Did Hoa Xuande Wear Contact Lenses in The Sympathizer? What is the Actual Color of His Eyes?

Image Credit: Hopper Stone/HBO

HBO’s ‘The Symapthizer’ leads the audience into the chaos of the Vietnam War, following it from the perspective of a spy known simply as the Captain. A spy for the Viet Cong, he is embedded in the South Vietnamese Army, but even when the war ends, his mission doesn’t stop. Despite his wishes, he has to move to America, and one thing after another leads him down a very treacherous path. There are many things that stand out about the Captain, but his eyes are particularly noteworthy.

Hoa Xuande Wore Contacts For Playing The Captain

Born in Sydney to Vietnamese immigrants, actor Hoa Xuande has brown eyes, but his role as the Captain required him to make some changes in his appearance, so he had to wear blue-green contacts throughout the duration of filming the HBO series. The use of contacts was essential because the character of the Captain is of mixed heritage (one of his parents is of French descent, while the other is Vietnamese).

His identity as a mixed-race child is an important aspect of the story and is essential to his sentiments toward the communist cause. It is one of the reasons why he feels othered by his own people and tries to find a sense of belonging wherever he can. While Xuande, who is not of mixed heritage, was cast for the role, the creators of the show knew that they needed to keep this essential aspect of the Captain’s story, so they had to make a few changes in his appearance, starting with his eyes.

Xuande went through eight months of auditioning for the role and even flew to South Korea to have a private meeting with director Park Chan-wook before flying to Los Angeles to meet with the producers of the series. It was a long and grueling process, one that not only prepared Xuande for the role but also proved that he was ready to face the challenges that the character and the story would throw his way. While his appearance was left to be taken care of by the makeup department, the actor dived into research to get in touch with the core of the role.

Xuande researched the stories of the Vietnamese people who had been there during or around the war and had their lives permanently impacted by it. His parents had also fled the country in the 80s and brought their accounts into consideration as well. Another thing that the actor needed to strengthen was his command of Vietnamese. Having grown up in Australia, Xuande confessed that he didn’t have as good a grasp of the language due to his inability to embrace it as a part of his identity because he was made to feel ashamed of being Vietnamese.

However, for the role, he decided to lean completely into the language, so much so that he didn’t just learn it but also got a hold of the “cadence and rhythm” of the language, speaking like a native Vietnamese would. He compared the process to “learning to rap,” but in the end, it was all worth it. By the time the shooting for the series started, Xuande had completely inhabited the role of the Captain, right from his conflicted mindset, his way of speaking, and his blue-green eyes.

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