5 minutes with J. Elijah Cho
1. When did you discover this piece of Hollywood trivia about Mickey Rooney’s performance in Breakfast in Tiffany’s?
I was first introduced to Mr. Yunioshi in the movie, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. There’s a scene where Bruce Lee gets very upset at a movie theater where Breakfast at Tiffany’s is playing and that kind of prepared me for the hurtful stereotypes that existed in media from that time.
2. What are you hoping the audience takes away from your your show?
I hope audiences laugh! That’s the big one for me with the show being a comedy. But I also hope audiences take away new information and opinions to maybe make conversations around this difficult subject a little easier.
3. Was there something in your research that you left out due to time constraints?
There’s a small bit in Rooney’s autobiography where he implies that Walt Disney approached him as a child to tell him that he was going to name a certain mouse character after him. That anecdote really helped inform my version of Mickey Rooney but I don’t happen to share it in the show itself.
4. Did Rooney question why he was chosen to play a Japanese man?
I think at that time there wouldn’t have been very many questions about the decision to cast Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi. And if Mickey Rooney had reservations about taking the role, my feeling is they would have mostly been him wondering why they didn’t offer him the lead.
5, Why is this show important?
I think the show is important because it offers a reminder of how bad things have been, how far we’ve come, and what a more inclusive future potentially holds. I also think it’s important to have a variety of voices in any conversation, and the conversation of how we can do Asian representation better is incredibly important to me.
To find out wha Jonatahtn is up to vist his www.jelijahcho.com / www.mryunioshi.com or Instagram @jelijahcho