John Cho, the star along with Kal Penn, of the much-loved Harold & Kumar franchise, recently swung through the Bay Area for a press tour and to revisit old haunts.
As Harold, Cho, who graduated from Cal-Berkeley, plays the straight man to Penn’s cut-up, but even a straight man needs a blunt or two to take the edge off a busy, stressful day as a Master of the Universe, figuratively, if not literally. That, along with the subversive, satirical humor that made the first two entries in the series, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay breaths of fresh comedic air to moviegoers and video watchers starved for smart, clever, and yes, raunchy entertainment.
The Harold we meet in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas has risen from lowly, white-collar drone to a senior executive position with a corner office, a personal assistant, and more importantly, a house in the suburbs and romantic partner of his dreams, Maria (Paula Garcés). Harold’s given up on Kumar and Kumar’s pot-smoking ways, but Kumar’s inevitable reentry into Harold’s life causes all kinds of havoc and mayhem, some of it outrageous, some of it absurd, most of it R-rated for crudity, vulgarity, and raunchiness (just like Harold & Kumar fans like it).
We covered not-so-vast and not-so-sundry topics, beginning with A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas surprising topicality and connection to the current Occupy Wall Street protests. In an early scene, Harold flees his Manhattan office as angry, placard-carrying protests pelt his hapless assistant with eggs (in glorious slo-mo and 3D, of course), while Harold flees for his safety. According to Cho, this coincidence was merely a “stroke of horrible great luck. The country’s misfortune added to our joke. It was topical then and extra topical now, I guess.”
To take advantage of tax incentives, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas was shot in Detroit during the summer—challenging for a storyline based on Christmas. Cho and Penn, along with the rest of the cast, had to pretend to be cold in hot, sometimes humid weather. That they manage to pull it off without sweating distractingly on camera is a credit to everyone involved, especially the on-set assistant who toweled off the actors between takes.
Unsurprisingly, Cho was more than happy to return for another entry in the Harold & Kumar series, noting “An actor’s life is pretty nomadic. There are very few constants. It’s probably a psychological failing to need to move so often from gig to gig and create intimate relationships and then move on to other intimate relationships.”
The conversation eventually turned to the return of Neil Patrick Harris. Left for dead in the last film, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas finds a way of bringing Harris back for one more, hopefully not last, appearance in the series. Discussing the show-stopping musical number that reunites Harris with Harold and Kumar, Cho noted that, “It was the most delightful thing to film … I was up-close and personal watching the triple threat—the triple name, the triple threat—that is Neil Patrick Harris. It was just so preposterous that in Harold and Kumar we would be doing an old song-and-dance number.”
Unfortunately, time ran out before we could ask Mr. Cho about upcoming projects, including the Star Trek sequel where, once again, Cho will essay the part of Lt. Hikaru Sulu, and, of course, Harold & Kumar 4.
‘A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas’ is in theaters now.