Netflix's live-action adaption of Avatar: The Last Airbender picked up an A-list star this week. Actor Daniel Dae Kim will play Fire Lord Ozai in the adaptation, according to a report by TV Line. This makes Kim the fifth actor confirmed the cast, and the first who already had voice-over roles in the original animated series.
Kim will play the main antagonist in Avatar, opposite Gordon Cormier as Aang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka and Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko. Kim is best known for playing Jin-soo Kwon on Lost and Chin Ho Kelly on Hawaii Five-O, but he is no stranger to the Last Airbender franchise. In the original series, he played the overzealous General Fong in Season 2, Episode 1, "The Avatar State," and in The Legend of Korra he played Asami's father, Hiroshi Sato in a total of 7 episodes.
According to Netflix, the live-action version of Ozai is a "ruthlessly-driven leader of the Fire Nation who demands everyone live up to his impossible standards, especially his teen son, Prince Zuko. Ozai's drive to conquer and unite the world under firebender rule is a family burden - he believes that it's his destiny to finish a war started by his ancestors."
In the original series, Ozai was played by Mark Hamill, but the revival is striving to cast Asian and Pacific Islander actors to better represent the cultures that this fantasy world is based on. This is in response to the critically panned live-action movie released nearly a decade ago.
Kim posted about the news on Twitter and Instagram, with the caption "It's gettin' hot in here." Fans were quick to comment with their congratulations and excitement, as many felt Kim was the perfect choice for this role. One wrote: "I'm scared for this live-action after how badly M. Night [Shyamalan] disrespected the show. Hoping for good things here, I'm excited to see you as the fire lord."
Avatar: The Last Airbender is an animated fantasy series that first aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008, and held onto its massive following thanks to streaming availability in the years that followed. The new live-action adaptation originally featured series creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko as showrunners and executive producers. However, the two left the project in August of 2020, citing creative differences from Netflix.
In February, ViacomCBS announced the launch of Avatar Studios as a new division of Nickelodeon, with DiMartino and Konietzko as its chief creative officers. The studio is expected to develop new animated series and films set in the Avatar universe, which may be released on Nickelodeon and/or on the Paramount+ streaming service. Since then, there has only been speculation about how many shows or movies may be in development, and what their content might be.
At the time of this writing, there is no release date in place for any Avatar Studios projects or Netflix's new live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. However, with the main cast in place, fans are expecting some big news soon.