Actor Rob Schneider, who earlier this year established himself as Hollywood's foremost practitioner of the epistolary form with his infamous open letter to LAT columnist Patrick Goldstein, takes the occasion of a reference to his role in 50 First Dates in a NY Times editorial on recently deceased Pat Morita's career ("Watch Rob Schneider play Ula, a leering Hawaiian in the Adam Sandler movie ''50 First Dates,'' with a pidgin accent by way of Cheech and Chong, and you get the sense that Hollywood still believes that there is no ethnic caricature a white actor can't improve upon.") to break out his finest stationery and ply his craft in a letter to the Times. Schneider notes his half-Filipino heritage, diffusing the "condescending white actor" argument, then discusses the genesis of his character:
As for my portrayal of Ula, a one-eyed pidgin-talking Hawaiian in "50 First Dates," I based my portrayal on Ula, an actual one-eyed pidgin-talking Tongan who lives in Hawaii. I guess Adam Sandler thought I might be funnier in the role. The real Ula happened to agree with him.
However, I also believe that Hollywood should give roles to the most talented person irrespective of ethnicity, race or in my case "looks."
Los Angeles, Dec. 1, 2005
Instead of threatening a beyond-recognition beating of the editorial's writer, he's used the power of his pen to author a rousing, colorblind up-with-talent, down-with-looks-ism plea to his colleagues in Hollywood. Clearly, he's learned an important lesson about turning the other cheek (if not one about public defensiveness) after the ugliness of the Goldstein incident.