Working, as I do, at the magazine where I work (wow, that's a nonsensical phrase, but I'm gonna keep it in there anyway) for the last 12 years, I've seen a lot of magazine covers. A lot. We're a weekly, after all. Somewhere around 500 issues, give or take.
And when I saw the mockups for the cover of this week's issue...
...two things crossed my mind:
1) It's good to see an Asian face on our cover. There aren't a lot of occasions for us to do that, seeing as there isn't a multitude of Asian movie/TV stars. We cover the business, and it's not our fault if the business doesn't give Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indian, or Taiwanese actors much work. (Yes, I'm sure I left out a whole host of eses. I know. Sorry, thespians on Surinam.) The last time we had Asians and nothing but Asians on the cover was an Oscar Race Begins issue, with Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. So, yay for diversity.
2) Masi Oka will have James Gandolfini's career, but with less awards. By that, I mean to say that he'll do great work as one overwhelmingly ethnic character—and never move beyond that. I think Gandolfini probably came to terms with that. Could be what was behind the salary renegotiations: "If I'm never gonna get to do work this good again, I wanna get paid." And everything we've seen him in where he's not playing a mobster has been underwhelming: The Mexican, The Last Castle, All the King's Men. Granted, those movies sucked but, more importantly, you didn't buy him in them. That's the problem with creating an iconic, enduring character: you can never escape it. Will Masi be able to get out from under Hiro's shadow? Would you want to see him playing, I dunno, the romantic lead, or the smart tech dude in a heist thriller, or the gay best friend? He might be able to do all of those, and do them well, but I think we'll always see him squishing his eyes, shouting "Yataaai!"