Shallow Hal actor Joshua Shintani, best known for his role playing a ukulele in the film, has passed away at the age of 32.
Shintani lived in Kauai, Hawaii. His mother took him to the hospital there early last week where doctors concluded that he had an advanced case of pneumonia, according to TMZ. As a result, Joshua Shintani died on Wednesday.
Shintani became a bit of a local celebrity in Kauai after his role in Shallow Hal. Shallow Hal stars Jack Black, a man who refuses to date anyone who doesn’t seem especially attractive to him. Suddenly, he can only see women for who they really are, and women who may not seem very attractive to others seem very attractive to him. He falls in love with a large woman, played by Gwenyth Paltrow, and sees her as a beauty queen.
Joshua Shintani scored a role in Shallow Hal when the director, Peter Farrelly, was vacationing in Hawaii and saw him strumming on a ukulele outside of a library in Waimea. The young man was just a high school senior at the time, but Farrelly signed him up on the spot to play the ukulele in the film and to say a few lines, according to the Examiner.
In 2002, the actor explained how he was approached by the director to The Garden Island.
“This red rental car comes by and the man driving passed me and stared at me and gave me this look, his mouth was open. All of a sudden he turns around and stops at the corner where I was at and he asked me to come over, and asked me if I want to be in a movie. And I was like, what?”
He could hardly believe his luck and couldn’t wait to tell his parents, four sisters, and brother. They didn’t believe him until Farrelly called with the offer.
He soon found himself on a plane to Los Angeles, accompanied by his uncle, and did a screen test for Shallow Hal. He got the part, and the rest was history.
According to the Daily Mail, he loved working with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black. He got to have his photo taken with Paltrow and asked Black how it was to be a movie star.
Shintani went by the name Li’iBoy in Shallow Hal and in real life. The directors allowed him to keep his nickname in the movie, which was pretty incredible for the teenager.
After debuting in Shallow Hal in 2001, Joshua never got to play a part in another movie, but he was recognized as the man playing the ukulele on a bench next to Jason Alexander’s character. He played the tune “Never Forget Where I’m From.”
Another highlight of his life was when he walked the red carpet in Los Angeles at the Mann Theatre in Westwood for the debut of Shallow Hal. He got to ride in a limo, was treated like a celebrity, and experienced something many people only dream of. When he returned home, his hometown had his name on the marquee at the local theater.
After that exciting time in Shintani’s life, he went to Kaua’i Community College, where he took courses in the liberal arts programs. He thought about becoming an actor after his experience in Shallow Hal, but it is not known what happened to his plans.
[Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images Entertainment]