Ah, misappropriated nostalgia. It's a fanboy's Kryptonite, the one thing that can make him confused enough to think that somebody else's childhood idols are his own. Farbeit from me to accuse the upcoming Michel Gondry-directed film revival of The Green Hornet of such a thing but let's face it, what's the one thing most people know about The Green Hornet? Bruce Lee, of course. Lee was that rare sidekick that outdistanced and outshone his co-star and leading man Van Williams by a long-shot. In fact, according to studio executives at the time, one of the reasons why the movie that followed the short-lived 1966 TV show of The Green Hornet was a flop was because Lee's Kato, the loyal man-servant to socialite Britt Reid and his alter-ego the Green Hornet, was more popular than Williams's Green Hornet.
When I saw this screen test of Lee auditioning for The Green Hornet, I was floored, not just at the footage but at my reaction to it. it's hard not to look at a young 24 year-old Lee talk about being a young father and studying philosophy at college and not think of how young he died or imagine that there was a time when someone as legendary as Bruce Lee would have had to audition for a part.
The footage also reminds us that Stephen Chow was once considered for the part of Kato. He turned the job down because the role was too small. Chow is a comedian whose films often lampoon his own infamously inflated ego (He pitched a fit at a co-star on a recent shoot for getting a tan). It's hard to imagine Chow being humble enough to sit placidly and even perform for the camera as well as Lee does here.
But maybe that's a retrospective projection, one cast by someone that can't help but look at Lee as a nigh-mythic figure because he just didn't grow up watching Lee's Kato on The Green Hornet. Then again, isn't that the target audience for the new Hornet movie? When you look at this screen test, do you feel, dare I say it, nostalgic? I kind of do and I'm not even sure why anymore. Check out Lee's screen test below.