John Cho

Active - 1996 - Present  |   Born - Jun 16, 1972 in Seoul, South Korea  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

It's not every day that an unknown actor lands a role that will allow him to deliver a line that enters into the public lexicon and still manages to avoid the "Where's the beef?" syndrome of being forever linked with the resulting catch phrase, but with his role as the "MILF" guy in the breakout comedy American Pie, actor John Cho somehow managed to do just that. With stage skills that aren't limited to Shakespeare (Cho spends his off-time touring with his band Left of Zed) and a killer sense of comic timing onscreen, the fresh-faced Korean actor has transcended his status as Asian-American "It" boy to become one of the most promising stars of his generation. A move from Korea to Los Angeles found young Cho's interest in acting piqued when he began studying English literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and after taking to the boards in a Berkeley Repertory Theater production of The Woman Warrior (which would subsequently move to Boston's Huntington Theater and Los Angeles' James Doolittle Theater), the up-and-coming talent made his screen debut in director Justin Lin's decidedly bizarre 1997 feature Shopping for Fangs.

Subsequent years found Cho essaying supporting roles in such high-profile features as Wag the Dog and Bowfinger, with his breakout role in American Pie preceding roles in such widely seen films as Bowfinger, American Beauty, Evolution, and the Chris Rock comedy Down to Earth. Though the films may not have offered Cho the most memorable parts, they kept him familiar with audiences until he reprised his most famous role to date in the hit sequel American Pie 2. In 2002, Cho truly got to show his talent in director Lin's critically acclaimed indie effort Better Luck Tomorrow. Following a crew of high-school-aged Asian-Americans who use their reputations as studious bookworms to mask their criminal activities, the movie proved without a doubt that Cho had what it took to make it in film. More supporting roles in Big Fat Liar and Solaris were quick to follow, and after rounding out the "American" trilogy in American Wedding, it was burger time for Cho as he played one of the titular characters (opposite Van Wilder's Kal Penn) in the 2004 comedy Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. The next year, Cho went on to essay a supporting role on the short-lived chef sitcom Kitchen Confidential before returning to feature films. Over the coming years, Cho would continue to reimain an active force on screen over the coming years, appearing on shows like FlashForward and as Sulu in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek franchise.

Movie Highlights

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  • Immigrated to Los Angeles in 1978.
  • Father is a minister.
  • Taught English at Pacific Hills High School in West Hollywood.
  • Gained widespread notice as the MILF guy in the American Pie series.
  • Lead singer for the band Viva La Union, formerly Left of Zed.
  • Appeared in a Nas music video in 2008.
  • George Takei, who attended the University of California, Berkeley, and Cho, who graduated from the school in 1996, have both played the role of Star Trek's Hikaru Sulu.
  • A 2013 member of the University of California, Berkeley Wall of Fame.