Defying Gravity: Dante Basco, Caroline Goodall, James V. Hart, Charlie Korsmo and More on the Thirtieth Anniversary of Hook | Interviews


Thirty years after its release, “Hook” has deservedly acquired the status of a cult classic, and no one has felt its impact more meaningfully than Basco. As soon as Rufio appeared onscreen, the kids of my generation viewed him as the epitome of cool. We begged our teachers to show the film at our elementary school, but they rejected it due to the food fight scene (not the scene where Rufio is murdered, oddly enough).

“As your career goes on, you see what those characters meant to people and representation,” said Basco. “When ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ came out, Jon M. Chu—who has since become a friend—said in an interview, ‘Seeing Dante Basco play Rufio in ‘Hook’ as a kid in a movie theater was my first moment where I thought I can be a part of this industry.’ This is how the film has connected to the next generation. People have often told me, ‘You are the first cool and non stereotypical Asian I ever saw in a Hollywood film or television series,’ and it’s not something that I set out to do, it’s just how my career unfolded. Rufio was a big part of that because up until that moment, no one had seen an Asian character like that in mainstream American movies. That character has become a cultural hero to a lot of people, and not just Asian Americans. I’ve seen tattoos on people’s bodies of my 15-year-old face with the tri-hawk.”

“I wish I had known all these years how beloved the film has become, and it wasn’t until the last five years that I really understood its legacy,” said Jake. “I’m in a band in which everyone is ten years younger than me, and when they found out my dad wrote ‘Hook,’ they lost their minds. The film works for the people it was meant to work for, and if critics don’t get it, it doesn’t matter. People still love it, dad’s residual check at the end of the year is still solid, and I’m sure if I read some of the reviews that were written back then, I’d be like, ‘Yeah, I think that tracks,’ or, ‘I agree with this, that and the other.’ The way it has spanned generational and cultural divides to sort of unify people can’t be topped. Not every movie has that sort of impact, so they must’ve been doing something right.”

Basco gained further popularity by voicing the character of Zuko in the Nickelodeon series, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” which ranks among the great modern fantasy epics. It was just last month that he spoke with me via Zoom from Belgium, where he made his latest appearance at a comic convention.

“I was at a comic con about a month or so ago, where I was signing autographs and people were talking to me about how I had impacted their lives,” recalled Basco. “I looked up and saw that I was sitting right across the way of William Shatner, who is now 90 and still signing autographs for ‘Star Trek’ fans. Rufio and Zuko are characters that either I am going to carry or they are going to carry me into my nineties no matter what other iterations of these stories occur. When I attended the screening Michael B. Jordan hosted of ‘Hook’ last year, we talked about representation, and what I mentioned is that ‘Peter Pan’ stands apart from most any other fantasy because it’s not a franchise—it’s a fairy tale. ‘Peter Pan’ has been around longer than anyone alive on the planet today, and it will still be around after we’re all dead. Somehow, through the magic of Spielberg, I have become a part of that fairy tale forevermore. When you attend a comic convention or Disneyland or see a group of trick-or-treaters on Halloween, you will see someone, whether they are ethnic or not, representing a person of color in canon in that world. When Captain Hook, in modern adaptations, says, ‘Remember what happened to Rufio…’, it continues the legend.”

You can view the original article HERE.

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