56410723Quick, list all the Asian actors you know who have starred in big budget Western films.
Not much of a list, is it? Jackie Chan comes to mind, John Cho, Lucy Liu, Zhang Ziyi and  maybe Michelle Yeoh.

Now you can add Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou to that list. The 30-year-old singer, famous worldwide for his pop/R&B music, has been confirmed to star in Columbia Picture’s “The Green Hornet” alongside Hollywood names such as Seth Rogen, Nicholas Cage and Cameron Diaz.

Scheduled to be released in the U.S. on July 9, 2010, “The Green Hornet” is based on the classic 1960s television show about a masked crime fighter. Chou will play the sidekick Kato, a role originated by the legendary Bruce Lee. Under his portrayal, Kato was an iconic character skilled at everything from martial arts to mechanics that sometimes even outshone the titular Green Hornet.

“I won’t try to be Bruce Lee’s Kato — I will try to bring my own interpretation to the part,”  said Chou said in a press release via Deadline Hollywood Daily. “Of course, it’s a dream role, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Chou joined the cast after Stephen Chow, originally both the director and the character of Kato, dropped out of the project. Michel Gondry replaced Chow as director and Chou landed the role after weeks of speculation.

Action movies aren’t usually up my alley, but this is one of the best news I’ve heard in a while from the film industry. Since “Memoirs of a Geisha,” which came out four years ago, I’ve hardly seen any films with an Asian actor in a starring role (Russell from Pixar’s “Up” comes to mind, but then again he’s an animation). To now have an Asian actor play an iconic role in such an expensive production is a step ahead for bringing diversity to the silver screen.

Here’s a fight scene from the original series starring Bruce Lee as Kato (the trailer for the 2010 movie is not available yet):


Photo of Jay Chou from China Mobile Wireless Music Awards, via Getty Images

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