Daniel Dae Kim says he conferred with kids in his family before taking on his role as Fire Lord Ozai in the new Avatar: The Last Airbender adaptation.
The children in Daniel Dae Kim’s life influenced his decision to play Fire Lord Ozai in the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was confirmed in 2018 that the wildly popular animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005), created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, would be getting a live-action adaptation on Netflix. It was later announced, in 2021, that the original creators would no longer be involved in this project due to creative differences, leaving many with concerns about the remake. Despite this, the Netflix adaptation moved forward and is said to have begun earlier this month.
The series follows 12-year-old Aang, the reincarnation of the Avatar, who awakens 100 years into a war he doesn’t understand but must find a way to stop. Although, the showrunner (Albert Kim) has already stated that this version will not be an exact copy of the original series, rather choosing to expand the world and give fans of the original series new content to enjoy. The cast has been kept fairly quiet until just a few months ago, however, not all of the castings have been revealed as of yet. It wasn’t until November 3 that it was announced that Daniel Dae Kim would be joining the cast as Fire Lord Ozai. Netflix continues to confirm its live-action cast with Monk Gyatso being portrayed by Lim Kay Siu and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as General Iroh.
In a recent interview with Collider, Kim said that prior to accepting his role in the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender, he consulted with the different children within his family for their opinion. He ensured that the kids were aware he would be playing the villain before making his final decision. Their positive reactions were enough to convince him to take on the role. Read Kim’s quote below:
“When it came time to decide whether to do the live-action series, I called all of my friends’ kids and my nieces and nephews and asked them whether they think I should do it. Before I even got the question out, they were like, ‘Yes!’ I was like, but wait a minute, before you answer, just know that I play a bad guy. And they were like, ‘Ozai?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Do it!’ So, there was no hesitation whatsoever. So, it made it easy for me to say yes, and you know, make my nieces and nephews and my kids happy.”
The upcoming Netflix adaptation won’t be Kim’s first time in the ATLA universe. He first appeared as General Fong in the original cartoon, and later returned as Hiroshi Sato in The Legend of Korra. This also isn’t the first time The Last Airbender has been adapted for a live-action, and while the original series is still remembered endearingly, the same cannot be said for M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 version, of the same name. Fans of the original series still critique the film’s shoddy quality and white-washed casting to this day, although the diverse cast and crew behind this new adaptation appear to have put, at least some, concerns to rest.
With the lingering resentment towards the previous live-action adaptation, it’s understandable that actors may have been hesitant to approach this project out of concern for how it would be received by fans. Kim is familiar with the extreme popularity of the series due to his previous work within the franchise. He showcases his understanding of how important Avatar: The Last Airbender is to its fans, by going out of his way to confer with people who already care about the series. This level of forethought from the actors involved in the new series bodes well for the quality of the adaptation.
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