Examples of yellowface

Examples of yellowface mainly include the portrayal of East Asians in American film and theater, though this can also encompass other Western media. It used to be the norm in Hollywood that East Asian characters were played by white actors, often using makeup to approximate East Asian facial characteristics, a practice known as yellowface.

Actor Mickey Rooney did yellowface in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's.

American media portrayals of East Asians have reflected a dominant Americentric perception rather than realistic and authentic depictions of true cultures, customs and behaviors.[1] Yellowface relies on stereotypes of East Asians in the United States.

Fu Manchu, Charlie Chan, and Madame Butterfly edit

  • Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan were the most common East Asian characters in film and television of the mid-20th century, and they were almost always played by white actors in yellowface. (Swedish actor Warner Oland, the first Charlie Chan in sound films, did not use yellowface. He was considered to look Asian, and was typecast in such roles from early in his career.) An updated film version of Charlie Chan was planned in the 1990s by Miramax; this new Charlie Chan was to be "hip, slim, cerebral, sexy and ... a martial-arts master",[2] but the film did not come to fruition.[2]
  • Madame Butterfly, an opera about a Japanese woman who falls in love with an American sailor who leaves her, and when he returns with an American wife, the devastated Cio-Cio San commits suicide. This immensely popular opera is often performed with a non-East Asian singer playing the role of Cio-Cio San.

Before the Civil Rights Movement edit

Year Title Actor(s) and Role(s) Director Notes
1915 Madame Butterfly Mary Pickford as Cio-Cio San Sidney Olcott
  • Many of the film's leading roles are white actors donning yellowface to play Asian roles
1918 The Forbidden City Norma Talmadge as San San Toy
E. Alyn Warren as Wong Li
Michael Rayle as The Mandarin
L. Rogers Lytton as Chinese Emperor
Sidney Franklin
1919 Broken Blossoms Richard Barthelmess as Cheng Huan D.W. Griffith
1919 Mr. Wu Matheson Lang as Mr. Wu
Meggie Albanesi as Nang Ping
Maurice Elvey
  • British version
1922 The Vermilion Pencil Ann May as Tse Chan's wife
Bessie Love as Hyacinth
Sidney Franklin as Fu Wong
Norman Dawn
  • Many of the film's leading roles are white actors donning yellowface to play Asian roles
1923 The Purple Dawn Bessie Love as Mui Far
Edward Peil Sr. as Wong Chong, the Tong leader
Charles R. Seeling
1927 Mr. Wu Lon Chaney as Mr. Wu
Renée Adorée as Wu Nang Ping
William Nigh
  • American version
1928 Spione (Spies) Lupu Pick as Doctor Akira Masimoto Fritz Lang
  • A German spy thriller
  • Romanian-German actor Pick plays the Japanese diplomat; his three couriers are played by Asian actors
1928 The Crimson City Myrna Loy as Onoto Archie Mayo
1929 The Black Watch Myrna Loy as Yasmani John Ford
1931–1949 Charlie Chan film series Warner Oland as Charlie Chan
1932 The Hatchet Man Edward G. Robinson and Loretta Young William A. Wellman
  • Makeup artists had noticed that audiences were more likely to reject Western actors in Asian disguise if the faces of actual Asians were in near proximity. Rather than cast the film with all Asian actors, which would have then meant no star names to attract American audiences, studios simply eliminated most of the Asian actors from the cast.[3]
1932 Frisco Jenny Helen Jerome Eddy William A. Wellman
  • Helen Jerome Eddy, portrays Frisco Jenny's loyal servant Amah.
  • Although not a success on the original release, in recent years, Frisco Jenny has been among the pre-Code films rediscovered and re-evaluated thanks to theatrical revivals and cable television screenings.[4]
1932 The Mask of Fu Manchu Myrna Loy as Fah Lo See Charles Brabin
Charles Vidor
1932 Thirteen Women Myrna Loy George Archainbaud
  • Ursula Georgi (Myrna Loy), a half-Javanese Eurasian woman who was subjected to harsh bigotry from the other women during her school days due to her mixed-race heritage. Georgi exacts revenge by using a suborned swami to manipulate the women into killing themselves or each other.
  • Not a popular success either critically or financially, Thirteen Women has achieved a "cult classic" status in recent years. A pre-Code era film, modern critics have stated that its theme was ahead of its time and out of step with the tastes of 1930s cinema patrons.[5]
1933 The Bitter Tea of General Yen Nils Asther Frank Capra
  • General Yen was a box office failure upon its release and has since been overshadowed by Capra's later efforts. In recent years, the film has grown in critical acclaim. In 2000, the film was chosen by British film critic Derek Malcolm as one of the hundred best films in The Century of Films.
  • According to a New York Times review, Nils Asther's make-up is impressive, with slanting eyes and dark skin. He talks with a foreign accent.[6]
  • Toshia Mori who in 1932 became the only Asian actress to be selected as a WAMPAS Baby Star, an annual list of young and promising film actresses, was billed third in the film's credits, behind Barbara Stanwyck and Asther. This was her most significant film role; she returned to minor characters in her subsequent films.
1934 The Mysterious Mr. Wong Bela Lugosi William Nigh
  • Bela Lugosi stars as Mr. Wong, a "harmless" Chinatown shopkeeper by day and relentless blood-thirsty pursuer of the Twelve Coins of Confucius by night.
  • They did not even bother to disguise Lugosi's thick Hungarian accent. It was directed by William Nigh, who three years later directed Boris Karloff in the Mr. Wong detective films.
1936 Broken Blossoms Emlyn Williams as Cheng Huan John Brahm
  • Remake
1937 The Good Earth Paul Muni as Wang Lung
Luise Rainer as O-Lan
All of the Lead Roles
Sidney Franklin
  • All of the lead roles were played by actors in yellowface while all the extras and minor roles were played by Asians.
  • Luise Rainer won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as O-Lan.
1937 Lost Horizon H.B. Warner Frank Capra
1937–1939 Mr. Moto film series Peter Lorre as Mr. Moto film series
  • Between 1937 and 1939 eight motion pictures were produced by 20th Century Fox starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Kentaro Moto.
  • Unlike in the novels, Moto is the central character, wears glasses, and no longer has gold teeth. He is still impeccably dressed in primarily Western suits, only wearing a yukata when he is relaxing at home.
  • The stories are action-oriented due to Moto's liberal use of judo (only hinted at in the novels) and due to his tendency to wear disguises.
1938 Shadows Over Shanghai Paul Sutton Charles Lamont
1939 Island of Lost Men Anthony Quinn Kurt Neumann
  • Anthony Quinn is in yellowface and portrays Chang Tai, a "Chinese" agent.
1939 The Mystery of Mr. Wong Boris Karloff William Nigh
  • Boris Karloff was in yellowface as the detective.
  • Amongst the Asians in the background: Chester Gan, Lotus Long as the maid, Lee Tung Foo as Mr. Wong's Butler and door opener.
1940 The Letter Gale Sondergaard William Wyler
  • Sondergaard plays a Eurasian, a trope of the Dragonlady.
  • Variety said, "Sondergaard is the perfect mask-like threat".[8]
1942 Little Tokyo, U.S.A. Harold Huber as Takimura, American-born spy for Tokyo, June Duprez as Teru Otto Brower
  • While other works had used Asian make-up to ridicule or vilify Asian features, this B movie used yellowface directly to deny a group of Asian Americans their civil rights.[9] Twentieth Century-Fox seized on one of the most controversial aspects of the homefront, the roundup and internment of people of Japanese descent on the West Coast. Little Tokyo basically developed the theme that anyone of Japanese descent, including American citizens, was loyal to the emperor of Japan and a potential traitor to America.[10][11]
  • The movie employed a quasi-documentary style of filming. Twentieth Century sent its cameramen to the Japanese quarter of Los Angeles to shoot the actual evacuation. However, after the evacuation, night shots were difficult in the deserted "Little Tokyo". Night scenes were filmed in Chinatown instead. Chinese actor Richard Loo played one of the lead Japanese roles in the film.
1943 Batman J. Carrol Naish Lambert Hillyer
  • J. Carrol Naish is in yellowface and portrays Dr. Tito Daka, a Japanese mad scientist. The speaking roles of Japanese Navy sailors were also played by actors of non-Japanese descent in yellowface.[citation needed]
1944 Dragon Seed Katharine Hepburn, Walter Huston, Aline MacMahon, Turhan Bey, Agnes Moorehead, J. Carrol Naish, and Hurd Hatfield Harold S. Bucquet and Jack Conway
  • Based on a best-selling book by Pearl S. Buck, the film portrays a peaceful village in China that has been invaded by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese war. The men in the village choose to adopt a peaceful attitude toward their conquerors, but Jade (played by Hepburn), a headstrong woman, stands up to the Japanese.
  • Aline MacMahon was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress.
  • In Lion of Hollywood author Scott Eyman wrote that this was one of the worst of all MGM pictures (p. 364).[12]
1946 Anna and the King of Siam Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell, and Gale Sondergaard John Cromwell
1946 Ziegfeld Follies Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer Lemuel Ayers, Roy Del Ruth, Robert Lewis, Vincente Minnelli, Merrill Pye, George Sidney, Charles Walters
  • Limehouse Blues: Conceived as a "dramatic pantomime" with Astaire as a proud but poverty-stricken Chinese labourer whose infatuation with the unattainable Bremer leads to tragedy. The story serves as bookends for a dream ballet inspired by Chinese dance motifs.
1955 Blood Alley Anita Ekberg, Berry Kroeger, Paul Fix, and Mike Mazurki William A. Wellman
  • Despite the star power of its lead actors and director, Blood Alley received a lukewarm reception from critics.[14] The New York Times proclaimed, "Blood Alley, despite its exotic, oriental setting, is a standard chase melodrama patterned on a familiar blueprint."[15]
  • Far better were Paul Fix, Berry Kroeger, and Anita Ekberg, who weren't the most convincing "Chinese" in the world but who seem to fit right in with the blood-and-thunder proceedings.[16]
1955 Love is a Many Splendored Thing Jennifer Jones Henry King
1956 The Conqueror John Wayne Dick Powell
  • The picture was a critical and commercial failure (often ranked as one of the worst films of the 1950s). Wayne, who was at the height of his career, had lobbied for the role after seeing the script and was widely believed to have been grossly miscast. (He was so "honored" by The Golden Turkey Awards.)
1956 The King and I Yul Brynner and Rita Moreno Walter Lang
  • Brynner (who was born in Asia, in Vladivostok,[18] which is now in Russia, and has both European and Asian ancestry including Swiss and Mongolian Buryat) reprised his role as King Mongut of Siam from the original Broadway production.
  • Moreno, who is of Puerto-Rican heritage, played Tuptim.
  • The film was banned in Thailand (formerly Siam in King Mongkut's days).
1956 The Teahouse of the August Moon Marlon Brando Daniel Mann
  • Brando spent two hours a day for the standard prosthetic eyepieces and makeup. His role was made all the more noticeable because he is the only actor in yellowface in a sea of Asian extras and secondary characters.[19]
  • Brando actually attempted an "authentic" Japanese accent and he even has some Japanese dialogue.
1957 Sayonara Ricardo Montalbán as Nakamura Joshua Logan
  • A movie dealing with racism, prejudice, and interracial marriage in post war Japan
1958 The Quiet American (1958 version) Giorgia Moll as Phuong Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Adaptation of Graham Green's novel.
1958 The Inn of the Sixth Happiness Curd Jürgens and Robert Donat Mark Robson
1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's Mickey Rooney Blake Edwards
  • Rooney's performance of Japanese character Mr. Yunioshi was later criticized in subsequent years as an offensive stereotype.[20][21]
  • The 2009 DVD re-release of the film included "a brief and necessary featurette on the character of Mr. Yunioshi, offering an Asian perspective on yellowface".[22]
1961 The Devil's Daffodil Christopher Lee as Ling Chu Ákos Ráthonyi
1961 The Terror of the Tongs Christopher Lee as Chung King and others Anthony Bushell
1961 Flower Drum Song Juanita Hall Henry Koster
  • The film and stage play were based on the 1957 novel of the same name by the Chinese-American author C.Y. Lee.
  • In 1960, producer Ross Hunter cast Anna May Wong in Flower Drum Song. However, Wong became ill in December 1960 and was replaced by Juanita Hall.
  • This movie was unusual (for its time) in featuring nearly all Asian-American cast members (one of the few speaking white parts being that of a mugger), including dancers, though two of the singing voices were not Asian ones. Starring in this movie were Nancy Kwan, James Shigeta, Benson Fong, James Hong, Reiko Sato and the original Broadway cast members Jack Soo, Miyoshi Umeki and Juanita Hall (an African-American actress who previously played the Pacific Islander Bloody Mary in the Broadway and film productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific).
  • In 2008, Flower Drum Song was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[23]
1962 The Manchurian Candidate Henry Silva John Frankenheimer
1962 A Majority of One Alec Guinness Mervyn LeRoy
1963 55 Days at Peking Flora Robson Nicholas Ray
1964 7 Faces of Dr. Lao Tony Randall George Pal
1965 Pierrot le fou Anna Karina Jean-Luc Godard
  • Lead actress Anna Karina donned yellowface makeup during a mid-film skit satirizing the American involvement in the Vietnam War.
1965 Genghis Khan Robert Morley, James Mason and others Henry Levin
1965 Gilligan's Island Vito Scotti
1965 Get Smart Leonard Strong and Joey Forman
  • Leonard Strong guest stars as "The Claw" in two episodes of season 1; "Diplomat's Daughter" and "The Amazing Harry Hoo", where he would pronounce his name as "The Craw" due to his stereotypical inability to pronounce the letter L, and would angrily respond "Not Craw, Craw!" whenever addressed by his mispronounced name.
  • He is joined by Joey Forman in "The Amazing Harry Hoo", who plays the role of "Detective Harry Hoo", a parody of Charlie Chan. Forman reprises his role as Harry Hoo in the season 2 episode: "Hoo Done It".
1965 The Return of Mr. Moto Henry Silva Ernest Morris
  • In 1965, Mr. Moto's character was revived in a low-budget Robert Lippert production filmed in England starring Henry Silva.
  • In Mr. Moto Returns, a.k.a. The Return of Mr. Moto, Mr. I.A. Moto is now a member of Interpol.
  • The extremely tall Silva conveyed an almost James Bond-like playboy character; in the fight scenes he is clearly not proficient in martial arts. He speaks in a lazy 'Beatnik' manner.
  • Nowhere in the film is it even mentioned that Moto is Japanese. He is referred to as an "oriental" and, oddly, in the trailer, Moto is referred to as a "swinging Chinese cat". It is only when he is disguised as a Japanese oil representative, Mr. Takura, that a more stereotypical portrayal of a Japanese businessman is given.
1966 7 Women Woody Strode and Mike Mazurki John Ford
1968 Bewitched Richard Haydn R. Robert Rosenbaum
  • Haydn portrays Japanese businessman, Kenzu Mishimoto in "A Majority of Two" (Season 4, Episode 29).

After the Civil Rights Movement edit

Note: This is also after the anti-miscegenation laws were repealed in the United States of America that prevented East Asian actors from playing opposite white actors as love interests.

Year Title Actor(s) and Role(s) Director Notes
1970 The Yin and the Yang of Mr. Go James Mason as Y.Y. Go Burgess Meredith
1972 The Paul Lynde Show Ray Walston as Mr. Temura George Tyne
  • Season 1, Episode 11: "Meet Aunt Charlotte"[24]
1972–1975 Kung Fu David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine
  • David Carradine wore yellowface makeup to look Eurasian
1973 Lost Horizon John Gielgud as Chang
Charles Boyer as The High Lama
Charles Jarrott
1974 Arabian Nights Salvatore Sapienza as Prince Yunan Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • Film commentator Tony Rayns said this casting decision was likely done because the native Nepalese actors would probably have taken issue with being nude on film
1975 One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing Peter Ustinov and others Robert Stevenson
1976 Murder by Death Peter Sellers Robert Moore
  • Peter Sellers plays Inspector Sidney Wang, based on Charlie Chan and appropriately accompanied by his adopted, Japanese son Willie (Richard Narita). Wang wears elaborate Chinese costumes, and his grammar is frequently criticized by the annoyed host much the same way that Inspector Clouseau. It could be argued that Sellers' role is in itself a parody of yellowface casting in earlier films.
1977 Doctor Who John Bennett as Li H'sen Chang[25] David Maloney Serial: The Talons of Weng-Chiang
1980 The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu Peter Sellers Piers Haggard
Peter Sellers
Richard Quine
  • This is the last Fu Manchu created.
1980 Flash Gordon Max von Sydow as Emperor Ming Mike Hodges
  • Ming the Merciless is the sci fi version of Fu Manchu.
1981 Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen Peter Ustinov as Charlie Chan
  • In 1980, Jerry Shylock proposed a multimillion-dollar comedy film, to be called Charlie Chan and the Dragon Lady. A group calling itself C.A.N. (Coalition of Asians to Nix) was formed, protesting the fact that two white actors, Peter Ustinov and Angie Dickinson, had been cast in the primary roles. Others protested that the film itself contained a number of stereotypes; Shylock responded that the film was not a documentary.[26] The film was released the following year as Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen and was an "abysmal failure".[27] More successful was Wayne Wang's Chan Is Missing (1982), which was a spoof of the older Chan films.[2]
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Malcolm Weaver as "The Ratty Nepalese" Steven Spielberg

Malcolm Weaver plays a Nepalese man at 36:56 in.

1982 Conan the Barbarian Gerry Lopez as Subotai John Milius
  • The character Subotai is a 'Hyrkanian' who in the mythos of Conan the Barbarian are the ancestors of Asians and further the character is named after Subotai one of the general so Genghis Khan, but the character however is played by the Hawaiian actor Gerry Lopez.
1982 The Year of Living Dangerously Linda Hunt as Billy Kwan Peter Weir
1983 Reilly, Ace of Spies David Suchet as Inspector Tsientsin Martin Campbell
  • British ITV television mini-series
  • Episode 2: "Prelude to War"; Suchet dons eyelid makeup/prosthetics to play the Chinese character, who remarks on the disadvantages of "not being white".
1984 The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Peter Weller as Buckaroo Banzai W.D. Richter
  • Buckaroo Banzai is supposed to be half-Japanese, with a Japanese father played by James Saito and American mother played by Jamie Lee Curtis.
1985 Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins Joel Grey as Chiun Guy Hamilton
  • Film based on the Destroyer book series. Joel Grey garnered a Saturn Award and a second Golden Globe nomination for "Best Supporting Actor" for his yellowface portrayal.
1986 Short Circuit Fisher Stevens as Ben Jabituya John Badham
  • Fisher Stevens plays a character from India.
1988 Short Circuit 2 Fisher Stevens as Ben Jahveri Kenneth Johnson
  • Fisher Stevens plays a character from India, whose last name has been changed from Jabituya to Jahveri in this sequel.
1991 Twin Peaks Piper Laurie as Mr Tojamura (a disguise worn by Catherine Martell) Mark Frost, David Lynch
  • episodes 11,12,13,14. Catherine Martell who is presumed dead in a fire inexplicably returns as Mr. Tojamura, a Japanese banker who offers to buy the Great northern hotel. Laurie wears both prosthetics and makeup to portray Mr Tojamura.
1994 Sabotage Adam Yauch Spike Jonze
1996–1999 Tracey Takes On... Tracey Ullman as Mrs. Noh Nang Ning
  • Ullman wore prosthetics to make her look East Asian.
1997–2002 MADtv Alex Borstein and Guest Star Role Susan Sarandon as Ms. Swan[29]
1998 Something Stupid Magda Szubanski as Chu Yang Phat
  • Magda Szubanski plays Chu Yang Phat, the host of a Chinese variety show called Rei-Jing. Szubanski wore a black wig, and donned a stereotypical Chinese accent.
1999-2002 Ushi & Van Dijk Wendy van Dijk as Ushi Hirosaki Dutch TV show in which Dutch actress Wendy van Dijk plays Ushi Hirosaki, a Japanese journalist. The show had local versions in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Hungary.[30][31][32]

21st century edit

Year Title Actor(s) Director Notes
2003 Micukó: A világ ferde szemmel Judit Stahl as Micukó Hungarian version of Ushi & Van Dijk. Canceled after Hungarian TV channel TV2 received protest letters from the Embassy of Japan in Budapest, claiming the program was discriminatory towards the Japanese people.[33][34]
2003 Oumi Mi Ridell as Oumi Swedish version of Ushi & Van Dijk
2004 Noriko Show Outi Mäenpää as Noriko Saru Finnish version of Ushi & Van Dijk
2005 Little Britain Matt Lucas as Ting Tong Macadangdang Declan Lowney
  • Matt Lucas plays Ting Tong, a kathoey mail-order bride. The character repeats such catchphrases as "Please Mr. Dudley!" (in a stereotypical accent) "My name Ting Tong, Ting Tong Macadangdang." "Did you have good time?"
  • The character also appeared in Little Britain Abroad (2006)
2005 We Can Be Heroes: Finding The Australian of the Year Chris Lilley as Ricky Wong
  • We Can Be Heroes: Finding The Australian of the Year is an Australian Television series, Ricky Wong is a 23-year-old Chinese physics student who lives in the suburb of Wheelers Hill, Melbourne, Victoria. He is often exuberant and tells his colleagues that "Physics is Phun" and that they are in the "Wong" laboratory. This character is largely a vehicle for parodying the stereotypical "Chinese overachiever", or model migrant.
2006 Cloud 9 Paul Rodriguez as Mr. Wong
  • Cloud 9
2007 Balls of Fury Christopher Walken as Feng Ben Garant
  • Feng is a parody of the yellow peril and Fu Manchu stereotype.
2007 Norbit Eddie Murphy as Mr. Wong Brian Robbins
2007 Grindhouse Nicolas Cage as Dr. Fu Manchu Rob Zombie
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry Rob Schneider as Morris Takechi Dennis Dugan
2008 My Name Is Bruce Ted Raimi as Wing Bruce Campbell
2009 Crank: High Voltage David Carradine as Poon Dong Neveldine/Taylor
  • Poon Dong, played by David Carradine, is the head of the Chinese Triad. The name of the character is a pun, being both a stereotypical Chinese-sounding name and slang for genitalia.
2009 Chanel – Paris – Shanghai A Fantasy – The Short Movie Freja Beha, Baptiste Giabiconi Karl Lagerfeld
  • Karl Lagerfeld Opened His Pre-Fall Show in Shanghai With a Film That Included Yellow Face.[37] Lagerfeld defended this as a reference to old films. "It is an homage to Europeans trying to look Chinese", he explained. "Like in The Good Earth, the people in the movie liked the idea that they had to look like Chinese. Or like actors in Madame Butterfly. People around the world like to dress up as different nationalities." "It is about the idea of China, not the reality."[38] Chinese persons played the maid, a courtesan and background characters.[citation needed]
2009 Hanger Wade Gibb as Russell Ryan Nicholson
2009 Ushi & Dushi Wendy van Dijk as Ushi Hirosaki Spin-off from Ushi & Van Dijk
2010–2011 Come Fly with Me David Walliams and Matt Lucas as Asuka and Nanako Paul King
  • Walliams and Lucas play two Japanese girls who have flown to the airport to see their idol, Martin Clunes.
2010 Ushi & Loesie Wendy van Dijk as Ushi Hirosaki Spin-off from Ushi & Van Dijk
2011-2012 Ushi & The Family Wendy van Dijk as Ushi Hirosaki Spin-off from Ushi & Van Dijk
2011 Angry Boys Chris Lilley as Jen Okazaki
  • Jen Okazaki is the mother of fictional teen skateboarding superstar, Tim Okazaki, who live in the city of Santa Barbara, California after migrating from Japan. Jen is portrayed as a stereotypical tiger mum, often pushing her son with extremely strict homeschooling and training regimes. She also has excessive control on Tim's skateboarding career, marketing him as not only a cute Japanese boy, but as a homosexual, of which she monetises by selling phallic merchandise under the name "GayStyle Enterprises."
2012 Cloud Atlas Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, James D'Arcy, and Keith David Lana and Lilly Wachowski
  • A significant number of cast members applied makeup, focusing mostly on the eyes, to make their features appear more Korean/East Asian in one of the film's stories. The film is based on the idea of having the same actors reappear in different roles in six different story lines, one of which is set in 'Neo Seoul' in the year 2144. The film thus also has Asian actresses Bae Doona and Zhou Xun appear in non-Asian roles, and African-American actress Halle Berry portrayed a white character. Blackface is not used in the film, however.
2012 Wrong William Fichtner as Master Chang
2013 Ushi Must Marry Wendy van Dijk as Ushi Hirosaki Paul Ruven
  • Spin-off from Dutch TV show Ushi & Van Dijk. Last work in which Wendy van Dijk plays Ushi Hirosaki.
2013 The Walking Dead: A Hardcore Parody Danny Wylde as Glenn Rhee Danny Wylde
  • A pornographic parody of The Walking Dead, controversy erupted over the character Glenn being portrayed by a White actor under heavy make-up and prosthetics.[39][40]
2014 Baby Geniuses and the Treasures of Egypt Jon Voight as Moriarty Sean McNamara
2014 How I Met Your Mother Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor
2015 Aloha Emma Stone as Alison Ng Cameron Crowe
2015 Fu Manchu Ch. 13 Watch Your Step Michael McQuary as Fu Manchu Kyle Kelley A short Independent film about Fu Manchu[42][43]
2016 Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Janette Tougt as Huki Muki Mandie Fletcher Movie based on the TV series Absolutely Fabulous where Janette Tough plays Japanese fashion designer Huki Muki[44]
2017 Ghost in the Shell Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi Rupert Sanders The film was criticized in the United States for casting Johansson (who is not of Japanese descent) as Motoko Kusanagi. However, some fans in Japan pointed out that Motoko Kusanagi has an artificial (cyborg) body, and thus, does not have to be ethnically Japanese.[45] Pilou Asbæk also plays the villain Hideo Kuze, a role that is ethnically Japanese in the source material.

Yellowface worn by a character in a film edit

In some films, white characters, played by white actors, have played East Asians, often as a disguise.

Year Title Actor(s) Director Notes
1945 First Yank into Tokyo Gordon Douglas Tom Neal
  • A US soldier undergoes plastic surgery to look Japanese in order to rescue an American scientist held in Japan.
1962 My Geisha Shirley MacLaine Jack Cardiff
1967 You Only Live Twice Sean Connery Lewis Gilbert
  • James Bond disguises himself as a Japanese bridegroom in order to elude SPECTRE assassins.
1978 Revenge of the Pink Panther Peter Sellers Blake Edwards
  • Inspector Clouseau had many disguises and this included the quintessential Chinaman stereotype.
1981 Hardly Working Jerry Lewis Jerry Lewis
1987 Snow White Diana Rigg Michael Berz
  • The Evil Queen disguises herself as an evil geisha merchant, even going as far as to do a mock Japanese accent, to kill Snow White with poisoned combs.
2001 Vidocq Inés Sastre Pitof
  • Sastre's character, Préah, who is a dancer in a brothel, disguises as an East Asian in order to attract audience.
2008 Be Kind Rewind Jack Black Michel Gondry
2011 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Robert Downey Jr. Guy Ritchie
  • The character of Sherlock Holmes donned yellowface to disguise himself as a Chinese man for a short while in the film.
2014 Magic in the Moonlight Colin Firth as Wei Ling Soo Woody Allen
  • Colin Firth portrays an Englishman who dons yellowface in order to pass as a Chinese illusionist.

Books about yellowface edit

  • Made-Up Asians: Yellowface During the Exclusion Era (2022) by Esther Kim [47] - provides history and examples of yellowface

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Kashiwabara, Amy, Vanishing Son: The Appearance, Disappearance, and Assimilation of the Asian-American Man in American Mainstream Media, UC Berkeley Media Resources Center, archived from the original on September 22, 2018
  2. ^ a b c Sengupta, Somini (January 5, 1997). "Charlie Chan, Retooled for the '90s". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  3. ^ "The Hatchet Man". Tcm.com. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  4. ^ "Frisco Jenny". Tcm.com. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  5. ^ Basinger, Jeanine (June 16, 2008). "Few female ensemble films". Variety.
  6. ^ Hall, Mordaunt (January 12, 1933). "Radio City Music Hall Shows a Melodrama of China as Its First Pictorial Attraction". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Lost Horizon (1937)". Tcm.com. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  8. ^ "The Letter". Variety. December 31, 1939. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  9. ^ "Selective Filmography". Archived from the original on July 21, 2009. Retrieved January 30, 2014.
  10. ^ Hal Erickson (2012). "Movies: About Little Tokyo, USA". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012.
  11. ^ "At the Palace". The New York Times. August 7, 1942. Archived from the original on July 20, 2012.
  12. ^ Dargis, Manohla (July 10, 2005). "'Lion of Hollywood': Mogul of Make-Believe". The New York Times.
  13. ^ "NY Times: Anna and the King of Siam". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2010. Archived from the original on March 22, 2010. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  14. ^ "Blood Alley". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  15. ^ W, A. (October 6, 1955). "In Formosa Strait". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Blood Alley (1955) – Releases". AllMovie. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  17. ^ "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2008. Archived from the original on January 15, 2008. Retrieved December 22, 2008.
  18. ^ "Yul Brynner". Biography. December 2, 2021.
  19. ^ Robert B. Ito. "Bright Lights Film Journal :: "A Certain Slant": A Brief History of Hollywood Yellowface". Brightlightsfilm.com. Archived from the original on December 12, 2010. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  20. ^ Durant, Yvonne (June 18, 2006). "Where Holly Hung Her Ever-So-Stylish Hat". The New York Times. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
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