Comedy Impact Report 2011: Bigscreen Bigshots
Eager to embrace his inner psycho and totally unfazed by humiliating nudity, Ken Jeong — as the manic, more-often-nude-than-not Asian mobster Mr. Chow — not only stole every scene he was in, but won the comedy lottery with “The Hangover Part II” by making himself an indispensable part of the R-rated, half-billion-grossing proceedings. Not bad for a Detroit-born son of Korean immigrants who trained to be a doctor, pursued a standup comedy career on the side and got his big break when Judd Apatow cast him as Dr. Kuni in the 2007 hit “Knocked Up.” Since then, Jeong’s films — which include “Pineapple Express,” “Despicable Me,” “Transformers 3” and “The Zookeeper” — have collectively earned $3.2 billion worldwide.
“If ‘Knocked Up’ opened the door for me, Chow just kicked it in,” observes Jeong, who says he plans to keep doing both features and TV projects. He’s appearing in the third season of NBC’s “Community,” in which he transitioned from angry Spanish teacher to security guard; will star in and produce “The Chung Factor,” a comedy for Lionsgate that starts production next year; and has several other films in development. As for talk about another “Hangover,” he says, “I’ll be there in a shot.”