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27 Asian Leading Men Who Deserve More Airtime

Asian actors don’t often get starring roles in Hollywood, but these guys — American and otherwise — prove they’re leading men too.

1. Daniel Dae Kim

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Courtesy of ABC

 

Works in: U.K., U.S.
Claims to fame: Lost, Hawaii Five-0
Fun fact: For two weeks, Daniel played the King of Siam in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I at the Royal Albert Hall.

2. Naveen Andrews

Julian Broad for Esquire / esquire.com

Courtesy of ABC

 

Works in: U.K., U.S.
Claims to fame: The English Patient, Lost
Fun fact: Naveen has spoken about his heroin addiction and alcoholism in the mid-’90s and said he decided to get clean when he was driving drunk and scared his son.

3. Arjun Rampal

Courtesy of The Man / theman.manoramaonline.com

Courtesy of Men's Health / menshealth.intoday.in

 

Works in: India
Claims to fame: Rock On!!, Raajneeti
Fun fact: He married former Miss India and supermodel Mehr Jesia and they have two daughters, who are very likely to be drop-dead gorgeous too.

4. Daniel Henney

The Image Gate / Getty Images

Courtesy of Shanghai Calling

 

Works in: South Korea, U.S.
Claims to fame: My Lovely Sam Soon, The Fugitive: Plan B
Fun fact: He’s a print and runway model too. OBVIOUSLY.

5. Sam Milby

Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Courtesy of Men's Health Philippines / summitmedia.com.ph

 

Works in: Philippines
Claims to fame: Pinoy Big Brother, Close to You, Death March
Fun fact: Sam was born in Ohio before moving to the Philippines in 2005, and he went to the Cannes Film Festival with Death March in 2013.

6. James Kyson Lee

Valerie Macon / Getty Images

Courtesy of TV Guide / vimeo.com

 

Works in: U.S.
Claims to fame: Heroes
Fun fact: James was born in Seoul then he moved to New York City with his family when he was 10.

7. Sendhil Ramamurthy

Courtesy of The CW

Courtesy of People / youtube.com

 

Works in: U.S., India
Claims to fame: Heroes, Covert Affairs, Shor in the City
Fun fact: Sendhil could have been a hot doctor: He was pre-med at Tufts University and graduated in 1996. Instead, he’s just hot, which is also perfect.

8. Takeshi Kaneshiro

Courtesy of Emporio Armani

Courtesy of Beijing Film Studio

 

Works in: China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan
Claims to fame: House of Flying Daggers
Fun fact: As a multicultural and multilingual hottie, he voiced Tarzan in Tarzan for the Cantonese, Mandarin, and Japanese versions.

9. Julien Kang

Courtesy of Sure Magazine / sure.joins.com

Courtesy of Sure Magazine / sure.joins.com

 

Works in: South Korea
Claims to fame: Goodbye Dear Wife, We Got Married
Fun fact: Julien is Korean-Canadian and was born in Saint Pierre et Miquelon (an overseas French territory off the coast of Canada) to a Korean dad and a French mom. A+ for multi-culti beauty.

10. Godfrey Gao

 

Works in: Taiwan
Claims to fame: All About Women, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Fun fact: He’s a model and voiced Ken in the Taiwan release of Toy Story 3. Makes sense because he’s PERFECT.

11. Hrithik Roshan

Courtesy of Dharma Productions

Courtesy of Hrithik Roshan / facebook.com

 

Works in: India
Claims to fame: Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai, Koi… Mil Gaya
Fun fact: Hrithik is also a mega-fierce dancer; just watch him work that hair here.

12. Lee Byung-hun

Courtesy of GQ Korea / style.co.kr

Courtesy of Lee Byung-hun / facebook.com

 

Works in: South Korea, Japan
Claims to fame: Joint Security, I Saw the Devil, Gwanghae
Fun fact: Byung-hun and actor Ahn Sung-ki are the first Korean actors to imprint their hand and foot prints on the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

13. Raza Jaffrey

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

 

Works in: U.K., U.S.
Claims to fame: Spooks, Bombay Dreams, Smash
Fun fact: He’s the creator and co-producer of RED: The Indian Dance Spectacular, and recently played Billy Flynn in the West End’s production of Chicago.

14. Dennis Oh

Courtesy of The Class / e-theclass.co.kr

Courtesy of The Class / e-theclass.co.kr

 

Works in: South Korea
Claims to fame: Sweet Spy
Fun fact: He was born Dennis Joseph O’Neil in Georgia and attended Savannah College of Art and Design before his modeling took him abroad.

15. John Abraham

Jim Ross / Getty Images

Courtesy of John Abraham / Facebook: TheRealJohnAbraham

 

Works in: India
Claims to fame: Jism, Water, Baabul
Fun fact: Water was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2007, making it Canada’s first non-French Canadian film to receive a nomination in that category.

16. Utkarsh Ambudkar

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Courtesy of Fox

 

Works in: U.S.
Claims to fame: Pitch Perfect, The Mindy Project
Fun fact: He’s also an emcee with two EPs out: The Gold Tusk and Members Only.

17. Rick Yune

Courtesy of Legendary Pictures

Courtesy of Legendary Pictures

 

Works in: U.S.
Claims to fame: The Man with the Iron Fists, Olympus Has Fallen
Fun fact: While studying at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Rick worked as a hedge fund trader for SAC Capital, and modeled in his spare time, ‘cause you know, those are just hobbies.

18. David Lee McInnis

Courtesy of Locke Management / lockemanagement.com

Courtesy of MBC Korea

 

Works in: U.S., South Korea
Claims to fame: The Cut Runs Deep, Typhoon, Never Forever
Fun fact: David moved to work in South Korea when The Cut Runs Deep saw greater success there than in the U.S.

19. Dev Patel

Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

Courtesy of HBO

 

Works in: U.K., U.S.
Claims to fame: Skins, Slumdog Millionaire, The Newsroom
Fun fact: Dev is a martial arts enthusiast and has a first dan black belt in tae kwan do.

20. Stephen Rahman-Hughes

Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Courtesy of Stephen Rahman-Hughes / stephenrahman-hughes.com

 

Works in: U.K., Malaysia
Claims to fame: Emmerdale, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa
Fun fact: He is a part of the male opera group Teatro and was in a short-lived Glee/Kitchen Confidential mash-up called The Kitchen Musical in Singapore.

21. Christian Bautista

Courtesy of Christian Bautista / christianbautistaonline.com

Courtesy of Gold's Gym Philippines / goldsgym.com.ph

 

Works in: Philippines
Claims to fame: Your Song, A Special Symphony
Fun fact: Christian is a multi-platinum artist with at least eight albums in his discography. He was also in Singapore’s The Kitchen Musical with Stephen.

22. Steven Yeun

Mark Davis / Getty Images

Courtesy of CBS

 

Works in: U.S.
Claims to fame: The Walking Dead
Fun fact: Steven was born in South Korea and his family moved to Michigan where he attended Kalamazoo College for his degree in psychology.

23. Aaron Kwok

Andrew Ross / Getty Images

Courtesy of Aaron Kwok / facebook.com

 

Works in: Hong Kong
Claims to fame: Twilight of a Nation, Divergence, After This Our Exile
Fun fact: Aaron is only one of two actors in the history of the Golden Horse Awards to win two Best Actor Awards consecutively, the other being Jackie Chan.

24. Ken Watanabe

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Courtesy of Legendary Pictures

 

Works in: U.S., Japan
Claims to fame: Letters from Iwo Jima, Shizumanu Taiyō, Inception
Fun fact: Ken is one of only eight actors of Asian descent nominated for an Academy Award in an acting category. He was also diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 1989 but has beaten it since.

25. Rithvik Dhanjani

Courtesy of Rithvik Dhanjani / Twitter: @rithvik_RD

Courtesy of Rithvik Dhanjani / facebook.com

 

Works in: India
Claims to fame: Pyaar Kii Ye Ek Kahaani, Pavitra Rishta
Fun fact: Rithvik’s also an excellent dancer; he competed in the fifth season of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and came in third place.

26. Zaib Shaikh

Courtesy of Zaib Shaikh / Twitter: @Zaib_Shaikh

Courtesy of Best of Toronto / bestoftoronto.net

 

Works in: Canada
Claims to fame: Little Mosque on the Prairie, Midnight’s Children
Fun fact: He’s married to Kirstine Stewart, the managing director of Twitter Canada, and yeah, his Twitter account’s pretty great.

27. Harry Shum Jr.

Mark Davis / Getty Images

Courtesy of GQ / youtube.com

 

Works in: U.S.
Claims to fame: Glee
Fun fact: Harry was actually born in Costa Rica to Chinese parents who then moved to the United States. Spanish was actually his first language growing up, before Chinese and English.

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