The live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender is set to premiere on Netflix on February 22, 2024, and the promotional train for the series is chugging along in anticipation. Part of that effort involved an article in Entertainment Weekly where Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Fire Lord Ozai on the series, talked about his view of the character. The feature also included part of an interview with Elizabeth Yu, who plays Ozai’s daughter, Azula. In it, she teased one way the upcoming show differs from the source material.
“He’s deliciously a villain, and that’s what I sank my teeth into,” Kim told EW about Ozai. “That’s one of the things that I was really looking forward to doing. He reminded me of the Darth Vader of this show.”
That portrayal of Ozai isn’t that different than what we saw in the animated series, where Ozai leads the Fire Nation and is, among other things, not the best dad to Zuko and Azula.
“I really enjoyed exploring this idea that he was so unapologetic about the things that he believed in,” Kim said. “It actually reminded me a little bit of our political landscape today because there are certain people who take such extreme positions without apology and with the understanding that their position is the only correct position. That is how Ozai thinks, in a strange way. In his own way, he believes he is parenting the best way he knows how. He is trying to groom his son to be a successor, and he’s seeing that his daughter is naturally equipped to succeed him. So he’s trying to figure out who is going to lead this nation into the future.”
The article also includes a quote from Yu about how her character, Azula, as well as Ozai are portrayed in the Netflix show. “A lot of the O.G. series was [told] through the eyes of Zuko,” she said. “I feel like our show lets [Azula and Ozai] have their own start to their story before all the stuff that we know them to do later on.”
It’s intriguing to see what extra backstory or details we’ll get for Ozai and Azula in the new series. The good news is we have less than a month to wait and see the entire first season on Netflix on February 22, 2024.