Asian American actor James Taku Leung appears in a new Oreo national commercial, the biggest commercial Nabisco has ever made for a cookie so far.
To see the spot go to: http://www.DSRL.com.
James recently answered a few questions:
Tell us about your role in the Oreo ad spots?
I am one of four “villains.” We have two giants and two tiny guys on our “Bad Guy” team. I am the Asian martial arts expert of the team. It wasn’t intentional when we made the commercial, but after it started airing people now refer to me as the “Oreo Ninja.”
We will compete against the “Double Stuf Racing League”, the sports icons of Oreo Cookies: Eli Manning, Venus Williams, Apolo Ohno, and Shaquille O’Neal. For the first time in an Oreo lick-racing commercial it will be four against four — plus our secret boss, the Hooded Menace. The race begins January 23, 2011.
How did you prepare for your role?
This was one of the most interesting auditions ever. The casting call asked for: “HENCHMEN: QUIRKY and ODD characters. Free spirit who can portray intense emotion in a comedic fashion. GOOD ACTOR.”
When I saw the notice, I didn’t intend to submit myself for consideration because I figured that at barely 5-feet tall and only a little over 100 lbs, they’ll never take me as a henchman. But the notice stated “GOOD ACTOR.” Then the artist in me took over the over-rational part of me. I realized that I am a great henchman.
I went into the interview as an “bad Bruce Lee” and asked myself “What will Bruce Lee do if he was a villain?” That motivation took me through the many rounds of auditions over many days. This was the hardest audition ever. I felt like I was on American Idol, but I had to stand on one leg and be in a split the whole time. We watched our fellow actors eliminated one by one in a room in front of a panel of Nabisco execs and a celebrity movie director.
The days leading up to the shoot, I kept on focusing my energies as a “Villain Bruce Lee” and faced off with my celebrity competition. RIP, Bruce. But the production company threw one curve ball at me right before the cameras rolled. They gave me an eye patch.
What was it like wearing an eye patch?
I’m used to using two eyes. The eye patch had me very disoriented. I felt like I was blinded by a laser whenever I took it off. I had trouble standing on one leg, especially with it stretched out in a kick. I did the standing split pretty well during the auditions, but with a missing eye, it felt like trying to balance a bowling ball on a needle. I got to the point where I decided not to take the eye patch off during breaks. I had to immerse myself into a one-eyed character and just be him the whole day. Needless to say, driving felt like vertigo that night. All the cars, traffic lights and city lights just gave me the most challenging experience like I was flying through a laser war.
Do you really eat Oreos?
Oreo cookies are my reward for hard work — my celebration food. I eat them with ice cream and cake.
Oreo cookies bring back memories, though. I was one of those kids who hated milk growing up. Oreo cookies helped me drink milk. Even as an adult, whenever I eat Oreos, I would like milk with it. My favorite ones now are the “Heads or Tails,” which I ate for the first time on this commercial. Since vanilla-chocolate swirl is my favorite ice cream, they’re the obvious choice for me.
Did you get a lifetime supply of Oreos?
What was it like going up against Shaquille O’Neal?
That guy can really down cookies and milk.
What’s your next project?
I made another commercial last week, but I’m not at liberty to talk about it yet. The next project that I’m working on is my personal film.
As a child, I grew up under unique circumstances. Not only did I come from a traditional Asian immigrant family, I grew up very frail. I was told that I can never grow up to be a normal-sized American man, due to my poor health.
Well, I certainly did not make 5’10” but I’ve conquered everything else in life that I was told I can’t do. I even successfully served in the US Marines. I had to fight off many 6-foot tall 200 lb guys in there. Surprisingly the even bigger Marines didn’t pick on me. They just gave me lots of noogies.
But now I’m fighting the stigma of “there is no need for diminutive Asian-American male actors.”
Back to my film. This story’s screenplay placed in the quarterfinals in the Oscar Award Organization’s Nicholl Fellowship competition. It will focus on my personal experiences conquering my own demons. The uphill battles I face in this story is All-American, all-human. This story even touches base on a factual side of the US Military that’s never been seen on film before. But this is not a traditional military film. I’m currently putting together my team of to help me through this next journey.
For more info about Jimmy, go to: