Christina: This is They Reminisce Over You. I’m Christina.
Miguel: And I’m Miguel. This week we’re going to be discussing one of our favorite actors. You know him from things such as Jurassic Park, Oz, Law & Order: SVU, Gotham, Mr. Robot. All sorts of other things, Mr. BD Wong.
Christina: AKA Bradley Darryl Wong.
Miguel: Which I didn’t know that it stood for until this week, but now I know.
Christina: Same here.
Miguel: Are you ready to get into it?
Christina: Yep. Let’s do it.
Miguel: Okie dokie.
Christina: It actually never even occurred to me to look up what BD Wong stood for. That was just his name to me.
Miguel: Yeah. I assumed it meant something, but I just never looked it up.
Christina: Just like I never looked up what the “J” in Mary J. Blige stood for.
Christina: Well, now we know.
Miguel: She’s named after weed.
Christina: All right. Back to BD Wong.
Miguel: Yeah. So what was the first thing that you can recall seeing him in?
Christina: Well, I think it was probably Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Good old SVU. Even though after looking at his IMDb, um definitely, I’ve seen him before that. But he’s one of those actors that, he’s kind of just around in everything.
Christina: And then one day you’re like, huh? You’re just like, he’s everywhere.
Christina: ‘Cause you didn’t realize you’d been watching him for years and years and years already.
Christina: So, long way of me saying SVU, Law & Order.
Miguel: Okay. Pretty much the same, like you were saying, there were things that he was in that I’d seen, but I didn’t realize that he was in it, obviously. The first thing that I do remember him in is probably Oz, even though that was around the same time as SVU? I don’t remember.
Christina: Yeah. Oz was ‘97 to 2003 and then SVU is 2001 to 2015.
Miguel: Okay. So he was on Oz first, although I had seen some things that he had been in before, like Father of the Bride. You’ve seen All American Girl, but I don’t remember seeing it.
Christina: Yeah, I know I watched All American Girl for obvious reasons. First TV sitcom with all Asian characters. And I was a big fan of, now of course I slip her name.
Miguel: Margaret Cho.
Christina: Of course her name slips me. I’m such a big fan that I just can’t remember her name.
Miguel: That woman.
Christina: You know, that woman. Sorry Margaret, I’m bad with names. Yeah, I was a fan of Margaret Cho, so, of course, when she had a TV show and it being like, your first Asian cast, I had to watch it. But, I don’t remember him specifically. I mean, I haven’t watched it since 1995.
Miguel: Right, but you will be watching it soon. The next day or so.
Christina: We ordered the DVD, the like the one DVD that was left on Amazon.
Miguel: They had one left, so we bought it. And I also saw him in Jurassic Park, but obviously didn’t remember him from Jurassic Park until going back and watching it again, years later, like, “Hey, there’s BD Wong!”
Miguel: He’s the scientist that started all of this.
Christina: Yeah. And I mean, it was 1993. He had a small but pivotal role. So I mean, he was on screen for what? Like, 10 minutes maybe?
Miguel: If that.
Christina: Yeah. But it was pivotal because he was the scientist that started it all. But it was a very short scene. ‘Cause it was just one scene too, right? When they... yeah. When they came and...
Miguel: Like, you see him briefly when they first arrive.
Christina: Milling around in the lab.
Miguel: Yeah. But he actually speaks for just a few minutes describing how they created the dinosaurs.
Christina: Yeah. And I think that Law & Order, I remember him the most from that because it’s like comfort viewing, which is kind of weird to say, consider it’s a show about special victims.
Miguel: Yes, It’s the most violent of all of the Law & Order shows.
Christina: Yes, but it was one of those things that’s like on all the time. So you just kind of have it on all the time. And as you were just saying, it’s like about violent crimes, but BD Wong was like this kind fixture in the show because he was the doctor. I think like forensic psychologist or something. So he would come in with those kind eyes and that kind smile and—
Miguel: He was the calming voice in the room.
Christina: Yeah. And so, I think that also made him stand out against the backdrop of what the show is about and he’d be like the one nice thing.
Miguel: Yeah. People getting beat up and murdered and tortured and here he comes just like, okay. Everybody calm down. And this is what happened and blah-blah-blah. And it’s the same thing on Oz too, playing a Father Mukada. There’s all this madness going on in this prison. And he’s always the calming voice, no matter what the situation is. They almost push him to the limit a few times, but he always pulls himself back.
Christina: He got beat up a couple of times.
Miguel: Yes. He’s always getting beat up. He’s been stabbed.
Miguel: I don’t remember if he ever gets shot.
Christina: He still believes in them and—
Miguel: He does.
Christina: He still believes in helping them though.
Miguel: You haven’t seen it yet because we haven’t finished the rewatch, but there does come a point where he’s basically like, I’m tired of all of you and he snaps just a little bit.
Christina: Understandably, understandably.
Miguel: But he comes back around.
Christina: I mean, the prison is cold on top of it because he always has to wear his little prison issued hoodie on top of his father uniform. So it’s like this man can’t even be warm and he’s being pushed around by these inmates when he’s trying to help them.
Miguel: And those are the characters that he plays in most of his movies and TV shows is someone that’s always trying to help.
Miguel: Someone who helps fix things or calms things down.
Christina: He has like, because he’s perfect for it. He has like, this calming voice. And he has this like, crinkle in his eye when he smiles. So you just want to like, tell him your problems. Which is probably why he often plays doctors, fathers, psychologists, therapists, and stuff. So it works for him. But, I didn’t end up finishing or continuing to watch Gotham with you. Well, we started together, but you kept watching. I didn’t. But I think that was the first time I remembered him playing like a villain.
Christina: He played Hugo Strange and I’m like, oh wait, Mr. Kind-and-Gentle can play a bad guy.
Miguel: Yeah. He plays the complete opposite. And eventually his Jurassic Park character becomes an asshole as well. But not in the first movie he isn’t. But in the more recent ones, he kind of makes that, that heel turn and becomes the villain.
Christina: Yeah. He’s like the assistant villain?
Miguel: Yeah. He’s the junior villain.
Christina: He helps the main villain.
Miguel: Yeah. But in Gotham, like you said, he is a villain. But I wouldn’t say he’s a villain. He’s more shifty than anything. Like he’s trying to serve himself. Just because he wants to prove that he can fix it. Well, it’s kind of like his other characters. He is trying to fix people in Arkham. And I just thought about it right now, but he’s like trying to change them genetically. So he’s not really trying to help him. He just tried to further his own research and whatnot by experimenting on these, these mental patients and prisoners. But at the same time, he is very shifty in the show because he has no loyalties to anybody. Basically, whoever’s going to help him or give him a deal, that’s who he’s going to work with.
Miguel: So, if he’s working with the police, they’re like, “Hey, we’ll let you go.” Done. I will give you all the information you need. If Fish Mooney shows up and she’s like, “You going to work for me and fix my problems,” he’s like, cool. As long as you don’t kill me, I’m rolling with you.
Miguel: So Hugo Strange had no loyalties.
Christina: But that mustache-less chin strap that he got going.
Miguel: And the shaved head.
Christina: Yeah. You should watch it just for that.
Miguel: It’s very Teddy Riley in the ’90s.
Christina: But Teddy Riley, wouldn’t he have a couple of little thin—
Miguel: Yeah had some, some hair or a mustache connecting the goatee, but the chin strap though—
Miguel: It was very 1990’s.
Christina: So I think, just kind of getting used to him playing like the nice doctor or, you know, the nice father or whatever. Seeing him in Gotham, I’m like, “Hey, this is different.” I can’t remember if I saw him in Gotham first playing Hugo Strange or playing Whiterose in Mr. Robot, where I saw that—
Christina: A shift from the type of character I was used to seeing him as.
Miguel: Probably Gotham, because I think that started earlier. But actually, his character—
Christina: Actually, no, you know what—
Miguel: Probably came on the scene around the same time as Mr. Robot though, so—
Miguel: It could have been both.
Christina: I think Mr. Ro– ‘cause I think we started watching Gotham…did we watch it after it had started?
Miguel: No, it was on the air. So, whenever that started.
Christina: Okay. Cause Mr. Robot started 2015 and he made his appearance near the end of the first season.
Christina: Gotham started 2016 according to IMDb.
Miguel: Oh? I guess it was first then.
Miguel: I remember it differently.
Christina: Maybe because we haven’t got back to Mr. Robot
Miguel: Yeah. ‘Cause we watched Gotham as it was airing. And then went back to it when it was on Netflix. And I caught up like a year ago.
Christina: And I think we were watching Mr. Robot as it was airing.
Christina: Well, we only watched the first season.
Miguel: We started the second season.
Christina: I don’t recall.
Miguel: We watched the first couple episodes and haven’t gone back to it yet.
Miguel: So, it’s on the to-do list.
Christina: So when I was looking up his IMDb just to, you know, see stuff that he’s been in that I could watch that I haven’t seen him in. I decided to watch 1996 movie Executive Decision.
Christina: I was like, oh, BD Wong as part of some U.S. army special forces team. I haven’t seen him shoot ’em up before.
Christina: So it’s a movie about like terrorists seizing control of an airliner, blah, blah, blah. Your typical kind of, like, you know, fantastical, terrorist movie.
Miguel: Steven Seagal is the star.
Christina: I could not sit through Steven Seagal. He had a small role. Like I said, he was part of the, the special forces team. So his role wasn’t big enough for me to sit— I could not do Steven Seagal.
Miguel: I saw it when it first came out and I haven’t gone back to watch it because it was like him and Kurt Russell, right?
Christina: Yep. ’Cause when I first started, I was like, oh, John Leguizamo’s in this movie too.
Miguel: Oh yeah, I forgot about that.
Christina: And then, I forgot his name, but he was like the, in A Different World. He was supposed to marry Whitley before what’s his name showed up to ruin the wedding. “Die! Just die!” So he was in it too. So I’m like, all right, there’s some familiar faces. But I could not with Steven Seagal. I don’t know how he became a thing.
Miguel: It was the ’90s.
Christina: Side note. Remember when we went to that hotel in Vegas and they had Steven Seagal paraphernalia in the hotel room? It was, we were staying at Planet Hollywood?
Miguel: Planet Hollywood, yeah. I don’t remember his stuff in the room. I remember something from Sylvester Stallone, but I don’t remember his.
Christina: I’m pretty sure something, there was something of his, it was like some clothing.
Miguel: It probably was. ‘Cause they had a few different things in there.
Christina: It was like some clothing piece that he wore and it was right above the bathtub. And I was like, why?
Miguel: Yeah, I don’t remember that.
Christina: This is not something you want to see when you, you know, trying to relax in the jacuzzi.
Miguel: I don’t remember that.
Christina: All right. I just had to go off on a little tangent for a second.
Christina: And then we finally watched Bird Box.
Miguel: Yeah. We watched it a couple of days ago.
Christina: We didn’t watch it when everybody was talking about it on the internet, but...
Miguel: And I wish I hadn’t watched it because he was only in it very briefly. And the rest of the movie was terrible, at least in my opinion.
Christina: Yeah, it was just a, as they say a “nothing burger.” It was just like, all right, that’s it?
Miguel: Yeah. It was a waste of two hours of my life that I’ll never get back. Even in this movie, he’s playing somebody who’s caring and nurturing and trying to save everybody in the neighborhood.
Christina: Yep. And then he basically sacrifices himself because he knew there was some risks to what he was doing.
Miguel: So again, same type of character.
Christina: All right. There’s two more things that I want to mention.
Christina: But this can go into our next segment.
Miguel: All right.
Christina: Which is, favorite performance. So, would you like to talk about yours first?
Miguel: I’m going to say my favorite performance is when he did play Hugo Strange in Gotham. And for the reasons that we talked about previously. It was different than most of the things that we see him in. ’Cause like I was saying, he was kind of shifty and sketchy and basically playing both sides and whoever would help him out that’s who he was going to help. He had no loyalty. So I think that would be my favorite one. And also, I didn’t realize he was in it until looking at his IMDb the other day, but he played a cockroach in Joe’s Apartment. And I like that movie for some reason. It’s terrible.
Christina: Joe’s Apartment?
Miguel: Yeah, it’s a movie. It’s a movie with, Jerry O’Connell. And he’s on a date.
Miguel: Or he has a date coming over and his apartment is just overrun with roaches. And the roaches can talk.
Miguel: And they’re having all these conversations with each other, like, they’re singing, they’re dancing, they’re throwing parties and shit. And he apparently was one of the voices of the roaches.
Miguel: I remember Dave Chappelle was a roach too. And a couple of other people. But the movie’s terrible. I would not recommend going to watch it if you haven’t seen it. But that also is my favorite performance because it’s so stupid.
Christina: I don’t know that movie. And I think I must have missed it when I was scanning his IMDb.
Miguel: We can look up some clips when we’re done.
Christina: Okay. My favorite performance of him is playing Akwafina’s daddy in Akwafina Is Nora from Queens. ‘Cause I love watching him play awkward dad.
Miguel: He is quite awkward.
Christina: Because he has that kind, gentle, BD Wong. But then now you have this extra layer of him being like awkward, single dad, trying to get back into dating.
Christina: And this long hair that he’s sporting.
Miguel: Yeah, the hair is hilarious.
Christina: So, that show is one of those shows where the side characters are actually better than the main character. I love her grandma, who was one of my favorite characters in Orange Is the New Black even though she didn’t say a word. And then her cousin is Bowen Yang and he’s hilarious. You know, there’s some folks feel some type of way about Akwafina, but I say it’s worth watching just for the peripheral characters.
Miguel: Yeah. And that happens with a lot of TV shows that we watch that we ended up liking the side characters better than the actual star.
Christina: Yeah. So that’s actually my favorite because it has elements of what I love about his characters, which I’ve said 500 times already, that kind gentleness. But then the awkward dad, which we haven’t seen him play. And it kind of like a funny, not kind of, it is a funny character. It’s a comedy. And so it’s a little different from what I’ve seen him in. I know he plays a comedic character in Father of the Bride, but I’ve never watched that.
Miguel: In this one though, I didn’t even realize that it was him until like halfway through the first episode when we were watching it.
Miguel: Because the hair threw me off.
Christina: That long hair.
Miguel: And I didn’t like, see the credits or anything. And I was like, is that BD Wong?
Christina: Yeah. You usually see him like with short cropped hair or like, bald sometimes.
Miguel: I was not expecting that to actually be him. It was like, oh, wait a minute. That is him. And that made it even funnier. And him walking around with the cutoff sleeveless t-shirts as well.
Christina: Did he have a ponytail in Father of the Bride?
Miguel: Yes. Yes. I think he was like, the wedding planner or something like that. I haven’t seen the second one. I think he’s in that one as well. But I’ve seen the first one. And yeah, he’s just all over the place in that too. But again, he’s not in it very much, but he’s very recognizable and makes an impact. So if you haven’t seen it, you can check it out. I like Steve Martin so I can deal with BD Wong not being in the movie.
Christina: Unlike some things we watch when we do our research, come to find out they’re in the movie for like 10 minutes, and we’ve got to sit through the rest and wonder when they’re going to pop up again.
Christina: The last one I wanted to mention is him playing a warlock in American Horror Story. This one, I would kind of consider an under the radar performance just because his role was small. I mean like, the American Horror Story series is definitely not under the radar. It’s a pretty popular series but his role wasn’t too big. But I really liked him in it because it was again, typical BD Wong. He was one of the teachers at the school for young boys / young warlocks. And again, he was the one who was encouraging and just... They had a potential student who they thought was going to become the big, fancy Supreme. And they were administering tests on him. And BD Wong was like proud papa, proud teacher when he was just going through all the tests. Passing the tests with flying colors and just doing all sorts of things. And he would just sit there beaming every time he passed a test.
Miguel: Yeah, that season was funny for me because you had him in it, you had Billy Porter in it, and I can’t think of the guy’s name, but he was like the lead of the warlock group. And he was in Ratched as well. And—
Christina: And he played the dad of...
Miguel: In Versace.
Christina: Versace. Yeah. What’s his name? The one who killed Versace?
Miguel: Andrew Cunanan.
Christina: His dad.
Christina: Yeah. He had a much bigger role in that American Horror Story season. He was pretty good in it too.
Miguel: Yeah. So the fact that they brought all these men in, kind of flipped it up a bit, and they were all just assholes basically. And I liked that.
Christina: It was just funny because they were like, in the history of warlocks, no man has ever made it.
Miguel: And that’s all they wanted.
Christina: To level four and they were just, they were trying so hard for this guy to become the first male Supreme.
Miguel: He was going to be the Michael Jordan of warlocks.
Christina: Yep. So I definitely want to rewatch that season though, just cause I don’t really remember it. And the thing about the American Horror Story series is...so it’s mostly terror and... terror and horror, but they make everything look so beautiful at the same time. If that makes any sense.
Miguel: It’s aesthetically pleasing.
Christina: It is very aesthetically pleasing. So I don’t quite remember that season too much. I watched a couple episodes for this but I don’t remember the whole story.
Miguel: Yeah, I do. But I’m not going to spend time on it here. If people would like to watch it they can. But I remember enjoying it. That’s one of the seasons that I actually watched all the way through.
Miguel: ‘Cause I kind of skip around when it comes to American Horror Story.
Christina: I’ve been meaning to watch all of them, but we just— there’s a lot of things to watch.
Miguel: Yeah, there’s a couple of them that we missed. The Freakshow and the most recent one as well.
Christina: Okay. And now I said, there’s like, one last thing I wanted to talk about, but now there’s a couple more things.
Christina: I used to love Nurse Jackie. So apparently he was in like, one episode there. But I don’t remember that either. And then there was this other TV show called Awake. So it was in 2012 and he plays a therapist. And I feel like I’ve watched the show.
Miguel: I remember the trailer.
Miguel: But I don’t think I ever watched it. And I don’t remember if you did.
Christina: I want to watch it. So it’s interesting—an interesting premise. So this man gets into a car accident where his wife and his son dies. But when he wakes up, he has these two alternating parallel lives. One where his wife’s alive and one where his son is. And BD Wong plays one of the therapists in one of these alternate realities. It’s an interesting premise and it looks like most of the ratings seem pretty good. And I feel like BD has a pretty substantial role playing one of the therapists. But I couldn’t find anywhere to stream it.
Miguel: I’m sure it’s available somewhere .
Christina: So I would like to watch that. I don’t know if I’m going back to watch it. ‘Cause I feel like I did or if I’ll be watching it.
Miguel: Yeah, I didn’t watch it. I do remember that I didn’t, but like I said, I don’t remember if it was something you were watching on your own or not. But I do remember the trailer cause I looked at it the other day.
Christina: Well, if it came out in 2012, we were already married by then.
Christina: So if I was watching it either you were watching it too or you would have known I was watching it.
Miguel: Not necessarily.
Christina: That’s true.
Miguel: There’s some stuff that I watch without you. And you watch without me.
Christina: True. But that’s because I don’t want to watch it.
Miguel: That could have been one of them. So I don’t know.
Christina: All right. So just looking at his IMDb, there was a lot of stuff that I just never watched, but like I was saying at the beginning, he’s one of those people that just kind of always seems to be in things.
Christina: But it wasn’t until I was doing research for this, that I realized just how... how much, like how talented he is in terms of playing such different types of characters.
Christina: And that he’s been doing this for 30 plus years. And by the time I saw who he was, he was already an accomplished actor because he had won a Tony way back in 1988. For a Broadway show for M. Butterfly. Which is also how he became BD Wong.
Miguel: Yes, because they didn’t want to spoil the twist in the play.
Christina: Right. So—
Miguel: He went from Bradley Darryl to BD.
Christina: Yeah, so just, this is not really a spoiler is it? But like the character he played in *M. Butterfly...*didn’t know if it was a man or a woman. So they asked him to bill himself as BD Wong instead of Bradley Darryl Wong.
Miguel: Yes. And in 1988, you can get away with that because people aren’t seeing the review on Twitter instantly after someone leaves the theater.
Christina: Right. And it just stuck. I mean it has a, I think BD Wong kind of sounds like a fancier stage name than just Brad Wong.
Miguel: I don’t know if you noticed but in his IMDb in the early early days, he spelled Brad with two d’s.
Christina: With two d’s. Yep. I did see that.
Christina: D-d. Brad-d-d. So, another thing I like to do when I do research is just to you know, look up random interviews and this and that. So my favorite thing that I stumbled upon was “BD Wong reads thirst tweets.” We’ll link to that in the show notes and in the transcripts. But even him reading the thirst tweets, he’s still responding to it in the BD Wong kind of way.
Miguel: Some of them.
Christina: Well, I mean-
Miguel: There couple of them where he, he got a little filthy.
Christina: He did, but mean, in the sense that he still did it in that like nice dad voice. So that’s what makes it even funnier he’s getting filthy while still maintaining like I’m just a nice dad—
Miguel: While wearing his Akwafina Is Nora from Queens hair.
Christina: Yeah. So that is hilarious. I would definitely recommend watching that just to get a laugh.
Miguel: And we could also link to him eating the perfect chicken wing or telling people how to eat chicken wings the perfect way or something like that.
Christina: Yeah. It’s a little GQ piece, um—
Miguel: With his fancy suit on. And he’s basically skinning chicken wings.
Christina: So, you need to watch that so then you can get one of the thirst tweets.
Miguel: Yeah, so watch the chicken wing one first and then the thirst tweets second.
Miguel: And we will link to both on the website. That’s all you got?
Christina: That’s all I got.
Miguel: Okay. So did you give your under the radar performance?
Christina: Oh, you didn’t.
Miguel: I did not.
Christina: So I said my under the radar performance of his was Baldwin Pennypacker in American Horror Story. What’s yours?
Miguel: I’m going to go back to Oz.
Miguel: Because it’s been so long and people probably don’t remember it, but him as Father Ray in Oz. That’s a nice low profile one that people probably have forgotten about, or maybe never even seen.
Christina: I need to go back and finish that.
Miguel: Yeah, it’s a wild ride.
Christina: That’s why we had to take a break. I was like I think watched enough prison... shenanigans...
Miguel: Yeah. Shenanigans is a good word.
Christina: For a while.
Miguel: I didn’t realize how theatrical it was until you pointed it out.
Christina: Yes. It feels very stage play.
Miguel: Watching it in real time it didn’t seem as much, but now, looking back at it 20 years later and seeing all the random cuts and the audio choices.
Christina: And the you know, how they do on, in stage plays, where they have like the spotlight shining down and everything else is dark.
Miguel: So it’s very interesting to watch later. So I’m going to suggest that.
Christina: All right.
Miguel: Do you have anything you would like to add about BD Wong before we wrap this up?
Christina: My suggestion, if you’re not too familiar with him is pretty much what you were saying, which is Oz. But then if you don’t really want to watch prison antics, then I would say Akwafina Is Nora from Queens. If you want something a little more lighthearted.
Miguel: Right. Where he’s just funny and a dad. And if you want something in the middle ground, go with Gotham where he’s playing Hugo Strange. He’s a little bit villainous. He’s a little bit funny. So you get both.
All right. So, gonna wrap it up here. We would like to thank you all for coming back to listen to They Reminisce Over You. If you haven’t done so already make sure to rate and subscribe on your podcast service of choice. That way we can move up the charts and get noticed. And then we can turn this into a TV show and then take it on the road. And then turn it into a movie and all that good stuff.
Christina: Turn it into a movie?
Miguel: Don’t worry about it. If Carrie Bradshaw and have her podcast and career in a movie or TV show, then we can too.
Miguel: Also, you could check out our playlists on Spotify. We link to those on the website as well. So make sure to go check out our website at troypodcast.com. You can see transcripts, links to things that we’ve mentioned on the show. So you can kinda keep up with what we’re saying. So go ahead and check that out as well. Make sure to follow us on social @troypodcast. Pretty much everywhere. Twitter. Instagram. Not Facebook.
Christina: Everywhere as in just Twitter and Instagram.
Miguel: No, we got a Black, BlackPlanet page as well.
Christina: Oh. That you don’t do anything with.
Miguel: I have not gone back to it since I signed up for it but it exists. If there’s anybody on BlackPlanet, go check it out.
Christina: Okay. You and Solange.
Miguel: Yeah, me and Solange and Justin Timberlake.
Christina: Justin Timberlake?
Miguel: No, he invested in MySpace. My bad. On that note, we’re going to get out of here and sign off now. So we will see you again in two weeks. Bye.