A good guy, HattoriHanzo from Florida, has an opinion on AAs in the movies–actually one movie, a forthcoming Tarantino flick called “Kill Bill” (Hey Hanzo, that the right title?). Click on his name to read what he has to say.
In general, most directors–including Tarantino–see no difference in East Asian actresses, or even any Asian actress from Japan to Vietnam. They look the same to them and so have no qualms about using them in roles that do not reflect their actual ethinic background. I don’t really have a problem with this. Besides the fact that I can’t even tell the difference sometimes–re: July 02 and the Alllooksame quiz–corresponding ethnicity would require many directors to avoid an actor of Mexican descent, such as Anthony Quinn, to play a Greek (Zorba the Greek), a Jew (Barrabas), or a Turk (Lion of the Desert).
Ethnic roles have always been difficult, but in Lucy Liu’s case, at least she is Asian. This is not an evaluation of her acting ability–I have seen her in “Ally McBeal” and “Shanghai Noon” and “Jerry Maguire”. The problem, if any, is the “authenticity” training. If she’s going to play a Japanese, people like Tarantino have to budget for cultural and language instruction. Get someone who could teach her how to act “Japanese” and speak “Japanese”… hmmm, anyone know anyone in Hollywood? I come pretty cheap….