This is Remy Hii
“I was always just fascinated with stories growing up. For a long time, I wanted to be a writer. I was writing a lot in school through theatre and drama classes. We’d have to put on performances but I’d always find myself writing my own things because, at the time, all of the suggested plays and stuff didn’t really reflect my experiences and tell the stories I wanted to tell,” says Remy Hii. An actor, a chef, a gamer, a writer – Hii is all of those things, but at the same time, he isn’t. He is driven by the complicated landscape of the human psyche, the desire to experience and discover new things, and the aspiration to spur social change.
Hii was born in Malaysia, but he didn’t stay long. By the time he was seven or eight, Hii had already moved to Papua New Guinea and then Australia. It was during this time that he first experienced racism. “All of a sudden, I was the odd one out,” he recalls. “It’s impossible for an experience like that not to change you. It taught me a stronger sense of self than ever before. I knew at that age that there was nothing wrong with me and that I wouldn’t be broken, no matter what.”
Hii’s first taste of acting came when he got pulled into his high school play. “That period of time, you were not only treated as an equal but you were praised for your skills and talent,” he says. “I became sort of a rock star performing in front of sold-out audiences whereas, just a couple of weeks ago, I was dodging punches from kids and being told to go back to where I came from – it was amazing.”
With that experience, Hii started to pursue acting as a career. “It was such an incredibly validating experience, knowing that we can tell these stories to the rest of the world with such a diverse cast and battle the perception that you can’t really sell a show about Asian people,” he describes, referring to one of his favorite roles as Prince Jingim in the Netflix original series Marco Polo.
Coincidentally, Hii’s next big role was part of the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a cast mainly of Asian descent in a modern setting: Crazy Rich Asians. “It was an experience that changed me and brought me a lot closer to the idea of what it means to be Asian and what we can achieve,” he says, adding that he went to visit the school where his uncle helps out and saw firsthand how much of an impact films like 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians have had on the kids there. “I’m just so honored and humbled to be in a position where I can be a part of a positive change. I don’t want any kid to feel different and feel like they don’t belong – and to be able to do that as an actor is incredible.”
But Hii isn’t just an actor. If he hadn’t been an actor, he says, he probably would have gone to culinary school. He then shares his experience of making the Cuban roast-pork sandwich from the 2014 film Chef and meeting Jon Favreau and Roy Choi. “Oh, my God, the list of ingredients was longer than a page,” he says with so much excitement. “I was out shopping for an entire day, trying to source the obscure spices, the right kind of pork, the right kind of bread. It is not easy to find Cuban sandwich bread in Australia, I might add.” After a 36-hour process (marinating a six-pound hunk of pork shoulder in a blend of spices and citrus, too), the sandwich was finally complete. “It changed my life, I wanted to cry,” he says when asked how it tasted. At the premiere of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Hii approached Favreau and told him about his 36-hour journey. Upon hearing his epic story, Favreau then introduced Hii to Choi, the creator of the famous Mojo Pork Cubanos. “It was sort of my crowning achievement,” Hii says.
At the end of the day, Hii is many things: He loves to cook, enjoys playing video games, and is always eager to learn about different cultures and languages. Among all other things, though, it’s important for him to stay true to himself: “I want to be able to say that I have no regrets and that I never left any stone unturned,” he affirms.
Writer: Kevin Chau
Photographer: Ben Scott
Stylist: Joshua Heath (@joshuaheathstylist - www.joshuaheath.com.au)
Makeup: Lisa Mangion
Videographer: Daniel Sabouné
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to Hungry Goat Cafe (@hungrygoatmarrickville - www.hungrygoatcafe.com.au) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)