an Associate Director of Public Engagement
Noted Work: Harold and Kumar, Son of the Mask, A Lot Like Love, Man About Town, Superman Returns, National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj, Epic Movie, How I Met Your Mother, 24, House, as Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Date of Birth: 12 May 1979
Description: He is playful, smart, and musically talented too, and has shown us that with the different roles he has portrayed.
Noted Work: Disturbia, 21, Tomorrow People, Rocket Science, Friday the 13th, Labor Pains, Gamer, The Good Guy, A Nightmare on Elm Street, 10 Years, Kid Cannabis, The Bedford Diaries.
Date of Birth: 21 October 1959
Description: He is a man of many talents, but is most known for his fallen-hero roles for which he has gained Oscar nominations as well as Japan’s Academy Prize for Best Actor twice. And not to say too much, he is a pretty good looker for a man in his prime!
Noted Work: Letters From Iwo Jima, The Last Samurai, memories of Tomorrow, Shizumanu Taiyō, Batman Begins, Inception, Godzilla, voice for Drift in Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Date of Birth: 27 December 1974
Description: He is well-known for his portrayal of the bubbly, yet knowledgeable Dr. Max Bergman in Hawaii Five-0O, and as Hiro Nakamura in the hit series, “Heroes”. He is also a digital effects artist.
Noted Work: Scrubs, Heroes, The Promotion, Hawaii Five-O, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, Get Smart Series.
Date of Birth: 16 June 1972
Description: There could have been no Harold and Kumar without John Cho, or a FlashForward without him either. He has shown us versatility and fun, all packed in one!
Noted Work: Harold and Kumar, Yellow, Bette Luck Tomorrow, Star Trek, FlashForward, Total Recall, Off Centre, Sleepy Hollow, Selfie, American Pie Series, Identity Thief, Kitchen Confidential, American Dad, Go On.
DANIEL DAE KIM
Date of Birth: 4 August 1968
Description: His tough guy roles in both Hawaii Five-0 and Lost have won him fans worldwide. Oh, wouldn’t we love to see a lot more of him in the time to come!
Noted Work: Cradle 2 the Grave, Hulk, Spider-Man 2, Crash, The Cave, Linsanity, Hawaii Five-O, Lost, Crusade, Angel, Mismatch, 24, ER.
Date of Birth: 7 January 1969
Description: He has made us laugh and smile in Entourage and Suburgatory, and by the looks of it, he might have a lot more in store!
Noted Work: Entourage, Suburgatory, Twins, What About Brian, Zoey 101.
Date of Birth: 23 February 1983
Description: If he is not cracking us up with his roles on screen, he makes up for it with his stand-up comedies on the outside. He had shown us that fun comes in all shapes and sizes, and crosses all barriers and ages.
Noted Work: Parks and Recreation, Human Giant, Funny People, I Love You, Observe and Report, 30 Seconds or Less, host of 2010 MTV Movie Awards, Ice Age: Continental Drift, This is the End, Epic, Scrubs.
Date of Birth: 13 July 1969
Description: From the time he stepped into the limelight, he has brought us bagfuls of laughters, crazy stunts, epic portrayals, and a whole lot of fun!
Noted Work: Knocked Up, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, The Hangover Series, Despicable Me Series, All About Steve, Furry Vengeance, Vampires Suck, Zookeeper, The Muppets, Community, Burning Love.
Date of Birth: 22 August 1971
Description: When you have got smoking hot looks like Rick, you had to have been a model who couldn’t resist taking over the silver screen. But don’t let the good-looking hunk fool you; he is an Olympic-level trained Taekwondo artist!
Noted Work: Modeling for Versace and Ralph Lauren, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Olympus Has Fallen, The Man with the Iron Fists, Ninja Assassins, Die Another Day, Snow Falling on Cedars, Alias.
Date of Birth: 20 April 1937
Description: If you’ve ever been a Star Trek fan, you’d never forget the face of the USS Enterprise helmsman, Hikaru Sulu, played by Mr. Takei. He is also a strong LGBT supporter and social media enthusiast.
Noted Work: Star Trek Series, The Green Berets, Blood Oath, Oblivion, Mulan, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Strange Fame, Free Birds, It Takes a Thief, The Simpsons.
Date of Birth: 27 September 1950
Description: For decades, Tagawa has captivated and entertained us with his wide array of roles. Here’s to one of the legends!
Noted Work: Twins, License to Kill, Kickboxer 2, Showdown in Tokyo, Rising Son, Mortal Combat Series, Soldier Boyz, The Phantom, The Art of War, Planet of the Apes, Pearl Harbor, Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding, Memoirs of Geisha, Balls of Fury, Hachiko: A Dog’s Story, Tekken Series.
Date of Birth: 31 July 1966
Origin: French-Canadian, Japanese, Irish, Welsh
Description: Before there was Christopher Reeves, J.D. Cortona, and Brandon Routh, there was Dean Cain who portrayed the famous comic superhero, Superman.
Noted Work: Dark Descent, Dragon Fighter, Out of Time, Lost, September Dawn, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Clubhouse, Las Vegas, Stars Earn Stripes.
TOP 20 FEMALE ASIAN ACTORS IN HOLLYWOOD
Date of Birth: 11 May 1952
Description: She is a woman of skill who has played moving roles in “The Stoning of Soraya M.” and “House of Sand and Fog”.
Noted Work: House of Sand and Fog, The Stoning of Soraya M., The Exorcism of Emily Rose, American Dreams, the Lake House, X Men: The Last Stand, The Adjustment Bureau, Iranium, 24, Smith, House of Saddam, Grimm.
Date of Birth: 6 January 1981
Description: Noted as the first Japanese woman to be nominated for the Oscars in 50 years, Rinko has proved that skills can be a part of anyone, and cast and creed has nothing to do with it.
Noted Work: The Taste of Tea, Babel, Norwegian Wood, Pacific Rim, 47 Ronin.
Date of Birth: 20 July 1971
Description: No one is going to forget the bubbly, sentimental, and smart Dr. Christina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy for a long time to come, thanks to Sandra!
Noted Work: Dancing at the Blue Iguana, Under the Tuscan Sun, Sideways, The Proud Family, American Dad!, Grey’s Anatomy.
Date of Birth: 9 February 1979
Description: Considered one of the most bankable artists in China, she is also one of the most talented, with nominations for 3 BAFTA Awards and one Golden Globe.
Noted Work: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Rush Hour 2, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, 2046, Memoirs of Geisha, Horsemen, Dangerous Liaisons.
Date of Birth: 2 December 1968
Description: She is one of the most well-known actresses in Hollywood, be it playing one of the angels in “Charlie’s Angels” or Ling Woo in “Ally McBeal”. Once a model, she is a producer now. After all, who wouldn’t fall for that amazing smile?
Noted Work: Payback, Shanghai Noon, Charlie’s Angels Series, Kill Bill Series, Lucky Number Slevin, Kung Fu Panda, Nomads, The Trouble with Bliss, The Man with the Iron Fists, Pearl, Ally McBeal, Marry Me, Southland, Elementary.
Date of Birth: 5 December 1968
Description: She is a woman who can make us laugh and doesn’t mind being laughed at. She is a fashion designer and an LGBT rights’ activist. Here’s to a woman of substance!
Noted Work: Face Off, One Missed Call, 17 Again, All American Girl, Drop Dead Diva, 30 Rock.
Date of Birth: 6 August 1962
Description: If you were looking for someone bold and beautiful, look no further! She has acted in Oscar-nominated martial arts films, and did her own stunts, no less! To top it off, she has also been a Bond girl!
Noted Work: Tomorrow Never Dies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Executioners, Once A Cop, Memoirs of Geisha, Fearless, Babylon AD, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, True Legend, Reign of Assassins, Kung Fu Panda 2.
Date of Birth: 7 November 1973
Description: If you’ve ever been a fan of “Lost”, you have definitely been a fan of Kim’s. And who could forget the saucy Karen Kim in “Mistresses”? She has also had numerous film appearances.
Noted Work: The Legend of Gingko, Yesterday, Ardor, Seven Days, Harmony, The Neighbor, Wedding Dress Drama, Lost, Mistresses.
Date of Birth: 20 November 1963
Origin: Macau/ Asian-American
Description: She is beauty and brains personified and has had a diverse set of roles credited to her name, one of them being the adorable-yet-strong Fa Mulan in “Mulan”.
Noted Work: The Joy Luck Club, Street Fighter, One Night Stand, Mulan Series, Prom Night, Push, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, Vanished, Two and a Half Men, Stargate Universe, Eureka, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Date of Birth: 10 October 1966
Origin: China/ Asian-American
Description: She is not afraid to go against the grain and play roles that are gritty and out of the box. She is confident, strong, and undeniably beautiful.
Noted Work: The Crow, Nixon, Red Corner, Wild Wild West, Angel, The Wild Thornberrys, Shaolin Soccer, The Breed, Point of Origin, Paris, My Baby’s Daddy, Dumplings, Lords of Dogtown, Entourage, Nomad, Man About Town, Lost, Living & Dying, Toxic, A Beautiful Life, Crank: High Voltage, The Confidant.
Date of Birth: 10 August 1982
Description: She didn’t let her height impediment stop her from being the face of big names like Lancôme, Chanel, Versace, Hugo Boss, Moschino, Fendi, and Ungaro, amongst others. Her beauty and screen presence led her into films eventually.
Noted Work: Death of a Dynasty, 2 Fast 2 Furious, D.E.B.S., Sin City, DOA: Dead or Alive, Mutant Chronicles, War.
AISHWARYA RAI BACHCHAN
Date of Birth: 1 November 1973
Description: Credited as one of the most beautiful women in the world, she started of as a model winning the Miss World Pageant. She has been the face of L’Oréal, Lakmé, Titan, Longines, Coca-Cola, and Fuji amongst other. Beyond that she is a talented actress who has acted in numerous Bollywood films, which didn’t go unnoticed by Hollywood either!
Noted Work: (In Hollywood) – The Mistress of Spices, Pink Panther 2, Bride and Prejudice, Provoked, The Last Legion.
Date of Birth: 22 May 1979
Description: She is a model-turned actress who has won us over with both her beauty and her talent. Jackie Chan noticed her potential, and thus began her journey as a celebrated actress.
Noted Work: Rush Hour 2, The Naked Weapon, The Trouble-Makers, Around the World in 80 Days, Earthlings, Mission: Impossible III, Live Free or Die Hard, Balls of Fury, Deception, New York, I Love You, Operation: Endgame, The King of Fighters, Priest, Divergent, Nikita, Stalker.
Date of Birth: 11 October 1979
Description: She was already a star in the Korean film industry when she stepped into the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, and proved that she is just as good out here.
Noted Work: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Tube, Linda Linda Linda, The Host, As One, Cloud Atlas, A Girl at My Door.
Date of Birth: 10 April 1983
Description: She was one of the most noted reality TV stars before appearing in numerous hit films in Hollywood.
Noted Work: The Real World: San Diego, Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno II, Dragonball Evolution, Grown Ups, Sucker Punch, The Hangover II & III, Premium Rush, The Man with the Iron Fists, Eden, 7500, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, ER, Days of Our Lives, Greek, Once Upon a Time, Believe.
Date of Birth: 28 February 1984
Origin: India/ Asian-American
Description: Starting out as a cast member in an Oscar-nominated film, she has since played a wide variety of roles, providing us comic relief on numerous occasions.
Noted Work: West Bank Story, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The Back-Up Plan, Outsourced, Anger Management, American Dreamz, Ocean’s Thirteen, The Comebacks, The Babymakers, Breakaway.
Date of Birth: 13 February 1968
Origin: Asian-American/ China
Description: She was the first model to win the Miss USA state title after winning the Teen USA Pageant. She has since worked in numerous films and television series.
Noted Work: The Doors, No Way Back, Strange Days, The Scorpion King, Cradle 2 the Grave, X2, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, Underclassmen, The Tournament, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Green Lantern: Emerald Nights, White Frog, Growing Pains, Nash Brides, Martial Law, CSI: NY, Phineas and Ferb, Army Wives, The Vampire Diaries, Arrow, Warehouse 13.
Date of Birth: 24 June 1979
Origin: India/ Asian-American
Description: Recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, she has provided us with comedy, not just with her acting, but by also scripting and producing episodes for her shows.
Noted Work: The Mindy Project, The Office, This Is The End, Wreck-It Ralph, The Five-Year Engagement, License to Wed, No Strings Attached, Despicable Me.
Date of Birth: 14 March 1974
Description: Her dimpled smile, attractive looks, and range of character portrayals has landed her on the most popular Asians in Hollywood list.
Noted Work: Battlestar Galactica, Edgemont, Hawaii Five-O, The Cleaner, The Boarder.
Date of Birth: 31 December 1965
Description: Apart from her work in Hollywood, she is noted for bringing Chinese films onto the American and British forefront. She has won 2 Golden Rooster Awards, 2 Hundred Flowers Award, The Cannes Film Festival’s Berlinale Camera Trophy, the Volpi Cup, New York Film Critics’ Award, and the National Board of Review. Who wouldn’t love to own a resume like that?
Noted Work: Codename Cougar, A Terracotta Warrior, Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, The Story of Qui Ju, Farewell My Concubine, Temptress Moon, Breaking the Silence, Memoirs of Geisha, Miami Vice, Curse of the Golden Flower, Hannibal Rising, What Women Want.
Asians have shown us that not only are they one of the smartest people on Earth, they are not far behind when it comes to talent. Hollywood better watch out, because there are many more Asian talents waiting to burst onto the big screen!