With 672 credits to his name, James Hong has almost certainly appeared in more films and television shows than any other actor in the history of Hollywood. In an extraordinary career that stretches back to the mid-Fifties, the 93-year-old has played everyone from Faye Dunaway’s butler in Chinatown to a designer of replicant eyeballs in Blade Runner.
He was the villainous sorcerer David Lo-Pan in Big Trouble in Little China and Cassandra’s high-kicking, back-flipping dad in Wayne’s World 2. He’s turned up in every sitcom from Seinfeld and Friends to The King of Queens and The Big Bang Theory. You’ve heard his voice in Mulan, every Kung Fu Panda movie, and even Pixar’s latest heartwarming hit Turning Red. If acting can be considered the inhabiting of another life, however briefly, then it’s reasonable to assume that James Hong has lived more lives than just about anybody else.
It’s also therefore fitting and utterly remarkable that the nonagenarian has just made one of the best films of his career, and that it happens to be a story about multiple lives. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a hard movie to describe succinctly. It falls somewhere between a Douglas Adams-penned martial arts flick, a particularly good Rick and Morty episode, and that bit in The Bell Jar where Sylvia Plath writes about a young woman and a fig tree, where the protagonist’s many possible lives branch off in front of her while she sits there starving to death because she can’t choose one for fear of losing all the others.