Stephen Chow will star as Kato and make his American directorial debut in THE GREEN HORNET, opposite Seth Rogan as the Green Hornet.
Chow's hire gives a hint to the type of movie THE GREEN HORNET will be, as his style (as described in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER) in KUNG FU HUSTLE and SHAOLIN SOCCER is kung fu-meets-Bugs Bunny.
Masked crime fighter Green Hornet, to be played by a slimmed-down Rogan, was a 1930s radio star who later appeared on film, TV and comic books. The also-masked Kato is Green Hornet's sidekick and driver.
Neal H. Moritz is the producer through his Original Film production company. he screenplay is by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, who will also executive produce the film, set to come out on June 25, 2010.
"THE GREEN HORNET is a dream project, and it's come together in a dream way," Moritz said. "Seth will be fantastic in the lead role, and Stephen was the only name on the list for Kato. The material is a perfect match for his sensibilities -- Stephen in the director's chair is the best thing for the film."
Rogen added, "Stephen was always my and Evan's first choice for director and to play Kato. We just hope that he never finds out we're not the Wachowski Brothers."
"When Seth, Evan and Neal said they wanted Stephen Chow to be part of THE GREEN HORNET, it was a fantasy," Columbia co-president Matt Tolmach said. "Now that it's happening, it's almost too good to be true. Stephen's been an important part of the Sony family for many years, so it's truly serendipitous for us to be moving forward with him directing the movie and starring as Kato."
In tapping Chow to helm THE GREEN HORNET, Sony Pictures Ent. continues a long association with the star and director. Under its local language initiative, Sony co-produced and released Chow's KUNG FU HUSTLE, which went on to gross over $100 million worldwide and received a Golden Globe nomination as well as six Hong Kong Film Awards and five Taiwan Golden Horse Awards. Sony also released CJ7.
Chow added, "I'm excited to be taking on THE GREEN HORNET -- obviously, I've been a huge fan of the show since I was a kid. The idea of stepping into Bruce Lee's shoes as Kato is both humbling and thrilling, and to get the chance to direct the project as my American movie debut is simply a dream come true. I'm grateful to my friends at Sony, who have shown so much faith in me for so many years. I'm looking forward to working with Seth, Evan, Neal, and the team at Sony, and I'm eager to get started."
Chow, Asia's number one comedy star and one of the region's most beloved entertainers, has directed five feature films, most recently CJ7.
His previous feature KUNG FU HUSTLE was the third highest grossing film in Hong Kong history after TITANIC and JURASSIC PARK. Chow made his directorial debut with GOD OF COOKERY in 1996, followed by KING OF COMEDY in 1999, both of which he also wrote and starred in. In 2001 Chow directed, wrote, and starred in SHAOLIN SOCCER, the fourth-highest grossing film of all time at the Hong Kong box office, which also broke box office records across Asia. SHAOLIN SOCCER went on to win seven major awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Actor, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Design and Best Visual Effects.
A native of Hong Kong, Chow grew up as a Bruce Lee fan and a martial arts fanatic, but he remembers that as a child his own kung fu training had to stop after six weeks when his family could no longer afford lessons. Chow started his entertainment career as the host of a TV children's show, 430 SPACE SHUTTLE. He quickly made a name for himself with his witty style, but it was not until 1988 that he began acting in films.
In 1989, in the movie FINAL JUSTICE, he played a supporting role, which won him the best supporting actor award at the Taiwan Golden Horse Awards and established him in the Hong Kong film world. The key turning point in his career came only a year later, when he had his first starring role in the 1990 Chow Yun-Fat spoof ALL FOR THE WINNER. In this movie, Chow's unique and hilarious onscreen persona -- playing his first in a series of lovable underdogs -- made him an overnight sensation in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. Asian film observers also say that in that film Chow gave birth to the "Mo Lei Tau" ("nonsense") comedy style, now considered a fully established genre of Hong Kong comedy.
Since ALL FOR THE WINNER, Chow has gradually but firmly established himself as Hong Kong's comedy king. Among his 50 some movies, JUSTICE MY FOOT won him the best actor award at the 1992 Asian Pacific Film Awards, and A CHINESE ODYSSEY won him the best actor award at the 1996 Hong Kong Critics Society Awards as well as at the Hong Kong Golden Bauhinia Film Awards.
Stephen Chow's Star Overseas recently formed a new multi-feature collaboration with Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, under which Sony Pictures Releasing International will distribute the features produced by Star Overseas worldwide.
Original Films' Ori Marmur is exec producing THE GREEN HORNET.