Makoto Iwamatsu (December 10, 1933 — July 21, 2006), commonly known simply by Mako, was a Japanese-American actor and voice actor. He was born in Kobe, Japan. He immigrated to The United States as a young child, later becoming a citizen. He also had married actress Shizuko Hoshi, and left two daughters (both actresses) and three grandchildren.
Mako's first film role was an uncredited one in the 1959 movie Never So Few. Later in 1965, frustrated with a lack of roles available for Asian actors he founded the East West Players company, a theatre guild for aspiring Asian actors, which he remained director of until 1989. He appeared in many films, starting with the 1966 movies The Sand Pebbles and The Ugly Dachshund, and also including The Hawaiians, The Killer Elite, Highlander III: The Sorcerer / Final Dimension (as well as Highlander The Series), Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer, Under the Rainbow, Sidekicks, RoboCop 3, Seven Years in Tibet, and Pearl Harbor. His television appearances include M*A*S*H, The Time Tunnel, I Spy, Hawaii Five-O, The Green Hornet, Kung Fu, Mannix, Ironside (1967), and Columbo.note He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in The Sand Pebbles, and a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a musical for his role in the original of Pacific Overtures.
Mako's last leading role was in the 2005 film Cages. The last work he contributed to was the animated movie TMNT, in which he recorded the voiced role for Master Splinter mere days before his death. The finished film was later dedicated to his memory. An episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender (in which he voiced the character Iroh, until his death between the second and third seasons) also had the send-off, 'In Honour of Mako', and gave a major character in its sequel series his name. Mako has a motion picture star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7095 Hollywood Blvd.
Greg Baldwin would serve as The Other Darrin for other animated works that Mako was previously involved in.
Tropes associated with Mako:
- Cool Old Guy/Cultured Badass: His role as Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender and his final role as Splinter in TMNT.
- Ending Narration: For Dexter's Laboratory."Enter at your own peril, past the bolted doors, where impossible things may happen, that the world has never seen before!"
- Evil Sounds Deep: As he said about voicing Aku, "Evil comes from the belly."
- Evil Sounds Raspy: Aku again. Then again, he always sounded raspy even when he voiced good guys, which brings us to...
- Guttural Growler: This apparently stemmed in part from smoking, which unfortunately may have done him in, as he died of esophageal cancer.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": It's "Mah-ko." "May-ko" is the shark (and the combat vehicle from Mass Effect, named after the shark).
- Large Ham: While he was certainly capable of subtlety, his background in kabuki theater earned him a lot of scenery to chew on in his later roles. Phil Lamarr remarked how his Evil Laugh would start big, go until he had no breath left, and then just keep going!
- Nice Guy
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Yes, that was his real accent and not an exaggerated put on.
- You Look Familiar: He had multiple recurring appearances on M*A*S*H but never played the same character twice.