Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action star, Dallas Liu, is opening up about the pressure of starring in the series as Zuko. Avatar: The Last Airbender is an ambitious project that Netflix has undertaken to create a live-action TV series based on the beloved animated show that ran from 2005 – 2008. The series is truly starting to take shape, especially now that Netflix announced Avatar: The Last Airbender’s cast. Leading the cast will be Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka, and Dallas Liu as Zuko.
Liu is a young actor on the rise, best known for his role in Tekken, PEN15, and Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings. Liu has made great strides as an actor and, despite his tender age, he has already appeared in a Marvel film and in an Emmy-nominated TV series. However, portraying Zuko in the Avatar live-action series will be, by far, the biggest role he has tackled yet. Since the animated series premiered, Zuko has shone through as one of the obvious fan favorites and one of the more complex characters. Considering Dev Patel’s miscasting as Zuko in the only other Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action adaption, the stakes are high to get Zuko right this time around.
In an interview with ComicBook, Liu opened up about the pressure surrounding his casting as Zuko. Liu first spoke on the pressure surrounding the live-action project as whole. While he has faith in the project, he understands it is no small undertaking to try to reboot a series that was so beloved by fans. Meanwhile, the fact that he is portraying one of the show’s fan favorites, Zuko, is quite nerve-wracking for him as he feels the pressure to perform especially well for his character. Check out Liu’s full statement below:
I mean, because it is such a beloved show I feel like there is some pressure to do a great job and not that I’m doubting anyone or the project at all, but this is the biggest project and the biggest role that I’ve been able to take part in now, especially leading with a character like Zuko, who’s so complex and one of, if not the favorite, one of the favorites of the show with his fire bending and his history. I mean, he’s such an incredible character and he has one of my favorite character developments in all of the animated series. So, I mean, I’m just as much of a fan of Zuko as everyone else is. So I mean, obviously I’m excited because this is like a dream, but at the same time, it gets a little nerve-wracking. You know? To do a good job, and I mean, at the end of the day I can only do what I’m capable of, but I hope that people enjoy my performance.
Liu’s feelings towards portraying Zuko are quite understandable. Attempts at rebooting the Avatar: The Last Airbender have been scarce, and M. Night Shyamalan’s adaption badly missed the mark. Meanwhile, translating a previously animated film to live-action is difficult in and of itself, considering the attachment that viewers formed to the characters. However, so far, Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender series seems to be heading in the right direction, considering the casting choices were done with respect to the original characters’ ages, ethnicities, and archetypes. In this manner, Liu already bears some likeness and relatability to Zuko. Meanwhile, his acting career and martial arts skills further prove that he is capable of taking on the role.
The pressure that Liu feels regarding Avatar: The Last Airbender is also representative of his dedication to the project. Liu himself is an Avatar and Zuko fan and has demonstrated quite thorough knowledge of the series. The fact that he feels pressure to do well, demonstrates his understanding of how important the series is for viewers and of the complexity of Zuko. In addition to this, the sneak peak Liu shared of quoting Zuko’s fan-favorite line was further proof that he has potential for the role. It remains to be seen how Liu will ultimately pull off Zuko in the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, but for now, he is demonstrating an understanding of the show and character that bodes well for his portrayal.
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