Earlier this week, Netflix announced the four young actors cast as Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko. The upcoming live-action series is (as of now) expected to be an adaption of the first season of the famous Nickelodeon series. Since the series was announced in 2018, long-time fans have tried to fancast young actors who accurately portray these beloved characters. However, with the official casting, the streaming service seems to be looking for up-and-coming or completely unknown actors for the lead teen roles. But what about the minor adult roles?
Here at Knight Edge Media, we have long contemplated what well-known actors could portray the minor adult roles for the show. We will not be fan-casting characters outside the first season like Toph or Azula, even though they are also expected to be open to any unknown actor when the second season rolls around. The casting suggestion is to keep in line with ethnically accurate roles in the series. Casting Indigenous actors as the Water Tribe, Fire Nation as Japanese/South Asian actors, and the Earth Kingdom as Chinese actors.
Without further ado…
Ken Watanabe – Avatar Roku
Ken Watanabe (Detective Pikachu, Godzilla) is an Academy Nominated actor in The Last Samurai. He has also played heroes and villains in many films. Recently, he appeared in Detective Pikachu as Lieutenant Hide Yoshida. In the film, he tries to do the right thing and uncover who killed Tim’s father. He often steers Tim in the right direction throughout the course of the film because he wants what’s best for him. The role of Roku is much about being Aang’s spirit guide throughout the show. He must steer Aang in the right direction to become the next Avatar. Ken Watanabe is of Japanese descent and is 61-years-old. His minor appearance could help elevate the show while on Netflix.
Fire Lord Ozai – Daniel Dae Kim
Daniel Dae Kim (Hellboy, Hawaii 5-0) has been part of the Avatar franchise since almost the beginning. He voiced both villains, Earth Kingdom General Fong, for an episode in The Last Airbender, and Hiroshi Sato, a non-bender with a secret hatred for all benders in the first season of The Legend of Korra. Daniel Dae Kim is of South Korean descent and has the physic of Ozai despite being 53-years-old. He is no stranger to being extremely intense when he needs to be for a role.
Uncle Iroh – Paul Sung Hyun Lee (Honorable mention is Benedict Wong)
Paul Sung Hyun Lee (Kim’s Convenience, The Mandalorian) has been a fan-favorite for many Canadians since appearing in Kim’s Convenience. He plays the show patriarchy Kim Sang-II in the now-canceled sitcom. The actor has taken the Star Wars franchise by storm by appearing in several episodes of The Mandalorian as Rebel captain Carson Teva. The self-proclaimed nerd also runs a podcast. Sung Lee is of South Korean-Canadian descent and 49-years-old. His subtle humor and caring demeanor would be perfect for the surrogate father of Zuko. The actor has mentioned on social media how honored he would be to play Iroh.
Commander Zhao – Joe Taslim (Honorable mention is Peter Shinkoda)
Joe Taslim (The Raid, Mortal Kombat) is a martial arts actor breaking into Hollywood without the hyper-realistic film The Raid. The actor has since appeared as the villains in Fast & Furious and this year’s Mortal Kombat. While Zuko seems to be the antagonist of Avatar, the real villain of season one is Commander Zhao. He is expected to be contemporary to Zuko in terms of skill. However, he is depicted as being much older than the Prince. Taslim has shown the type of villain he can play as Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat’s opening sequence. Taslim is of Indonesian descent and 40-years old.
Bato – Zahn McClarnon
Zahn McClarnon (Westworld, Reservation Dogs) has also appeared in several TV shows representing Native American culture. He has recently appeared in the Native American comedy Reservation Dogs as quirky Officer Big. In the series, he suspects the young kids of the Reservation are responsible for the recent crimes happening. However, he tries to guide them in the right way while also maintaining the law. He would make a great addition as Bato of the Water Tribe. Bato is a long friend of Sokka & Katara’s father, Hakoda. Often acting like Sokka & Katara’s uncle of sorts. Zahn McClarnon is of Lakota-Irish Indgionoes descent and 54-years-old.
Aunt Wu – Wai Ching Ho
Wai Ching Ho (Daredevil, Hustlers) has been one of the main antagonists throughout the Marvel/Netflix shows as Madame Gao. The actress has come off as a wise elderly Chinese woman in every project she has been a part of. The role of the Fortuneteller has always been the wise Earth Kingdom woman that accurately predicted that Aang was destined to be a powerful bender. Wai Ching Ho is of Chinese descent and is 77-years-old.
June – Ming-Na
In recent years, Ming-Na (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, The Mandalorian) has been seen as a hero and villain. For several seasons she appeared on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D as Agent May. However, once the series ended, she began appearing as the bounty hunter Fennec Shand on The Mandalorian. Both roles would help her bring the Earth Kingdom bounty hunter June to life. The character has a dry sarcasm to her personality to Zuko. In the show, Iroh has a small infatuation for her. So aging her up to be closer to age would make more sense as compared to the show. Ming-Na is of Chinese-American descent and 57-years-old.
Avatar: The Last Airbender will stream exclusively on Netflix