SEARCHING Star John Cho on Making the Thriller

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Searching is the new critically acclaimed thriller starring Star Trek’s John Cho and Will & Grace’s Debra Messing.  Like Crazy Rich Asians, Searching is notable for being a mainstream Hollywood film with an Asian-American lead.  Star John Cho talked about filming the movie and what drew him to it.

Cho plays a father desperately looking for his missing 16-year old daughter with the help of a police detective (Messing).  Directed by Aneesh Chaganty, Searching is presented almost exclusively through computer screens and smartphones.  The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received positive reviews, with critics praising Cho’s performance.

Describing what attracted him to the project, Cho said, “First of all, the character was someone I could really, really easily relate to. Soon as your wife gets pregnant, you start worrying.  That worrying muscle is born and before your kids born. And it never really lets up. So, I get that. I was really excited about doing… contributing to this genre, make, playing in this particular sandbox. Because I hadn’t done this kind of movie, hadn’t done a thriller. I like them. They’re making less and less of them. And so, that was the real pull for me.”

One of the biggest taboos when shooting a film is to not look at the camera.  Because Searching is shown through computer screens and smartphones, actors had to look directly at them.  Cho explained, “It was just weird. I mean, it was unsettling because I’m just doing everything the opposite of what I typically do. So, I just didn’t get a real rhythm going and I think maybe some of the discomfort was probably useful. I just didn’t have any handles to hold onto while making this movie. Yeah, it was unusual.”

Cho’s character is a father that has to dive deep into his daughter’s life and her time on the Internet.  Searching explores the positives and negatives of social media.  When asked what he wanted audiences to take away, Cho said, “I don’t know if I’m trying to put anything out there. But for me, I came to the realization that I’m online a lot more than I was willing to admit.  We’re just… I just thought it wasn’t online that much, but if you add up those minutes, it’s just, it’s a lot very quickly.”

Talking about his initial reaction to the script, Cho said, “So, for me, I said, all we have to do is advance the story. I didn’t sweat my acting that much, because I thought this story so good. All we have to do is stay true to… just tell the story. It’s a great who-done-it.”

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