Michael Dante DiMartino: The power-hungry and arrogant Zhao was created to give Zuko a rival to contend with in his pursuit for the Avatar. We wanted to have an antagonist that wasn’t too over the top like most animated evildoers. When I wrote the character, I was really inspired by Jason Isaac’s villainous performances as the british colonel in The Patriot and Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. When it came time to cast Zhao, I used Jason Isaacs as an example of the kind of actor I’d like to get. The casting director said, “What if I can actually get you Jason Isaacs?” Jason agreed to do the role and added his wonderfully cunning, evil vibe to Zhao.