[TV] Daniel Dae Kim on "Life" and being "Lost"
- Specific islander;
Beth's own Daniel Dae Kim, the serious face of Lost, yucks it up
about celebrity, having a hit show -- and mary Ann or Ginger?
By CRAIG LARIMER Of Merge
In the summer of 1985, long before Daniel Dae Kim appeared in Spider-
Man II, NYPD Blue, The Hulk, Ally McBeal, Crusade, Angel, 90210 and
Seinfeld, I was riding shotgun in his 1981 Toyota Celica debating
such high school hot-button topics as: Do you have enough money for
gas? Don't you think that freshman gymnast is hot? And why are we
renting Buckaroo Bonzai on Betamax? Fast forward 20 years.
Today, Dan's a big-shot TV/film star who's home for the summer to
recharge his batteries in the Lehigh Valley before returning to
wander the shores of Hawaii as Jin on the blockbuster ABC series,
Whenever Dan is in town, the two of us get together to catch up on
life, family, work and whatever became of that smokin' hot freshman.
You have our permission to eavesdrop on a recent conversation
between the us and a plate of chicken curry.
Craig: You told me you like coming home 'cuz nobody recognizes you
here. Then we got together and went to a restaurant and we're there
exactly 10 seconds and someone comes over and recognizes you. So
that was total B.S. But are they more aware in L.A. or California of
who is an actor?
Dan: Y'know, show business is pretty much the industry. Show
business is the Bethlehem Steel of Los Angeles and everyone is
affiliated with the business somehow, everyone is hyper-aware of the
people who are succeeding. When Lost became a big hit and we came
back to L.A., it was a different city for us.
That's why it's comforting to come back to Pennsylvania, because I
only know it in the context of my friends and family and I never
expect to be treated anything other than the dork from high school
or "That Asian family."
Craig: I did want to ask you about the Entertainment Weekly cover
(Dan, surprisingly did not appear on the cover).You know, you got
totally cheesed on that one.
Craig: They had the other guys on the cover and you're every bit as
beautiful as them and why did you get knocked off? What happened
Dan: I was very happy to be included in the article at all. To have
that kind of exposure and attention put on the show is really a
positive thing. Whether I'm on the cover this time or sometime in
the future, we'll see.
Craig: Sometimes it doesn't always work out the way that you had
Dan: That's the thing. So much in my career is kind of left up to
the fates until the very last second. You never know when, and if,
you are gonna be working. You never know how long, and regardless of
how long, you don't know how much of your work is gonna wind up in
the final product.
It's really an uncertain lifestyle, so you kind of take the
victories when you can.
Craig: How did you get into all this stuff? Because I remember [you
had] plans for law school.
Dan: I actually remember being in a play at Freedom High School.
Dan: I guess you remember, too. A good friend of ours, Mark Foley,
who will always mean a lot to me and who is no longer with us asked
me to be in the play. He was the lead in the show and I remember not
only acting in the show, but painting a little portrait of him with
the rabbit behind him.
I was a huge Bugs Bunny fan so I made Harvey look -- as close as I
could -- to Bugs Bunny. And I'll always remember that play and I'll
always remember Mark.
Craig: Last night, I was watching TV, and Dan's on Seinfeld, Dan's
on Lost! It sort of terrifies me that there might be a night when
I'm watching a rerun of Ally McBeal, NYPD Blue, and Seinfeld and
Lost and Spider-Man II and The Hulk. It's the end of civilization!
Dan: And the world will implode (laughs).
Craig: You're the king of all media all of a sudden.
Dan: It's true. There have been several nights when I've been on
more than three programs at the same time and uh, that's kinda
But it's good. I'm working. Anything that lets the viewers know that
I actually speak English is a good thing.
Craig: Did you have the occasion to hang with any of the Seinfeld
Dan: I met Jerry Seinfeld. I walked into the studio and he was
already eating [cereal] and said, "Hi, Daniel. It's nice to meet
you. You were very funny in the audition." And I was completely
flummoxed and caught off guard.
Craig: He knows my name!
Dan: Yeah, and the only response I could think of at the time
was, "You're not so bad yourself." (laughs)
Craig: You did NOT say that?
Dan: I totally did.
As I was walking away sheepishly he had a grin on his face and he
knew how embarrassed I was and he said, "Yeah I do OK."
Craig: How long does it take you to get over that sort of star-
Dan: Thankfully I don't get star-struck that often. The only star-
struck story I have -- and it's gonna sound corny -- was, uh . . .
(laughs) I really don't want to say this
Craig: Say it.
Dan: I was eating in a restaurant in Los Angeles with my wife and
some friends and I heard this voice coming from the booth next door
and I froze because it was a voice I had heard throughout my
childhood at least 20 times.
And I looked over and it wasn't DeNiro or Gene Hackman or one of the
acting gods it was Julie Andrews.
Craig: Julie Andrews?
Dan: I was speechless.
Craig: Check, please! (both laugh)
Craig: Who was the absolute biggest star/stud actor you have worked
with so far?
Dan: When I did Day of the Jackal I met Sidney Poitier and was in
such awe of him; not just for his body of work, but he was as
gracious a person as he is as good an actor. He was a vanguard of
the diversity movement in film and I respect him so much for that,
respect his courage, and respect that in spite of all the challenges
and obstacles he's had to overcome, he's incredibly kind, gracious
For me, he's the blueprint for how one in his position can be.
Craig: Are you still bitter about Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton
Ohno nudging you out of the top slot for the Jade Magazine Sexiest
Asian American Male in 2002?
Dan: I can't ever hear those words uttered without me breaking out
into a cold sweat. Apolo Anton Ohno.
Craig: Who came in third? Sulu from Star Trek?
Dan: It's a good question . Yeah, I was pretty surprised that I was
up there on that poll and was surprised any of us were up there. I
wanna know who answered that thing.
Craig: With all due respect to Yunjin Kim, the actress who plays
your wife Sun on the show, your real-life wife is hotter.
Dan: (Pause, then laughter. Then nervous laughter.)
Craig: Do you guys ever have discussion about you kissing other
women on set? That's gotta come up. Cause I know it would come up in
Dan: (Laughs) Uh, yeah, it's come up and we've talked about it.
When we were first together my wife was unsure about what that all
meant. It's the furthest thing from romantic when you're really
there because it's two people under lights with 45 to 50 people
around them, with makeup people coming in and out. And she [my wife]
likes Yunjin a lot. So she totally trusts both of us.
Craig: Who would you have taken a run at, Mary Ann or Ginger? And
does it concern you that there are women who will someday say, "Who
would you rather take a run at? Jin or Sayid?"
Dan: The whole subject of hot Lost men is out there in the media,
but I'm happy to say that there is something for everyone on our
show. If you don't think that I am attractive, you may think that
Sawyer is attractive or Jack.
Craig: Yeah, but who would you have taken a run at? Mary Ann or
Dan: Um, I'd have to say Tina Louise was pretty darned hot.
Neither of them is anything to sneeze at, that's for sure ... I just
don't know how she had that huge a supply of false eyelashes on the