Arts & Expression, East Asian, Theatre, Film
Award winning actor David Huynh began his career journey into professional acting in 1998. David portrayed a boy who had a penchant for turning into a werewolf on episodes of the vastly popular Canadian television series, ‘The Adventures of Shirley Holmes.’ Guest starring as ‘Were Wolf’ and stirring up the life of Shirley Holmes, the grand niece of Sherlock Holmes, David made an impression on the series’ young audience viewers. However, acting on this program was not David’s first gig as a performer.
David’s active imagination and ability to immediately engage with people led him to register as a theatre student in Winnipeg’s renowned theatre school, The Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP), during the spring season of 1992. In 1993, David was invited to become a fellow actor in the company, one of the youngest members of the MTYP to receive an invitation. He joined the leagues of Canadian and Winnipeg actors such as Nia Vardalos (writer and star of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’). Spanning a nine-year stint at MTYP, from 1993 through 2002, David had performed on stage in more than 20 productions, including notable shows such as ‘The Secret Garden’, ‘Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang,’ ‘Peter and the Wolf,’ ‘The Kiss,’ Romeo and Juliet,’ ‘The Odyssey,’ and Harold Pinter’s ‘Night School.’ In The Manitoban, the provincial’s arts and culture magazine, theatre critic Andrew Young writes, “Huynh exudes a charm and Technicolor enthusiasm that hardly fits as any sort of failure in any industry’” David had also performed original plays at Fort Richmond Theatre, musicals at The Prairie Theatre Exchange and later on stages at the Sacred Fools Theatre and The Actors PlayPen in Los Angeles.
David transferred his ability as performer to director in 2001 with the short film ‘Vanish,’ a psychological story about a young man haunted by an ancient artifact. ‘Vanish’ was selected to screen at Canada’s National Screen Institutes’ Local Exposure Film Festival, and garnered three awards, including Best Director for David Huynh in the short film category. 2001 also marked an important year for David as he was cast in yet another Canadian television series, ‘2030 C.E.’ (which was heavily syndicated overseas in Europe and in Asia; David is a recognizable face in the latter), and began his post secondary education at the University of Manitoba, majoring in Dramatic Theatre and working on a minor in Film Studies.
David kept busy performing while studying, taking a lead role in ‘Micro-Nice’ a film by underground cult filmmaker Myles Langlois. Both ‘Micro-Nice’ the film and the popular subversive comic book that it is based on (created by Langlois and his brother Drue), was produced by The Royal Art Lodge. The Art Lodge is responsible for nurturing some of Canada’s most promising artists, including Marcel Dzama, whose drawings can be seen on musician Beck’s CD art cover of his 2005 album ‘Guero.’
In 2004, David Huynh made his Los Angeles stage debut in Joe Jordan’s ‘Dubya 2004’ at The Sacred Fools Theatre. There, David proved himself as a true stage actor working along side celebrated veteran stage and film actress, Jenette Goldstein (‘Aliens’ and ‘Titanic’). The play became an instant hit, and was selected as a Los Angeles Times Critic’s Choice’ theatrical production. LA Splash Magazine wrote, “The LA Weekly called (‘Dubya 2004’) ‘brilliant’ and made it its Pick Of The Week” and prominent theatre columnist Dave DePino from Backstage West magazine said “Goldstein and Huynh, functioning exclusively in the dark reaches of the tale, do fine work. Goldstein makes a fiery hero and the disarming Huynh presents all the emotional confusion of today’s youth.”
The following year, David made an appearance in ‘Mad World’, a film directed by Cory Cataldo. David played ‘Chris’, a junkie with an irresistible charm, and squared off with Gary Cairns II of ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ and Matthew Thompson of the indie hit ‘Tru Loved.’ David joined the production of ‘Little Iron Men’, a Second World War film about the 442nd Battalion, an all Japanese American company, playing real life soldier, Private Onaga. The filmmakers created a spec trailer for financing, with David portraying Private Onaga. David then was cast to play ‘Sun Kim’, a recurring character in the heavily cult followed ABC network televised series, ‘Invasion’, playing best friend to Evan Peter’s ‘Jesse Varon’. From the series, David also performed together with Alexis Dziena (‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’) and Screen Actor Guild award winner, William Fichtner (‘The Dark Knight’).
David returned to headlining roles, beginning with a stage production of Kenneth Lonergan’s masterpiece play about disillusioned teens in the famed, ‘This Is Our Youth.’ Huynh then ventured into Melissa Yu’s film, ‘Afterglow,’ taking on a lead role. The neo-noir romance story of young lovers premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and screened at the 2006 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. That same year, Huynh won the role of the titular character of Juwan Chung’s urban gangland drama, ‘Baby,’ after beating out more than 200 young Asian actors, including Aaron Yoo of 2007’s ‘Disturbia’ and Justin Chon of ‘Twilight.’ In an interview with director Juwan Chung on casting Huynh, Chung stated, “We auditioned a lot of actors. We saw actors from all over Los Angeles. We found a lot of good actors that fit the role. David was, simply, the best actor.”
While ‘Afterglow’ was touring at the 2007 Swansea Film Festival in Wales and screening as an Official Selection of the 2007 Everglades International Film Festival, Huynh was cast as the lead guest star in CBS’ ‘Cold Case – Family 8108’ as Billy Takahashi. The television episode was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (‘Top Gun,’ ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,’ etc.) and helmed by French director Jeannot Szwarc (‘Jaws 2,’ ‘Somewhere in Time,’ ‘Supergirl,’ ‘Heroes’, etc). David’s appearance on ‘Cold Case’ prompted hysteria among the series’ fans and many flocked to internet message boards cheering on the unusual quality the show had ended on. A statement on the ‘Cold Case’ Wikipedia page explains: “The episode had the rare distinction of ending with an original monologue over top of a song during the closing montage. The speech was performed by actor David Huynh, playing the character of Billy Takahashi.” In all other episodes, every narrative has ended with a musical montage and features no dialogue. ‘Cold Case – Family 8108’ originally aired 9 December 2007, again on 29 June 2008. A press release from CBS, published on 8 January 2009, stated that a rebroadcast of the extraordinary episode would air on a special night, Saturday, 7 February 2009 on the network. ‘Baby’, the feature film starring David Huynh, premiered at the 25th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF). The SFIAAFF is a festival that has served as an important launching point for new works from Asia, the United States and the Asian Diaspora by filmmakers such as Ang Lee (‘Brokeback Mountain’), M. Night Shyamalan (‘The Sixth Sense’), Gurinder Chadha (‘Bend It Like Beckham’), Kayo Hatta (‘Picture Bride’), Mina Shum (‘Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity’), Wong Kar-Wai (‘In The Mood For Love’), Tony Bui (‘Three Seasons’) and Justin Lin (‘Better Luck Tomorrow’), to name a few. ‘Baby’ premiered to rave reviews. Critics and audiences alike were drawn to the gritty, dark, dramatic film, base largely on the film’s subject matter and Huynh’s star making performance. Assistant Director of the SFIAAFF, Taro Goto, examined; “Above all, newcomer David Huynh as Baby is unforgettable, his fierce yet lonely gaze personifying the father’s metaphor of street gangs as stray dogs: ‘hungry, wild, unforgiving’.” G. Allen Johnson wrote: “A mesmerizing performance by David Huynh in the title role and excellent support work by the rest of the cast…” for the San Francisco Chronicle on the Capsule Reviews from the 25th Annual San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, and upon the film’s release, Johnson reiterates, “Baby, of course, has trouble staying on the straight and narrow, but Huynh brings unexpected depth to obligatory scenes in which the young wannabe kingpin tries to reconnect with his childhood sweetheart, his best friend and his widowed alcoholic father.” (This article appeared on page E – 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle) and Sfist.com wrote “There are standout performances….”
‘Baby’ hit the screen at the Chicago Asian American Showcase on 17 March 2007 and was the headlining film at the 2007 Korean American Film Festival New York. At the 2007 San Diego Asian Film Festival, the festival proclaimed, “Huynh’s portrayal of Baby is one of the most memorable performances in the film festival, one that must convey both ferocity and yet loneliness and vulnerability. It is rare to see a film about Asian American gang culture, even rarer to see it executed with stylized direction and a supreme cast.” David Huynh’s work and star making turn as ‘Baby’ was receiving critical reviews all actors yearn for. At the 2007 Visual Communications Film Fest, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, exhibitions and co-director of the festival, Abraham Ferrer pens, “This altogether shocking stuff, helped along by the uniformly stellar acting performances headed by newcomer David Huynh as Baby. BABY, the movie, is assured, accomplished filmmaking – and an unflattering slice of life that is rarely, if ever, told from such a perspective.” ‘Baby’ was awarded two Jury Prizes from the Visual Communications’ film fest, and David Huynh was the proud recipient of the Special Jury Prize – Emerging Actor Award. A news article recapitulation of the festival stated, “A Special Jury Prize went to ‘Baby’, directed by Juwan Chung. David Huynh, the title character of the film, won a breakthrough performance award. In a comical moment, the director held up a cell phone to the microphone for an impromptu acceptance speech.” The article appeared in FilmFestival.com and was written by Mike Takeuchi.
Soon after, the film was chosen as an official selection of the 2008 DisOrient Film Festival in Eugene, Oregon. The festival declared “The film’s acting is top notch, especially Huynh who plays the motherless Baby.” ‘Baby’ screened in the narrative competition, and won a Special Jury Prize for Best Director, awarded to Juwan Chung.
‘Baby’ was the Asian American Film Festival hit of the year. The film was acquired by Quantum Releasing and bought by Xenon Entertainment and international distributor Lionsgate Entertainment. And on 12 December 2008, ‘Baby’ was released to a limited theatrical run. Hyphen online magazine says, “Props to lead actor David Huynh for bringing a touching vulnerability to the violence of Baby’s life.” Heavy weight critic, Jeff Wong of the highly respected FilmThreat.com, writes, “Newcomer David Huynh does a good job of playing the confused lead. Mostly playing through a tough exterior, Huynh never lets go of the scared child that starts out the movie” and Cheryl Eddy, the Associate Editor of Arts and Entertainment for the San Francisco Bay Guardian affirms “. . . Huynh is a solid, sympathetic performer.”
Since the release of ‘Baby’, the film and its star David Huynh, attracted an enormous fan base, including a cult following of Asian American, independent and urban dramatic film goers, that spreads from Canada, the United States, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Vietnam, Japan, China and the Philippines. Although ‘Baby’ is David Huynh’s first starring role in a feature film, it is not his last.
Next up is Mark Tran’s ‘All About Dad’, a comedy drama about a Vietnamese American family in turmoil. ‘All About Dad’ had its world premiere at the 19th annual Cinequest Film Festival on 28 February 2009. Tamee Tanoor reviews, “Delightfully droll, yet mixed with great tenderness and humanism, ‘All About Dad’ is the first (and probably the funniest) story to address in depth the universal lives of an ignored community-Vietnamese-Americans.” The award winning actor, David Huynh, is a performer and star of stage, television and films. Already, a small buzz of David’s new film, ‘All About Dad’ has started to resonate, as David Huynh is proving himself now to a comedy dramatic genre.