Wish Dragon Star Jimmy Wong on Animation, Authenticity, and Accessibility
Wish Dragon continues to be a major hit for Netflix, even a couple of weeks after its initial debut. The story of a young Chinese man named Din, who crosses paths with a magical ancient dragon, is resonating with viewers all over the globe. To understand a bit more about the process of making Wish Dragon, and the seemingly perfect timing of its release, we talked to star Jimmy Won (Din) about his experience.
"This is the first real voiceover project that I've done at this scale, and it was a thrilling experience for me, as someone that's more used to being in the front of camera," Wong told ComicBook.com. "I had to learn a whole new skill set and I'm really grateful to the director, and the producers, and also the other voice talent for helping create a really great atmosphere to embody this character and add all of my own personal flavor to it."
"I'm also really lucky, I think, because the character does resemble my own personality in a lot of ways when I was a bit younger," he continued. "And I think having a connection to who the character Din is was a really great starting point for me, as an actor, to be able to find who that character in the voiceover booth with all the takes that we did."
One of the big missions of the Wish Dragon cast and crew was delivering an animated film that felt authentic to Chinese culture and the city of Shanghai. According to Wong, that kind of story couldn't come at a better time.
"I do give kudos to the team, and they worked really closely, both the American and the Chinese side, to come up with a really accurate representation of Chinese culture, what Shanghai the city really looks like and feels like," Wong said. "Because I've traveled there myself a few times and it did really, genuinely feel like I was in the city for every little scene, all the little details. And that is something to me that's really important because a lot of people don't travel, nor do they have the interest in traveling, especially to a country where they may not speak the language.
"So being able to see a setting like that and a culture like that being represented fully, and without caricature, and really just honestly and genuinely, I think is a really important thing for us to show through entertainment, no matter what part of the world it is, because it's one of the ways that so many people in the world would get a taste of a culture that's not their own. And I think that sort of thing is super important these days, as the world is getting more and more fractured and divided by all the different things that are happening."
Unfortunately, America has seen a dramatic spike in hate crimes directed at Asian people over the last year, a result of the rhetoric blaming China for the entire pandemic. Wish Dragon certainly won't make those crimes stop, but its accessibility on Netflix offers a way for the story to have an impact on folks who might not usually give their attention to an Asian story.
"I'm on the internet every day and I see so much growing resentment towards China," said Wong. "Even though I understand why people are upset and angry, it really has caused such an awful backlash throughout the United States we've seen with the incredible spike in anti-Asian crimes and hate. Being on Netflix means it's something that's easily and openly accessible to tons of people, and we're really used to watching stuff from home now."
Ultimately, the goal of the film is to bring people together, and Netflix offers a unique way to make that happen, and it couldn't come at a better time.
"So my wish, my genuine wish is for people to watch this movie and to hopefully get a broader understanding that we are a world filled with really similar people everywhere," Wong added. "And hopefully, movies like this can bring us a little closer to being in unity with our fellow human, instead of just finding a side and taking and pointing fingers at something. I think movies that are able to bring joy, and love, and happiness, and laughter is definitely the potion that we need a little bit worldwide to get us into this next phase of our lives.
"I think anyone watching and learning from this story can hopefully see a little bit of that and get a broader understanding of the fact that entertainment as we know it is not the same as it was last year, and it's never going to be the same. And I think it's for the better, ultimately, because it's all about accessibility, and representation, and finding ways to bring marginalized people's stories and cultures to the forefront. And the internet is a wonderful place if used correctly, and I think this is one of the ways that we can do that."
Wish Dragon is currently streaming on Netflix.0comments