In one of the best episodes of the all-around excellent Master of None, Aziz Ansari reveals to his friends that the Indian guy in Short Circuit 2? Not an Indian. It’s actually Fisher Stevens — yup, Fisher Stevens from Super Mario Bros. — in brownface. It’s the 1980s casually racist answer to Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Rather than simply criticize Stevens for something stupid he did 20-plus years ago, Ansari called him and asked, dude, really?
After a long conversation, I can confirm Mr. Stevens is not a villain, but was, when he took the role, a well-intentioned if slightly misguided young actor who needed a job during a more culturally insensitive time. (Via)
Stevens explained to Ansari that the role originally called for a “white grad student,” but then the film’s “director and co-writer… changed the character.” He was asked if he could play Indian, and when you’re a struggling 20-something actor, of course you’re going to yes. Ansari was impressed that rather than half-ass his impression, Stevens went “full Method” by studying with a dialect coach; he even lived in India for a month.
The whole, thoughtful piece is worth a read, especially the part where Ansari mentions that one of the best action films of all-time stars an immigrant with a “funny accent.” That would be The Terminator, and “no one really cares.”
(Via New York Times)