Throwback Thursday

What Selfie Taught John Cho About Acting, Life and... Cosplay?

John Cho Selfie Karaoke Interview

Selfie‘s series finale was released on Hulu three years ago this week — after the rom-com’s quick cancellation on ABC — but the quirky, short-lived endeavor made quite the impression on star John Cho.

“I remember working so hard on that show, but it had been a long time since I felt this way. I was so exhausted, but I felt happy in the sense that I was giving all of myself to something that I liked. My emotional memory of that show is satisfaction,” he tells TVLine.

Cho, who recently appeared in The Exorcist‘s second season, played buttoned-down marketing guru Henry Higgs in the My Fair Lady/Pygmalion update. He starred opposite Karen Gillan as Eliza Dooley, a narcissistic social media addict in need of a personality overhaul. As the season progressed, Eliza became more aware of others, Henry became a little looser, and the pair inched toward a romantic relationship.

“I haven’t rewatched it or anything, but there are little moments that I recall thinking, ‘This is what it’s about. This is why I like to do this,” he adds.

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If you watched the show, you likely remember Episode 10’s karaoke scenes. Henry takes the stage and performs a soulful, a capella version of Cat Steven’s “Wild World” as the credits roll. It’s a meaningful moment for the character, who’s clearly struggling with his feelings for Eliza. Turns out, it was a pretty big deal for Cho, too.

After recording a version of the song with music, “I was going to lip sync that day. There was a backing track,” he recalls. “Then [series creator] Emily [Kapnek] said, ‘Just do it live.'” So Cho did, with the track piped into his ear piece, “and it was very effective, because he was so lonesome and in such a blue place that it really worked.” Press PLAY on the video below to relive the moment, then scroll down for more Selfie memories.

He adds: “Also, for me, it was a turning point in how I approached acting in general. Having come from comedy, I had this inclination to push forward and to show, and to dance.” Playing Henry in that scene, in particular, “was an opportunity to be internal and to lean back, and to be still, because that’s what the character asked for. I found so many different things doing that that were not part of my toolkit before.”

Cho’s lexicon of pop culture references also benefitted from the gig. “There are so many references on that show, pop culture references that I didn’t know while we were making it. Like, really 80 percent of those references I was just…” He shakes his head sheepishly. “I’m so close to Henry, I don’t know things.”

Of course, we pressed him for an example.

“You’d think I’d know this being, like, in Star Trek, but somebody had to explain to me what cosplay was,” he says. “I remember hearing that for the first time on set and going, ‘What is that word?’ But I said that all the time on that show.” He laughs. “‘What is that word? What does that word mean? What does this mean?!'”