For John Cho, Harold and Kumar are ‘all about love’

Boys will be boys: John Cho

To a casual viewer, 2004’s “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” and its 2008 follow-up “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” are about stupidity, bodily fluids, bodily functions, illegal activity and partaking in mind-altering substances.

That’s pretty much the opposite of the true meaning of Christmas.

Yet 39-year-old, Korean-born John Cho — who portrays Harold (aka “Roldy”) in the latest in the series, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” opening Friday — asserts that the movies are really about brotherly love and family bonds.

Since the success of the first films, Cho, a UC Berkeley graduate,  has worked in TV shows and movies, including a plum role as Sulu in the 2009 “Star Trek” film. He also has become a dad.

Meanwhile, friend and co-star Kal Penn, who plays Kumar, took a job as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Returning to “Harold and Kumar” after all this time seemed unlikely. “We couldn’t play 23 anymore,” says Cho, recently in The City to promote the film. “I just felt like we had to age.”

So as the new movie begins, Harold and Kumar have grown apart. Harold is married, while Kumar still lives in their old apartment. Eventually a Christmas gift brings the friends together again and sends them on another comic odyssey into New York City.

“We’re not comedians, and Kal and I,” Cho says. “The situations are funny, but we never think about how we can be funny. I think our job is to make Harold and Kumar believable as friends.”

The actors’ Korean and Indian heritages strengthen their bond, Cho says. “America thinks about race in black and white, only two poles. We’re sort of in-between. It’s a good source of humor. But it’s also kind of double underdog status for our characters.”

The movie’s show-stopper occurs when the heroes stumble into a full-fledged musical number led by Neil Patrick Harris, a regular in the Harold and Kumar series. Cho says it was his favorite scene to film.

“It’s weird that in a Harold and Kumar movie, I would end up doing something that felt so old Hollywood,” he says.

Weird, but not so weird. “It’s all about love,” Cho says. “That’s how I see it.”

IF YOU GO

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Danny Trejo, Elias Koteas

Written by Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

Rated R

Running time 1 hour 30 minutes

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D ChristmasartsentertainmentKal PennMovies

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Planning Commission greenlights 1,100 unit Balboa Reservoir project

Development near CCSF expected to include 50 percent below-market rate units

Breed announces timeline for when SF’s businesses can reopen after COVID-19 shutdown

Restaurant advocacy group wants The City to allow indoor dining sooner

Trump signs order targeting social media companies

By Chris Megerian Los Angeles Times President Donald Trump signed an executive… Continue reading

CCSF puts Fort Mason campus on the chopping block

Faced with severe budget cuts, community college preparing to end decades-long lease

Neighbors sue city over safe camping site planned for Stanyan Street

A group of Haight residents filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a federal… Continue reading

Most Read