One of the most hotly debated topics in the world right now is immigration policy in the United States, which is put at the forefront of Blue Bayou - a new, intensely grounded drama from writer and director Justin Chon. Chon also stars in the film as a man raised for most of his life by his adoptive family in Louisiana, but his Korean origins and criminal record threaten his chances of staying in America with his wife (played by Alicia Vikander) and two children. The two main leads likely sound familiar to you, but you may also recognize a few other Blue Bayou cast members and the following is breakdown of where you have probably spotted each of them before.
Justin Chon (Antonio LeBlanc)
Justin Chon plays a family man struggling to stay in his American home in Blue Bayou - his fourth feature-length directorial effort after 2015’s Man Up, the award-winning Gook (both of which he also starred in), and Ms. Purple in 2019. A California native of Korean descent, one of his first big roles was playing Brenda Song’s brother in the 2006 Disney Channel Original Movie, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, before becoming a series regular on the Nickelodeon sitcom Just Jordan and joining the Twilight movies cast as Eric.
Chon also played Jeff Chang in 2013’s 21 & Over, the lead of the Martin Scorsese-produced 2014 thriller Revenge of the Green Dragons, appeared on Community cast member Ken Jeong’s semi-autobiographical sitcom Dr. Ken, and returned to Nickelodeon for a recurring voice role on The Casagrandes in 2021.
Alicia Vikander (Kathy LeBlanc)
Playing Antonio LeBlanc’s supportive wife, Kathy, in Blue Bayou is Alicia Vikander, who earned an Academy Award in 2016 for playing the supportive wife of a transgender woman in The Danish Girl, after giving an Oscar-worthy performance in 2014's Ex Machina as a humanesque robot.
The Swedish actress made her English-language debut in 2012 with Anna Karenina, followed by another biopic (The Fifth Estate starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange), before becoming better known for blockbuster thrillers like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (a 2015 remake of the 1960s TV series), the 2016 Jason Bourne sequel, and as a part of Netflix’s Beckett cast in 2021, despite not being the center of the action. Hopefully, however, we will see the star of Julie Taymor’s The Glorias and A24’s recent fantasy epic The Green Knight return to her role as video game icon Lara Croft in Tomb Raider 2 soon enough.
Mark O’Brien (Ace)
As a police officer whom Antonio knows personally in Blue Bayou, we have Mark O’Brien - who, like Justin Chon, also does work behind the camera and made his feature-length directorial debut with the horror film, The Righteous, which he also stars in.
In fact, other than fans of Halt and Catch Fire on AMC or Showtime’s City on a Hill, fans of horror movies are probably the biggest fans of the Canadian actor also known for 2016’s sci-fi masterpiece Arrival and playing Samara Weaving’s husband in Ready or Not from 2019. O’Brien has also starred in acclaimed dramas like The Front Runner and Bad Times at the El Royale in 2018, Netflix’s Oscar-winning Marriage Story in 2019, and producer Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming AMC series 61st Street, in which plays another cop involved in situation of cultural injustice.
Linh Dan Pham (Parker)
Parker, a woman who helps Antonio better embrace his Asian heritage, is played by Linh Dan Pham, who can actually relate to Justin Chon’s character on some level, having been originally born in Saigon, Vietnam, but raised for most of her life in France.
She actually made her acting debut in a 1992 French film called Indochine before playing the title role in a German period drama called Jamilia two years later and starring mostly in European films and TV shows for much of her career, with a few more coming up. Blue Bayou is actually just her third English-language film - her first being the extremely weird sci-fi odyssey Mr. Nobody (which was actually produced in France) alongside Jared Leto and the second being Ninja Assassin, in which she is credited as “Pretty Ninja,” the same year.
Sydney Kowalske (Jesse LeBlanc)
Young up-and-coming actress Sydney Kowalske gives in a stunning performance as Antonio and Kathy’s daughter, Jesse LeBlanc, in Blue Bayou, which is only her second movie, and fourth acting effort altogether, to date. She made her debut in 2019 on the HBO Max exclusive series Doom Patrol - one of the most popular and acclaimed DC TV shows currently airing today - as a younger version of Cara Steele, the daughter of Brendan Fraser’s character Cliff “Robotman” Steele, who is played as an adult by Bethany Anne Lind.
In 2020, Kowalske starred in a short film shot during the pandemic called (Dis)Connected, and made her feature-length debut in 2021 with the Lifetime Network original, fact-based crime-thriller, Girl in the Basement, once again playing the younger version of a main character.
Vondie Curtis-Hall (Barry Boucher)
Playing a lawyer trying to help Antonio in Blue Bayou is Vondie Curtis-Hall, whose brief, memorable role in 1988’s Coming to America led to a successful career as one of those recognizable “That Guys,” popping up in films like Die Hard 2, Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down, Spike Lee’s Crooklyn, and Clear and Present Danger with Harrison Ford, to name a few.
Some of the Emmy nominee’s more prominent roles include Lt. Col. Sam Rhodes in Broken Arrow, Dr. Dennis Hancock on Chicago Hope, Captain Prince in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, and Ben Urich in Netflix’s Daredevil cast. Curtis-Hall recently starred in 2019’s Harriet, and The Night House in 2021, will appear in In the Heights director Jon M. Chu’s upcoming film Triage, and is preparing his own latest directorial effort, Residue, in which he will also star.
Emory Cohen (Denny)
Mark O’Brien’s cop character, Ace, has a racist partner named Denny, played in Blue Bayou by Emory Cohen, who debuted in his late teens in 2008’s coming-of-age drama Afterschool, before playing a troubled teen in The Place Beyond the Pines opposite Ryan Gosling and, later, joining the cast of Smash on NBC.
He would continue to appear in challenging dramas (like Hot Summer Nights, Shot Caller, and Lords of Chaos), as well as lighter pieces (such as War Machine or Brooklyn), and even some genre pictures (like Sweetheart and Flashback) and more TV (namely Netflix’s The OA). He will soon star in an upcoming Netflix series called Florida Man, Jeremy Saulnier’s next Netflix movie Rebel Ridge, and appears alongside a star-studded cast (including Oscar Isaac) in Big Gold Brick.
With a powerful and timely message many audiences can relate to and many others should be exposed to, Blue Bayou could be the golden opportunity that finally earns Justin Chon more mainstream recognition as a prominent talent both in front of and behind the camera. The brilliant performances from the cast he has acquired lend themselves well to that achievement.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.