"The family looked a lot like mine, especially the dad"

John Cho has revealed that one of the main reasons for taking on the lead in Searching was its Korean American family.

In an interview with GQ, Better Luck Tomorrow star John Cho said that Searching appealed to him because of its Asian American family.

When asked if the script originally featured a Korean family, Cho replied, “Yes. That was one of the reasons I wanted to do it. Aneesh is from San Jose. The movie is a valentine to his family. That was one of the payoffs of the movie for me, as well.”

“There is a whole Asian-American family, and no one is running away from their culture. They love one another. The family looked a lot like mine, especially the dad, and so it was unexpectedly meaningful to me.”

In the film, Cho plays young father David Kim who searches for his missing daughter. Kim enlists the help of a detective played by Debra Messing, but realises he is ultimately left to his own devices. The film is told entirely through computer and smartphone screens, in a similar fashion to 2014’s Unfriended.

Cho revealed in the GQ interview how the film was shot to give the effect of a laptop camera. “Shooting was weird,” Cho said. “My favorite stuff was the stuff that was more traditional, like when we were creating all those memories with the daughter.”

“Then we went into the computer stuff, and that was very strange, because it was very specific. But there was nothing there. Like these tiny movements with your eyeballs would be a plot point.”

He added that the camera was very close to his face. “It was the distance of a laptop. We used a GoPro, not an actual laptop, but they had a dummy laptop so I could mime typing.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Cho discussed being a symbol for Asian American representation.

“I try to burn as few calories thinking about that as possible because I don’t want to lose sight of the fun,” Cho said. “If I do, then I think the work suffers.”

“If you start thinking about representation too much—and you think about what movie should exist for an Asian-American person, and for an Asian-American male, or what you would like to see an Asian-American male doing on TV or in movies, even though that’s a legitimate thing to think about—it clouds my ability to go, “Oh, that’s just a fun thing. I’d like to throw myself into that situation.”

“I make decisions based on much dumber stuff. Like if someone offered me a movie where I could punch someone on a moving train, maybe I would consent to being called a chink in that movie, because I would like to do that so much.”

Searching will be released on 24 August and is one of our 5 films featuring Asians you need to watch this month.