It has been 25 years since Singapore-born actor Chin Han made his film debut in the 1998 thriller, Blindness. Over the ensuing decades, “Your focus changes,” he reflects. “It’s still a passion, but you now understand that your craft needs to be fed and nourished by your life. So, you go live a little, travel, fall in love, develop new skills, instead of having your time be all about one thing.”
All the while, Chin Han made appearances in such movies as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011), and the 2021 reboot of Mortal Kombat, in which he played the soul-stealing sorcerer, Shang Tsung. His latest project is American Born Chinese, the Disney+ streaming from director and executive producer Destin Daniel Cretton.
“It’s a curious thing, what excites you and when, you know? We had just gone through a global pandemic over the last few years, so the idea of mortality and immortality was very much on my mind,” the actor says. “For many, I think having children is one form of immortality, so that got me thinking about fathers and sons, and that ultimately was what intrigued me enough about American Born Chinese to say yes.”
The series sees Chin Han reuniting with his Final Recipe co-star, newly-minted Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh, as well as her Everything Everywhere All at Once co-stars, Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan and Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu. “We have definitely reached an inflection point in terms of our presence in the industry,” Chin Han says. “It’s not just a question of having a seat at the table now — it’s also what we do with this seat.”
Below, Chin Han shares with A.frame his five favorite films from the 1980s.