Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Avatar: Original Zuko Actor Gives Advice to Netflix Star

Avatar: The Last Airbender's original Zuko actor, Dante Basco, has given both his support and advice to Netflix's live-action pick, Dallas Liu.

Dante Basco, the voice actor behind Prince Zuko in Nickelodeon's beloved animated Avatar: The Last Airbender series, has revealed that he's given Dallas Liu advice on playing the beloved character for Netflix's live-action series.

After spending years in development, Netflix's live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender is officially pushing forward towards production. Hyped as a reimagining of the beloved Nickelodeon series, the project has filled in most of the key roles for the first season, with Gordon Cormier stepping into the titular role of Avatar Aang. Netflix's Avatar also stars up-and-comers Kiawentiio (Katara) and Ian Ousley (Sokka).

Liu, meanwhile, has built up some exciting credits over the years. Most recently, he starred in Hulu's acclaimed sitcom Pen15 and put in a small appearance in Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Avatar: The Last Airbender will be his biggest project yet, and he's got an excellent role. Zuko starts the show as the primary antagonist, only to evolve into a key ally for Aang and his friends. His character development has long been praised by fans, and getting him right will be important for Netflix's Avatar.

Luckily, Liu has someone very important in his corner. Basco, who voiced Zuko throughout all three seasons of the animated Avatar: The Last Airbender, gave a Q&A at FACTS 2021 (via Avatar News) and revealed he's spoken to Liu about the Netflix series. Basco gave Liu some advice on taking on the part of Zuko, but he mainly told the young actor it's ultimately his turn to own it. Basco said:

“I just had a conversation with the new kid playing Zuko on the show for Netflix-- Dallas Liu-- and we were talking about the character, and, you know, I was kinda passing the torch, like, bro, it’s your turn to play him, how you’re gonna play him.

“I’ll tell you things about how I did it, and it could help you on your journey, but ultimately, it’s your turn to play him how you’re gonna play him, wherever that character intersects with you.”

In the years since the animated Avatar: The Last Airbender, Basco has remained very involved with the fanbase and the franchise. Earlier this year, he confirmed he had spoken to original creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino about the Netflix series back when they were attached (they departed the project last year over creative differences). Since then, Basco's involvement with the new Avatar has been up in the air, though it's clear that even if he isn't on board in an official capacity, he's still happy to interact with those making it. That Basco has lent his support to Liu as the new Zuko both speaks highly of Liu's potential in the role and is a sweet gesture from one actor to another.

Fans will want Liu to capture the essence of what Basco brought to the role, but the voice actor is right in saying it's now Liu's turn to put his spin on Zuko. As with any adaptation, elements of Zuko are bound to change with the Netflix Avatar: The Last Airbender, and those aspects can give Liu space to create a memorable performance. If he is ever uncertain, he can look to Basco, but Liu might not have to. He was cast for a reason, and fans can't wait to see what it is.



Dallas Liu will play the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation in Netflix's live-action remake.

Over the summer, Netflix rounded out the principal cast for its live-action remake of Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender. Upon landing the coveted role of the firebending Prince Zuko, Dallas Liu (recently seen in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) reached out to the character's original voice actor, Dante Basco, for advice.

"We got in a great conversation and I'm really rooting for the guy and passing the torch on," Basco said at Emerald City Comic Con Sunday afternoon. "I said, 'Look, man, we're part of a small fraternity of the guys that have gotten to play Zuko so far.' Me, Dev [Patel], and Dallas. I said, 'It's your turn.' We had a lot of conversations about the character and about the relationship with Uncle Iroh and how I played the character and what I was thinking. At the end of the day, I said, 'It's your turn, kid.'"

The Netflix project suffered a major setback last year when the original Avatar co-creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, parted ways with the company over creative differences. "The question really is, 'How do you improve on the animated version of this?'" asked Dee Bradley Baker (the voice of Appa, Momo, and Chong) during the ECCC discussion. "What does another rendering in a different space add or improve to what is already a kind of perfect work of art and a fully-rendered world? Now, I'm not saying that can't be done, but there's the bar as far as I'm concerned."

"The crazy thing is a lot of animated projects — whether it be American or anime or whatnot — we all have such a feeling about those projects," Basco added. "It's almost like, 'Have we not learned the lessons?' If you're gonna do it, do the story that's continued where we can no longer have a feeling about that scene because we've seen that scene. If you just took the characters and put them on a new adventure, then it'll free up all the artists to progress it. Because I couldn't think of an animated show that was a live-action [adaptation] that we actually like."

Nevertheless, he is hoping the live-action iteration does turn out successfully. "I don't know what's gonna happen with the new show. We're part of the Avatar family, so we always, of course, root for good things to happen. It's really interesting to see that the fans are on edge just as much as all of us."

The panel also included a live performance of "Secret Tunnel," courtesy of Baker. Afterwards, he recounted the story behind the now-iconic song featured in Book Two, revealing that he was asked to record the song at the very last minute and wasn't sure it would work.

"They sent me the demo on a tape and I just thought, 'Uh, this is not going to be good and I really don't know,'" the actor recalled. "I remember going to the session and them saying, 'Well, what do you think about this guy?' [I said] 'I think it'd be funny if he's just kind of this hippie trippy guy ... The nice thing about the Airbender universe [is that] it allows a sense of character and comedy that is not just this in-your-face attack you kind of comedy, but also an interesting character to exist. I thought I'd try choosing a weird little character and they liked it. So, we sang a little song. It's like, 'Oh...actually, that's kind of a cute little song.' And then I saw the episode and it's like, 'Ohhh, this is great. I love this.'" You never know until you see it."

Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are currently streaming on Netflix alongside the live-action film adaptation written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The streamer has yet to announce a premiere date for the upcoming remake.


Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra on Paramount+ and Netflix! Try Paramount+ for FREE at

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Originally published: December 03, 2021.

Original source: ScreenRant.

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