- “This will be a piece of cake and mostly painless.”
- ―Mr. Gao
Mr. Gao is the elderly neighbor who lives near the Lee Family's Temple. For over the past fifty years, he shared his experience as a shaman associated with the Lee family's revered ancestor, Sun Yee. In his ceremonial outfit, Mr. Gao wears a yellow ceremonial robe and wields a a sword-like object with a pendant to send Mei to the astral realm during the red moon eclipse ritual which he uses to conceal Mei's panda spirit.
Role in the film
Mr. Gao is first seen playing chess with an elderly woman at the Lee Family's Temple as Mei Lee greets the elders while Mei tells him that he is ready for a rematch before arriving at the gift shop. He next appears watering peacefully on his home just as he notices Mei (in red panda form) jumping over him to which she ends up at the Lee Family's Temple.
Furthermore, on the day where the ritual occurs, Mr. Gao is seen having dinner with the Lee family while seeing spotlights decorated with the 4*Town logo just as Mei's grandmother tells them to be ready for the ritual. During dinner time, Mr. Gao shares his experience that he was a shaman for the past fifty years. He then listens to Mei's grandmother who is readying herself for the ritual just as the Lee family prepares for the ritual. As Mei wears a ceremonial red robe, Mr. Gao wears a ceremonial yellow robe and uses a chalk to draw a ritual circle to send Mei to the spiritual realm just as Mei's aunties prepare for the ritual by striking their instruments and sing a ritual song. Mr. Gao explains to Mei that the portal leading to the astral realm will only open if they sing from the hearts. As Mei's family members continue singing, Mr. Gao tells Mei to focus on their voices so that they can guide her. He asks Sun Yee to guide Mei to the astral realm for Mei to banish the red panda spirit while Mr. Gao raises his sword-like object to send Mei to the astral realm. As Mei attempts to banish the spirit, Mr. Gao holds a pendant to seal her panda form to which the plan to seal it was unsuccessful as Mei plans to go to the SkyDome to attend 4*Town's concert instead.
Later, Mr. Gao arrives at the SkyDome to catch up with the Lee family members where he climbs up to the SkyDome's rim while telling Mei's aunts to sing louder to send panda-turned Ming Lee to the astral realm to which the plan to send her was successful before the eclipse fades away.
At the end of the film when Mei and her mother reconcile in a plan to rebuild the SkyDome albeit keeping her red panda form, Mr. Gao can be briefly seen playing chess on the Lee Family's Temple grounds.
Mr. Gao has fair apricot skin, bushy grey eyebrows and hair, closed weak eyes, large ears, crinkled wrinkles above his forehead, a zit in the center of his forehead, a medium sized nose with tiny gap nostrils, small lips, and side dimples.
At Mei’s red panda ritual, Mr. Gao is seen wearing a yellow shenyi with long cuffs, a Chinese headdress, and a sash choker around his neck.
Around his peaceful neighborhood gardening slate, he wears a white singlet, with a trinity tweed flat cap atop his head, along with tan trousers and a buckle.
- Both, James Hong and Sandra Oh, who voice Mr. Gao and Ming Lee respectively in Turning Red, previously participated in the Mulan franchise as Chi-Fu and Ting-Ting respectively.
- Gao (Chinese: 高) is an East Asian surname of Chinese origin that can be literally translated as a "high" or "tall" person.
- He is a fan of Tony Bennett.