Dante Basco is an American-Filipino actor who has made his mark in both television and film. He is best known for his role as the rebellious and fearless leader of the Lost Boys, Rufio, in the movie Hook. Basco used his voice acting skills to give life to the role of Zuko in the treasured animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender.
With over 100 acting credits to his name, Basco has left his mark in the entertainment industry and on those who grew up watching him on TV and in movies.
So, what has Dante Basco been up to lately? Bangarang! Let’s get to it!
Dante Basco was born August 25, 1975 in Pittsburg, California and subsequently raised in Paramount, California.
Basco is one of five siblings; four boys and one girl. Prior to getting into acting Basco and his brothers were part of a breakdancing group called the Street Freaks.
In 1993, Basco graduated from Orange County High School of the Arts.
Break (Dancing) into Acting
Basco and his brothers did breakdancing in the streets of San Francisco and Berkley, California during the 80s, and eventually were offered professional gigs dancing for the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland A’s.
They were good enough, in fact, to be offered scholarships to the San Francisco Ballet Company. This inspired them to move to Hollywood to try to make it as professional dancers there.
They soon realized that Hollywood was more for television and film rather than a place to build a dancing career. Basco’s mother enrolled them in acting classes and, from there, Basco started getting roles in film and television series.
When Basco was just thirteen years old, he played Eddie for two episodes of the classic television show The Wonder Years in 1988.
Between 1988 and 1991 he had six roles on television series including Santa Barbara, Highway to Heaven, Booker, and The New Adam 12.
Within that same time period he starred in two films– Cold Dog Soup and The Perfect Weapon.
When Basco was fifteen, he auctioned for the role of Rufio against his brother for the1991 film Hook. There was no way he could anticipate that this role would become his most iconic.
Hook was director Steven Spielberg’s reimagining of the classic Disney story Peter Pan. Peter, played by the late Robin Williams, is forced to return to Neverland in order to rescue his children from Captain Hook, played by Dustin Hoffman. Basco played Rufio, the leader of the Lost Boys, and he becomes tasked with helping Peter reconnect with his ability to fly.
Basco and the other actors who played the Lost Boys have gone on to discuss how wonderful Williams was to work with and how he treated them like his own children. Unlike Williams, Hoffman kept up his “villain” persona on and off the set.
Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment, Basco discussed how Hoffman treated him on the set of Hook and why–
“There was a long time where he was very adversarial to me — very adversarial and I remember going: ‘I’m stressed out! This guy is Dustin Hoffman. Why is he in my ear being very adversarial!’ He would say things, and I’d be like, ‘Why would you say that to me? I’m just trying to be a good little actor.’”
Basco’s acting coach later explained to him that Hoffman was simply method acting, but that there was a way to get around it by showing Hoffman he was taking his role seriously–
“He said, ‘Do what James Dean did with Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando: he could just follow them around and ask them questions.’ So I would be on set [with Dustin] and say, ‘I just watched Lenny last night,’ or I’d start talking about Midnight Cowboy and he’d start looking at me and understanding, ‘Oh, this kid’s an actor!’”
Basco said this paid off as Hoffman became like another acting coach to him and helped him through Rufio’s death scene, “We literally filmed it for like two or three days, and he was there everyday directing me through the death scene. When you get to act that intimately with one of your heroes, it’s phenomenal.”
What did he do after Hook?
After his breakout role in Hook, Basco worked constantly in television and film. Between 1993 and 2005, Basco had twenty-four roles acting on TV or doing voices for animated series.
Basco starred in episodes of television series spanning different genres. He worked on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Nash Bridges, Touched by an Angel, Moesha, The Proud Family, and Johnny Bravo.
As for film, Basco lent his voice to another beloved Disney film, A Goofy Movie. He also starred in the groundbreaking movie But I’m a Cheerleader where he played Dolph.
Basco had roles in the films The Debut, Extreme Days, Love Don’t Cost a Thing, and Biker Boyz.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Basco would go on to voice an animated character with one of the most profound character arcs in a series, especially for a series geared toward children. From 2005 to 2008, Basco voiced the character Zuko on the epic series Avatar: The Last Airbender on the Nickelodeon network.
In a world where people can bend different elements at their will, Zuko is the Prince of the Fire Nation whose sole mission is to find and capture the Avatar, Aang (voiced by Zachary Tyler Eisen), in order to restore honor and be accepted by his father, Fire Lord Ozai (voiced by Mark Hamill).
For fifty episodes, Zuko contends with war and totalitarianism while struggling to find his place in the world and, ultimately, redemption. Along with Rufio, Basco’s portrayal of Zuko would go down as a role ingrained into pop culture history.
What is Basco Doing Now?
Basco is still acting in television, film, and even video games.
In 2010, Basco worked on the romantic drama Subject: I Love You where he played Nicky. In 2014, he had four roles in the movies JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, Cesar Chavez, Bad Asses, and Murder 101.
His most recent film role was in 2021, when he provided the voice to the character Aiden in the Netflix film Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild.
Post Avatar: The Last Airbender, Basco had a whopping twenty-two roles in television series including Community, CSI: Miami, The Legend of Korra, A Million Little Things, Drunk History, and Little Demon.
Basco used his voice acting skills to provide voices to characters in several video games.
He reprised his role as Zuko for the video games Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth and Avatar: The Last Airbender – Into the Inferno.
In 2022, Basco directed and starred in the film The Fabulous Filipino Brothers. He cast his brothers Derek Basco, Dionysio Basco, and Darion Basco to play his brothers, of course.
The vignette style movie follows the brothers as they prepare for a family wedding.
In 2019, Basco wrote and published his memoir entitled From Rufio to Zuko. Titled after his two most famous roles, Basco goes into details about his professional and personal life.
Basco decided to chronicle his life as a means to inspire and inform the next generation of actors. Speaking to NBC News, Basco said, “The story is really about me and my family, and a lot of great things we did and the mistakes we made. And if we can give the next generation something, a little blueprint, then it’s worth it for sure.”
Keeping up with the Fans
Basco has made appearances at countless fan conventions since 2009. In 2022 alone, he appeared at fourteen different conventions. He is already slated to participate in three conventions in 2023.
Like many celebrities, Basco has joined Cameo, where fans can purchase personalized messages and videos. Basco has a perfect 5-star rating from over seven hundred hundred fans on Cameo.
Basco and his three brothers are all part of the entertainment industry. His younger brother, Dionysio “Dion” Basco is also an actor. His oldest brother, Derek Basco, currently stars in the TV series Mayor of Kingstown with Jeremy Renner. Finally, Basco’s other older brother, Darion Basco, is an actor who worked with Basco on the films The Debut and Cesar Chavez.
The acting talent isn’t limited to the men in the Basco family. Basco’s niece, Ella Jay Basco, recently starred in the anti-hero film Birds of Prey with Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, and Rosie Perez.
As for his love life, Basco is in a relationship with actress Alice Rehemutula. Her Instagram regularly features pictures of her and Basco together at the beach, at family events, or just hanging out together.
It looks like Basco really Hook(ed) himself a lovely lady!