‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Star Ian Chen Reflects on 5 Seasons of the History-Making Comedy
Fresh Off the Boat’s Ian Chen started his acting career when he was just 7 years old. Fast forward 5 years, and now he’s a part of the first Asian-American cast portrayed on television in over 20 years.
Along with breaking the racial barriers on network television, Chen and the rest of the cast are also celebrating the milestone of 101 episodes on ABC. Chen, who plays Evan, the youngest of the Huang family, will also be making his way to the big screen in the superhero film Shazam!, premiering April 5.
As the Fresh Off the Boat Season 5 finale approaches, TV Insider spoke with Ian to get some insight on what it’s like being a 12-year-old actor.
How has it been being a part of such a popular network show for five seasons?
Ian Chen: It’s really amazing, it’s a dream come true for me, and it’s definitely really important because this was the first show featuring an all American-Asian cast in 20 years, and it was kind of like a stepping stone to having more diverse shows on television.
What drew you into becoming an actor at such a young age? Did you expect this to become your career when you landed Fresh Off the Boat?
I don’t think I really thought about that. I just thought that it would be really cool to see myself on television.
Do you face any challenges while balancing school work on top of your different acting projects?
Yeah, definitely, but I’m really fortunate to have great people in my life who really support me, like my teacher on set, my teachers at school. They’re definitely really great at helping me be able to do this.
In the episode ‘Nerd Watching,’ we see Evan fighting with Eddie (Hudson Yang). What is your relationship like off-screen with your TV brothers?
You know what? We don’t talk at all. I’m kidding! We’re also kind of like brothers as well. We sometimes horse-play around set. We all definitely hang out off-screen. It’s just like having another extended family. A very big family.
What’s one thing you’d like to do on the show that you haven’t yet?
Maybe Fresh Off the Boat should go to Hawaii or some other place!
Do you have any favorite on-set moments with your talented cast?
There’s so many that I can’t figure it out! We finished production for season 5.
What can viewers expect from Evan in the rest of Season 5?
He has a couple experiences left. I think there’s going to be really interesting things in the [last two] episodes.
What’s the biggest difference in working on a show like Fresh Off the Boat and on a major motion picture like Shazam!? Do you approach your acting style differently?
It’s really cool. You can definitely see the big differences because Shazam! is such a big budget, it has a lot more crew and you can see everything go in form together because there’s so much hard work behind it from everybody, the cast, the crew.
One main difference between Shazam! and Fresh Off the Boat is between the cast. On Fresh Off the Boat, because we’re filming in L.A. and everybody has a house in L.A., we go our separate ways after set. But with Shazam! we stayed in the same hotel, so even off set we’re still having fun.
You have a bunch of movies in the works. Do you see yourself shifting towards film more in the future?
I really like working on movies because it’s definitely an entirely new experience. For a TV show, you really don’t know what’s going to come. You can either be working on the show for one week, or you could be working on it for nine years. It’s definitely an unpredictable business. Working on movies is definitely fun because sometimes you get to go cool places to film the movie. They both have their pros and cons.
Fresh Off the Boat, Fridays, 8/7c, ABC