Mako Iwamatsu, commonly known simply by Mako, was a Japanese-American actor and voice actor. He was born in Kobe, Japan on December 10th, 1933 and died July 21st, 2006. He immigrated to The United States as a young child, later becoming a citizen. He also had married actress Shizuko Hoshi, and left two daughters (both actresses) and three grandchildren.
Mako's first film role was an uncredited one in the 1959 movie Never So Few. Later in 1965, frustrated with a lack of roles available for Asian actors he founded the East West Players company, a theatre guild for aspiring Asian actors, which he remained director of until 1989. He appeared in various films after establishing the organization starting with the 1966 movie The Sand Pebbles and also including The Hawaiians, The Killer Elite, Highlander III the Sorcerer, Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, Under the Rainbow, Sidekicks, RoboCop 3, Seven Years in Tibet, and Pearl Harbor, among various other movies and voice acting roles. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in The Sand Pebbles, and a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a musical for his role in the original of Pacific Overtures.
Mako's last leading role was in the 2005 film Cages with the last work he contributed to the animated movie TMNT which he recorded the voiced role for mere days before his death, the finished film later dedicated to his memory. An episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender also had the send-off, 'In Honour Of Mako', and gave a character in its sequel series his name. Mako has a motion picture star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7095 Hollywood Blvd.
Tropes associated with Mako:
- Cool Old Guy / Cultured Badass: His role as Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- Determinator: He completed the voice recordings for TMNT only days before his death, not to mention his early determination to be an actor despite the lack of roles.
- EndingNarration: For Dexter's Laboratory.
- Expecting Someone Taller: He typically voiced bombastic, larger than life characters and possessed a naturally deep, gravely voice... he was also 5'4".
- First-Name Basis / Only Known by Their Nickname: Very rarely do you ever hear his last name used.
- Large Ham: As the evil Aku in Samurai Jack.
- ...a role that he later made fun of in Duck Dodgers.
- You Look Familiar: He had multiple recurring appearances on MASH but never played the same character twice.