Takahashi stars as Alfred “Boogie” Chin, a basketball phenom in Queens who must balance his dream of playing in the NBA and the expectations of his family, in “Fresh Off the Boat” author and restaurateur Eddie Huang’s directorial debut. The film also marked the acting debut of Takahashi, who had previously never been on screen before.
Plucked right off the court, Takahashi first met Huang in an Asian basketball league in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley in 2017 and later became the director’s personal assistant. Once the movie was greenlit, the two moved to New York to begin production where Takahashi was initially in charge of diagramming the basketball scenes, however, three weeks before filming Huang cast him as the titular character.
“It was one of the most visceral experiences I’ve had,” Takahashi recalled fondly of his time acting in front of the camera. “My dad pulled Eddie to the side [when they met] and was like, ‘Is Taylor actually good at this?’ and he was like, ‘Mr. Takahashi, I would not expose your son to this if I didn’t believe in him.’”
He also discussed the importance of sharing different Asian perspectives in film and television. “It’s just very real. It’s not a Crazy Rich Asians thing,” he said, explaining how “Boogie” attempts to normalize the Asian American experience. “It’s trying to break out of these stereotypical roles that we typically see Asians in whether we’re all gaudy, extremely rich, we’re doctors, we’re kung fu masters, we’re nerds. We’ve been through some stuff as well. Not everything is pretty with us and just like you, we grind and…try to find our footing in this world.”
Takahashi hopes audiences take away more than just the basketball narrative from the movie. As the central theme is following one’s dream, he wants viewers to find inspiration in “Boogie” to follow theirs.
Watch the full interview above and catch the film in theaters on March 5.