Commentary &SpornFilms &Theater 24 Jul 2006 08:57 am


The actor, Mako, died Friday at the age of 72. He was a Japanese born American whose work I first came upon in Robert Wise’s film, The Sandpebbles. This is the role that brought him a well deserved Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

In 1976, I saw Mako live in Stephen Sondheim‘s brilliant musical, Pacific Overtures. As the center of the show – the reciter, shogun, emperor and American businessman – his voice dominates the soundtrack record which I played over and over until it was virtually one long scratch. His lines ever in my head. Unfortunately, I can only hear them spoken in his voice – other readings of the lines don’t work for me. It’s not the same.

In the middle of the world we float,

In the middle of the sea.

The realities remain remote

In the middle of the sea.

When it came time for me to cast my version of The Nightingale, I sought out Mako’s talent. We had shifted the Andersen story from China to Japan, and I got to play off some of those memories of Pacific Overtures. He was the consummate professional. He had just about memorized the script when he arrived; he recorded it quickly, and we parted. His voice is the strength behind my soundtrack.

Mako also was the voice of the Evil Sorcerer in Samurai Jack.

The NY Times obituary.

13 Responses to “Mako”

  1. on 24 Jul 2006 at 9:15 am 1.Mark Mayerson said …

    You’ve always had really good taste in selecting voices. I’m sure that your proximity to N.Y.’s theater community has helped, but your own interests are broad enough that you naturally select from a wider field than most producers.

    Sorry about Mako. I remember him most from episodes of M*A*S*H.

  2. on 24 Jul 2006 at 10:47 am 2.Nadia E.K. Maccera said …

    He also did the voice of Uncle Iroh on Avatar….how are they going to complete the series without him. I loved Uncle Iroh :)

  3. on 25 Jul 2006 at 9:56 pm 3.Cedric Hohnstadt said …

    Sad news. I enjoyed watching him on M*A*S*H as well.

  4. on 10 Mar 2007 at 3:46 am 4.Sabiha Karim said …

    I feel really hurt that mako has gone it will take a miracle to continue Avatar The Legend Of Aang now he made the best voice of General Iroh

  5. on 31 Oct 2007 at 7:47 pm 5.Larry Hama said …

    Bob Camp gave me the lead figure of Steve McQueen that was used in the model ship (explosion scene) in The Sand Pebbles. I sent it to Mako, but oddly, didn’t hear back from him– and then I saw the obit in the Times. He was a great guy in many ways, and will be missed.

  6. on 08 Dec 2007 at 8:03 pm 6.BFT said …

    Mako, was a very talented voice actor especially in Avatar as Iroh. My favorite TV show. And me eaither can see them go on without him. He will be missed by me and other Avatar fans too I hope.

    God Bless,


  7. on 15 Jan 2008 at 10:42 pm 7.avatar fan#1 said …

    I know it was the dialouge of the scrip who spoke the words of iroh. but I would have it no other way than of mako’s spiritual voice, he will be missed.

    travel well, mako.

  8. on 12 Mar 2008 at 2:52 am 8.Dan said …

    Mako had a great voice like no other. It is sad to see him pass. Avatar isnt going to be the same without him either, he was my favourite. =(

  9. on 20 Apr 2008 at 1:14 am 9.MIke said …

    I rember Mako from the roles he played in 4077 M.A.S.H first and many other shows and films later. His voice was one that gave a sense of serenty and wisdom strong bur not over powering. The Avatar’s brightness has dim a little.

  10. on 27 Jul 2008 at 5:49 am 10.tommy said …

    yeah he had an amzaing voice when he played iroh in the avtar it was perfect voice for the charcter a guru figure he had tons of wisdom his voice shows it

  11. on 15 Dec 2008 at 10:21 pm 11.Vlad-Banja Luka said …

    Damn, it is really sad that such a great actor died! I’m just crazy about his voice coverage in Avatar! Iroh is the wisest character ever in animated series, etc. Avatar rocks! It is something i want to show my children someday, because they could learn a lot from it!

  12. on 01 Mar 2009 at 8:58 pm 12.Christina said …

    I loved Mako. I cried when I saw him in Monk, when he guest-starred as Master Zee.

    I had come to know him as Uncle Iroh in Avatar: the Last Airbender. When I learned he had died of cancer, I cried then, too.

  13. on 02 Nov 2009 at 1:06 am 13.phoenix said …

    r.i.p Mako,

    avatar will never be the same without you=/

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