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Chinese actors getting cast in bigger roles in US films


02-27-2017 09:13 BJT

With a few hours to go until the Oscars, many eyes soon will be on the red carpet. But much of Hollywood's gaze these days is directed towards a red flag. Chinese actors are getting cast in bigger roles in US films. CGTN America's Phil Lavelle reports from Los Angeles on why the American movie industry is looking East for some of its next big stars.

Walk around Hollywood that's about as Chinese as it gets. The TCL Chinese Theatre-a famous landmark. Delve INTO Hollywood, it's another story.

A huge Chinese star - helping save the world from aliens recently in 'Independence Day: Resurgence.'

When Matt Damon got stranded on Mars in 'The Martian', NASA called on China for help. And Star Wars' Rogue One - a huge hit - with TWO Chinese stars in major roles.

Are you seeing a pattern here? Increasingly, the face of the Hollywood hero is changing. This is no longer an all-American affair. A number of studios here now actively casting Chinese or Chinese-American actors in prominent and, crucially, positive roles.

"The Chinese public expects a certain level of role," Darren Boghosian with United Talent Agency said.

"A movie like Fast and the Furious-a significant proportion of their box office came from the Chinese population. And that was a wake up call to every studio on the value in casting high-profile Chinese actors and actresses as a way to attract people in large audiences when their movies were allowed into China," Boghosian said.

China and Hollywood are inextricably linked by ticket sales. Dalian Wanda already owns AMC Theaters in the U.S. And now Jurassic World maker, Legendary Entertainment. China's richest man owns the company, which also produces the Golden Globes.

And La La Land's heading east. The movie-of-the-moment's distributor has teamed up with TenCent to distribute it in China. All that influence, now moving in front of the lens.

"I think it's a considerable difference," Actor Ewan Chung said.

That's actor Ewan Chung's take on how things have changed. And today's roles on offer.

"I would say they're a little more fleshed out, more humanized," Chung said.

But there is a downside to that.

"I think when there was a greater number of bit parts, I got more calls, because there were more of them. But now - that's the funny thing with acting - the minute you get upgraded, it's a whole new game, there are fewer roles to go around," Chung said.

Oscars' boss, Cheryl Boone-Isaacs says there is 'an unprecedented bridge' between Hollywood and China.

And the Walk of Fame - full of international stars already - sure to get some more Chinese names, too. With one crucial caveat.

"Finding the ones who have that talent, but can also speak English-those are the ones that the doors are going to be wide open for. It's tougher when language is the barrier, so hopefully this interview inspires actors and actresses in China to take English classes, because the world is your oyster," Boghosian said.

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