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Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai scores BD Wong, Ming-Na Wen & more for Gizmo’s HBO Max origin story

By Benjamin Bullard
BD Wong

We’ve known for a long while now that HBO Max was microwaving up more retro tales to tell in the 1980s Gremlins horror-verse. Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai was revealed in summer of 2019 as an upcoming animated prequel series set to follow the young exploits of Sam Wing (aka the mysterious Mr. Wing from the original 1984 movie blockbuster). Now, thanks to a fresh update, it looks as though a handful of big names are joining the series’ voice cast.

A trio of big-screen alums are part of the newly-revealed acting talent that’s set to return Gizmo back to the bright light (whether he’s ready or not). Via Variety, BD Wong (Jurassic Park) and Ming-Na Wen (The Mandalorian, Mulan, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) will play the mom-and-dad duo who anchor the extended family of 10 year-old protagonist Sam (voiced by Izaac Wang) in Secrets of the Mogwai.

Told in 30-minute episodes, the series will go back in time (and all the way to China) with Sam, who in Gremlins lore grew up to become enigmatic shopkeeper Mr. Wing in the original movie. HBO Max reportedly has 10 half-hour episodes planned for Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, which will follow Sam away from his family as he and Gizmo set out on “a perilous journey through the Chinese countryside” to encounter mythic monsters and ancient spirits inspired by Chinese folklore.

No origin story is complete without an original villain, and the series reportedly has that part figured out, too: Perry Mason and The Americans star Matthew Rhys also is set to join the cast as young Sam’s nemesis Riley Greene, “a power-hungry English industrialist and treasure hunter who wields black magic,” via the report. Greene will “stop at nothing” to get his hands of Gizmo — and, of course, all the powerful secrets of the Mogwai that come with having Gizmo’s cuddly companionship.

Wen and Wong will reportedly play mom and dad Fong and Hon Wing, respectively. Fong (Wen) is a “resourceful, slyly funny and fiercely protective” mother who’s also a doctor of Chinese medicine. Hon (Wong) is more of a quiet fatherly type; a “calm rock” who’s always been skeptical about the whole Mogwai mythos. But Sam’s grandpa, the family elder voiced by Blade Runner’s James Hong, has long been steeped in even older mysteries surrounding the Mogwai…so all that quiet stoicism may be on a collision course with reality as the fates of Sam and Gizmo become intertwined.

Riley Greene (Rhys’ villain character) reportedly will be on a conflicting mission of his own: to steal Gizmo and his Mogwai secrets away from Sam. And as a wealthy titan of industry who’s bent on growing his very own Gremlin army, Greene is probably not your garden-variety small-town threat.But with his friend Elle, a “teenage street thief” voiced by Gabrielle Green, at Sam's side, at least he and Gizmo won’t be going it alone.

HBO Max hasn’t revealed a debut date for the new series, but with the story and cast locked in, it’s a safe bet showrunner and writer Tze Chun is already feeding Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai after midnight to get the series ready to go. Here’s hoping Gizmo can stay away from water — and especially Mountain Dew — in the meantime.

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