Asian Role: Benjamin Jahrvi
Non-Asian Performer: Fisher Stevens
Release Date: 1988
East Asians aren’t the only Asians who aren’t allowed to play themselves: Indians and Southeast Asians have the exact same problems. In fact, in a recent article in the New York Times, writer and comedian Aziz Ansari remembered the first time he saw an Indian man in the lead role of a film. It was the character Benjamin Jhavari in Short Circuit 2.
There was one crucial problem, however. The guy who played Benjamin Jhavari was not actually Indian. He was a white guy from Chicago named Fisher Stevens, who put on brown makeup every morning to play his role. In the same New York Times article, Stevens reflected back on the role, noting that he was young and still struggling at the time. If he was given a similar opportunity today, he noted, he wouldn’t do it.