[HOLLYWOOD] Lucy Liu - Background & Interview
- Lucy Liu
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Born December 2, 1968
New York City, New York
Notable roles Ally McBeal (1996-2000)
Charlie's Angels (2000)
Kill Bill (2003)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is ¢ (Liu).
Lucy Alexis Liu (Chinese: ¢ÓñÁá Li¨² Y¨´l¨ªng, born December 2, 1968) is
an Emmy Award-nominated American actress. She became known after
starring in the television series Ally McBeal (1996-2000) and has
also appeared in several notable film roles, including Kill Bill and
Liu was born in New York City, and was raised with her older brother,
Alex Liu (Li¨² Y¨¢ L¨¬), and older sister, Jenny Liu (Liu Jin Li), in
Jackson Heights, Queens, New York by Chinese immigrant parents.
Liu has said that she grew up in a "diverse" neighborhood; her
family spoke Chinese at home and she did not learn English until she
was five years old. Her father worked as a civil engineer and her
mother as a biochemist in China, but they sacrificed to come to the
United States. Liu, at her parents' insistence, devoted her spare
time to studying, and she attended New York City's famous Stuyvesant
High School. She attended New York University for one year, before
transferring to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where she joined
the Chi Omega sorority and graduated with a Bachelor of Science
degree in Asian Languages and Cultures. At one point, Liu worked
as a waitress in Michigan.
Liu began acting in 1989, after auditioning for a role in the
University of Michigan's production of Alice in Wonderland during her
senior year. Liu was cast in the lead role, although she had
originally only tried out for a supporting part. Liu had small
roles in films and TV (including the X-Files) before landing a role
on Ally McBeal. Liu originally auditioned for the role of 'Nelle
Porter' (played by Portia de Rossi), and the character "Ling Woo" was
later created specifically for her. Liu's part on the series was
originally not meant to be regular but the enthusiastic audience
response to the actress' 'feisty' Ling Woo secured Liu as a permanent
cast member. It also earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, as well as a Screen Actors
Guild Award nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
Liu became better known with her turn as Alex in the Charlie's Angels
movie, alongside established Hollywood stars Drew Barrymore and
Cameron Diaz. The film became a hit, earning more than $125 million
in the U.S., and a worldwide total of more than $258 million. The
sequel, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, opened to poor reviews but
was a box-office hit again, earning more than $252 million. In
between the two films, Liu starred with Antonio Banderas in
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, a critical and box-office failure.
Liu with Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore in Charlie's AngelsLiu next
played O-Ren Ishii (Cottonmouth), one of the major villains in
Quentin Tarantino's 2003 film, Kill Bill. She won an MTV Movie Award
for "Best Movie Villain" for the part. Subsequently, Liu appeared on
several episodes of Joey with Matt LeBlanc, who played her love
interest in the Charlie's Angels movies. She also had smaller roles
as Kitty Baxter in the smash hit Chicago, and as a psychologist
opposite Keira Knightley in the thriller Domino. In 2006, she played
leading lady and love interest to Josh Hartnett in the popular crime
thriller Lucky Number Slevin. Other appearances include a cameo on
the animated show Futurama and recently, The Simpsons.
In April 2006, the documentary Freedom's Fury premiered, with Liu as
executive producer. The film dramatizes the 1956 Hungarian
Revolution, climaxing with the infamous water polo showdown between
Hungary and the Soviet Union at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, known as
the 'Blood In The Water match'.
Liu's most recent role is in the drama film 3 Needles, which was
released on December 1, 2006. In the film, she plays Jin Ping, an HIV-
positive Chinese woman. Liu agreed to star in the film for lower than
usual pay because she wanted to spread awareness about the way AIDS
is improperly treated in China and Thailand. Liu's upcoming roles
include Code Name: The Cleaner, an action comedy scheduled for a
January 5, 2007 release, Rise, a supernatural thriller co-starring
Michael Chiklis in which Liu plays an undead reporter, Watching
the Detectives, an independent romantic comedy co-starring Cillian
Murphy, and Kung Fu Panda, an animated film scheduled for 2008 in
which she will voice a snake. Liu has also signed on to star in
Beautiful Asian Brides and a new version of Charlie Chan which has
been in pre-production since 2000; she will produce both films.
In 2004, Liu announced her engagement to New York playwright Zach
Helm. Their relationship ended in 2005.
In a Jane interview, she indicated that she was bisexual, saying, "I
think people sometimes get the wrong impression when they're
like, 'Oh, well, so-and-so was straight and then she was gay, and now
she's straight again,' you know? But it's like, how many times do I
have to kiss a woman before I'm gay? Everybody wants to label people.
Sometimes you just fall in love with somebody, and you're really not
thinking about what gender or whatever they happen to be. I think
that if I happen to fall in love with a woman, everyone's going to
make a big deal out of it. But if I happen to fall in love with a
man, nobody cares."
With her parents' work ethic, Liu continued, "I'm always
multitasking, doing 10 things at once". She is fluent in Chinese, and
also speaks some Italian, Spanish and Japanese, a language she
learned in preparation for her role in Kill Bill. She also rock
climbs, practices martial arts, skiis, and plays the accordion. Liu
is also an artist in several media, and has had three gallery shows
showcasing her collage, paintings, and photography".
In 2001, Liu was the spokesperson for the Lee National Denim Day fund-
raiser which raises millions of dollars for breast cancer research
and education. In 2005, Liu was appointed a U.S. Fund for UNICEF
Ambassador; in that capacity, she has traveled to Pakistan and
Lesotho, among other countries. Early in 2006, Liu received
an "Asian Excellence Award" for Visibility, since she is considered
the most well-known and visible Asian American in the media today.
She is also the first (and only) Asian-American woman to host
Saturday Night Live. Liu has said about her background, "when you
grow up Asian-American it¡¯s difficult because you don¡¯t know if
you¡¯re Asian or you¡¯re American. You get confused" and that "You need
to recognize where your background is from. I think it¡¯s important.
Just for yourself. It makes you more whole. It does."
Liu has a tattoo of a tiger on her lower back. Liu and Bill Murray
have refused to work with each other after a tense relationship on
the set of Charlie's Angels.
Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Beautiful Asian Brides (2008)
Watching the Detectives (2007)
The Cleaner (2007)
Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
The Simpsons - Episode "Goo Goo Gai Pan" (2006 guest appearance)
3 Needles (2005)
Joey (2004 guest appearance)
Mulan II (2004)
Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)
Sex and the City - Episode "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" (2001 guest
Futurama (2001 guest appearance)-Episodes "I Dated a Robot" and "Love
Charlie's Angels (2000)
Shanghai Noon (2000)
Play It to the Bone (1999)
The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human (1999)
True Crime (1999)
Ally McBeal (Seasons 2-5, 1998-2002)
Love Kills (1998)
City of Industry (1997)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
The X-Files - Episode "Hell Money" (1996 guest appearance)
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995) "The March to Freedom"
Rhythm of Destiny (°éÎÒ¿vM) (1992)
Maya and Miguel
Jackie Chan Adventures
SSX Tricky (video game)
Lucy Liu Interview, CodeName The Cleaner
We had a chance to talk to the very lovely Lucy Liu about her
upcoming role in CodeName The Cleaners. A native New Yorker, Lucy Liu
attended NYU and later received a Bachelor of Science degree in Asian
Languages and Cultures from the University of Michigan. During her
senior year at Michigan, she auditioned for a student theater
production of Andre Gregory's adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland."
Hoping to be cast in a supporting role, Liu was instead cast as the
lead. Her acting career was born.
Liu's blossoming film career was thrust into over-drive when she
starred with Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore in Columbia Tri-Star's
blockbuster hit, Charlie¡¯s Angels, and its sequel, Charlie¡¯s Angels:
Full Throttle. Liu¡¯s career was further solidified when she starred
opposite Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's critically acclaimed film
for Miramax, Kill Bill: Volume I and in the second installment, Kill
Bill: Volume II.
In smaller release, Liu will also next seen in 3 Needles, due out in
December and in the Sebastian Gutierrez supernatural thriller Rise,
co-starring Michael Chiklis. Liu has also lent her voice to the
DreamWorks animation film Kung Fu Panda set for a 2008 release. Lucy
has also been signed on to star in Beautiful Asian Brides and will
also produce the film with Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer and
Ron Howard. Liu recently completed production on Watching The
Detectives, a romantic comedy co-starring Cillian Murphy.
Liu recently made her debut as producer with Freedom¡¯s Fury, a
documentary on the 1956 Olympic semifinal water polo match between
Hungary and Russia. Held in Australia, the match occurred as Russian
forces were in Budapest, stomping out a popular revolt. She has also
signed a deal to executive produce and star in a contemporary big-
screen version of Charlie Chan for Twentieth Century Fox. Liu's
recent film credits include Lucky Number Slevin opposite Josh
Hartnett and Ben Kingsley and Tony Scott¡¯s Domino. Other credits
include roles opposite Jackie Chan in Universal's hit comedy Shanghai
Noon; opposite Mel Gibson in Payback; opposite Antonio Banderas and
Woody Harrelson in Touchstone Pictures' Play It To The Bone; another
role opposite Banderas in the action-thriller Ballistic: Ecks vs.
Sever; and a cameo role in the Oscar-winning film, Chicago.
On television, Liu appeared as the unforgettable 'Ling Woo' in the
hit Fox series, "Ally McBeal," a role for which she scored an Emmy
nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, as
well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Actress in a
Comedy Series. She guest-starred on HBO's "Sex & the City" as well as
on "Joey¡± and has lent her voice to such animated series as "The
Simpsons," "Futurama" and "King of the Hill." In 2005 Lucy Liu was
appointed U.S. Fund for UNICEF Ambassador. Her devoted work with
UNICEF has taken her to the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan
to visit with survivors of the October 8, 2005 earthquake. To witness
the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and communities, Lucy traveled to
Lesotho in August 2005. Lucy continues to lend her time and name to
the cause. Without further ado here is what she had to say:
Q: Did you enjoy the action element of this movie?
LL: I enjoyed it. I love doing it, but I think they love me doing it
more because I was like, ¡®I don¡¯t think that we should do that much
fighting, you know.¡¯ They were like, ¡®You have to do fighting!¡¯ And
actually when I did the test for the movie, people were just
like, ¡®When the fighting started, they were so excited about it.¡¯ I
wasn¡¯t there for the test, but my managers went, and they¡¯re
like, ¡®There¡¯s just an energy that radiates from the audiences when
you just start doing action.¡¯ I was like, ¡®Uh, how is that possible!¡¯
Q: So you¡¯re from Queens?
LL: Jackson Heights. Mmhmm. I went to I.S. 145. [laughs]
Q: Do you think being from Queens helps you play this tough character?
LL: I grew up in an area where there were all kinds of people. It was
very diverse and people in New York are very direct. They don¡¯t beat
around the bush. They¡¯re like, ¡®What¡¯s going on? What do you want?¡¯
[Laughs] It¡¯s not that they¡¯re impolite. They¡¯re just very direct,
and they don¡¯t have time to like, you know, mess around, and I think
that this character is very spicy and very sassy, and I think that I
enjoyed playing her because she has that little quality of
directness, and you know I think that people in Queens also
gesticulate. They talk a lot with their heads and their hands, and so
she does this little pawing thing with Jake because it¡¯s like a
physical thing, and people who are involved in relationships are
physical, whether they¡¯re holding each other or pawing at each other.
You know what I mean?
Q: So is being sassy and direct different from how you are in real
LL: I still think I have retained that. I think I just took to a
little more extreme in the movie. I don¡¯t think if I disagree with
someone I¡¯ll start doing the windmills on them! At least not the
first or second time. Maybe the third time they¡¯re not listening,
then the windmills come out.
Q: The director was saying the night of the bubble bath scene with
you and Nicolette, it was wet and cold.
LL: First of all we shot it at like 3 in the morning. We were doing
nights and you know we¡¯re in lingerie, and the scene was supposed to
be in the kiddie pool. It¡¯s like, ¡®Okay, kiddie pool, winter,
lingerie -- we need to put some bubbles in you know because it¡¯s more
fun with bubbles.¡¯ And bubbles kept disappearing. They just kept like
literally dissipating, so they had to keep filling the thing with
bubbles and shooting and shooting.
Q: How cold were you?
LL: Freezing. They had a robe once we got out of the pool. I
literally at one point in the film was like this [does the ¡®cut¡¯
gesture across her throat], meaning, ¡®That¡¯s the end. You¡¯ve got
enough romping in the pool for you guys, for the fantasy moment.¡¯
Q: The director said all the crew showed up that night!
LL: Oh yeah. All of a sudden everyone¡¯s there at 3 o¡¯clock in the
morning. Normally, people are like, ¡®I¡¯m going to bed!¡¯ Suddenly
everybody¡¯s there. Like it was a dance party. I was like, ¡®Hello!¡¯ We
were the only people that were onstage. [laughs]
Q: What was Nicolette like?
LL: She was great. She was totally open. She¡¯s like doing the splits.
I was like, ¡®Girl, I¡¯ve got to learn some moves from you!¡¯
Q: What¡¯s the Charlie Chan movie that¡¯s coming up?
LL: Well Charlie Chan movie, it¡¯s been 6 years in the making, and
we¡¯re still working on the script, but there¡¯s definitely going to be
some action in it. I think that¡¯s going to be important. It¡¯s going
to be modern day and it¡¯s going to be Charlie Chan¡¯s granddaughter,
so we¡¯re going to try to modernize it.
Q: What about Kung Fu Panda?
LL: Kung Fu Panda!
Q: Sounds like an action-animation movie.
LL: Yeah it is. Jack Black is the lead as this big giant panda and
there¡¯s all these other animals who have been training all their
lives and suddenly he¡¯s The Chosen One. And everyone¡¯s like, ¡®How¡¯s
this giant panda The Chosen One?¡¯ He trains with all of these
animals, and she is this beautiful snake, and she¡¯s got these lashes
and she works with umbrellas and stuff like that, like tools.
Q: What about your other projects, "Watching the Detectives,¡± "Devil
to Pay,¡± and "Rise¡±?
LL: I think ¡®Devil to Pay¡¯ is not happening right now, and ¡®Rise¡¯ is
something we shot awhile ago, and ¡®Watching the Detectives¡¯ is a
romantic comedy that I shot with Cillian Murphy over the summer, so
that¡¯s an indie, a very small movie. They¡¯re all really different.
Q: Is that what you look for when you pick projects ¨C like you want
it to be different from your last one?
LL: Well no, I don¡¯t try to do things that are that different. ¡®Oh, I
did a comedy. I can¡¯t do another comedy.¡¯ It¡¯s more if I¡¯m drawn to
something I¡¯ll do it, but I don¡¯t always say, ¡®Okay I only want to do
comedy, I only want to do drama, or I only want to do television.¡¯ I
think it¡¯s just nice to mix it up. As long as you connect to it, I
think that¡¯s the most important thing.
Q: Did you know Cedric before you started working together?
LL: No. We had lunch together. They wanted me to do the movie. I
said, ¡®I¡¯m not sure.¡¯ Because the girl was pretty straight at that
point, and we had lunch together, and I just fell in love with
him ¡®cause he¡¯s just amazing and warm and you know he tricked me.
[laughs]. He spiked my drink! And I was like, ¡®Alright, I¡¯ll sign on
the dotted line!¡¯ No, you want to be around him, you want to be in
his energy, you want to be in his space, and he also was very open to
my creative ideas, and that¡¯s also such a huge plus for me to be able
to say, ¡®Okay, well I can get in here without someone slapping my
hand saying, ¡®No, no, no, you shouldn¡¯t get yourself involved in
He wanted me to get into the character, and he allowed me to go in,
and we rewrote the whole character and added the martial arts, and I
think that makes it interesting. Even if it seems like the same movie
that maybe has been out before in some other form, for me, it was a
different process because I was allowed to come in and be involved
beforehand in the pre-production part of it, and then also be in the
production part of it, so to me that was something worth doing, that
was something worth investigating.
Q: Do you have to train for a movie like this?
LL: No, because I just felt really comfortable doing stunts and
things like that. I¡¯ve done it before and to me it was so much easier
because the majority of the movie isn¡¯t stunts for me. The majority
of it¡¯s more comedy, and I just threw the choreography together and
did the action. It wasn¡¯t as difficult, no.
Q: Do you go to the gym?
LL: Oh, I like to do Pilates a lot. Well I haven¡¯t worked out in a
year, but I went to the gym like -- I¡¯ve been here just the past
couple days. I go to do Pilates, but I¡¯ll probably started doing
Pilates again because I haven¡¯t been in LA for awhile. I¡¯ve been
living in a suitcase [laughs]. Literally my luggage was so
embarrassingly dilapidated that I thought I should get some new
luggage, and then I realized this just means I¡¯ve been traveling. I
mean what are you going to do? The whole thing¡¯s falling apart.
Q: Why are you living out of a suitcase?
LL: You just go, or you do press, you do the set. It¡¯s hard to settle
in one place when you¡¯re traveling around all the time. I have a home
here but I¡¯m not really there. It¡¯s like all cobwebby.
Q: With your action background, do you intimidate other actors who
don¡¯t do that as often?
LL: Not generally.
Q: Cedric said he was intimidated!
LL: Cedric is just a kitty. He¡¯s just doing that [acting scared] so I
can give him a hug. ¡®No, I¡¯m not going to hurt you!¡¯ Cedric¡¯s got
some moves! Did you see? [Imitates Cedric¡¯s scream] He was doing like
the washing windows [action move] thing. You know what I love about
him is he doesn¡¯t hold himself back and he doesn¡¯t mind humiliating
himself. He loves to play and make fun of himself which makes him so
accessible, which I love that too about him.
Q: Is a guy with a sense of humor important to you?
LL: Absolutely. That¡¯s actually the #1 priority on my list. A sense
of humor, be able to not take himself too seriously. Food is key.
Just be open to trying all kinds of things. Like I don¡¯t like a
person who¡¯s a picky eater ¡®cause if you¡¯re a picky eater, you can¡¯t
travel with that person, You can¡¯t go to a party with that person.
It¡¯s like going out with a vegan, I don¡¯t know a fruitarian or
something, someone who only eats fruit, it¡¯s like, ¡®Oh my god, take
you to brunch, that¡¯s it!¡¯
Q: How many languages do you speak?
LL: I speak Chinese, I speak a little bit of Spanish, a tiny bit of
Italian, a little bit of Japanese. I learned Japanese for ¡®Kill
Bill,¡¯ and I started taking Italian on my own. I took Spanish for 6
years in school, and I grew up speaking Chinese.
Q: Weren¡¯t you a language major?
LL: Asian languages and cultures.
Q: Does that background help you get into your roles?
LL: I think it¡¯s helped me be less racist. I¡¯m not sure if that¡¯s the
right word, but I think it¡¯s really helped me understand. I think
when you grow up Asian-American it¡¯s difficult because you don¡¯t know
if you¡¯re Asian or you¡¯re American. You get confused, and I think
when you speak the language, you just can associate with that culture
so much easier and you don¡¯t become, ¡®I¡¯m going to dye my hair
yellow, and I¡¯m going to put blue contacts in, and I¡¯m going to be
somebody that I¡¯m not.¡¯
And not that there¡¯s anything wrong with that. I just think you can
assimilate to both and not feel that you¡¯re outcast because if you¡¯re
in the business and you don¡¯t speak Chinese, then people say, ¡®You¡¯re
a banana, you¡¯re yellow on the outside, white on the inside.¡¯ And
it¡¯s like I can do both. Maybe I¡¯m not as fluent as I could be, but I
can still assimilate if I get to speak the languages often with
people because they¡¯re not as many people who speak Mandarin.
Q: What music are you listening to?
LL: Oh, let¡¯s see. I was listening to a mixture of things, but one of
my friends put together a Bob Marley compilation, which was amazing
because we had been painting together and he put together a whole
compilation of Bob Marley and like a remix of ¡®Sade,¡¯ which is
incredible. It was really beautiful. I was like, ¡®Where¡¯d you get
Q: Do you sing?
LL: No. Thus far no one has paid me to sing. It¡¯s a hint, some
insight into that area.
Q: You play a waitress, and I know you were a waitress in real life.
Were you like, ¡®Don¡¯t put me back in that waitressing uniform?¡¯
LL: No, I was like, ¡®Bring me into it! ¡®Cause I am good!¡¯
Q: Were you a good waitress?
LL: Of course! Yeah. I was a cocktail waitress and at that time I had
spilled countless drinks on people. Luckily they were vodka tonics so
they weren¡¯t like bloody Marys. People were never happy about that,
and I don¡¯t drink coffee so I never knew the difference between, ¡®Oh,
okay, so there¡¯s no more decaf. I¡¯ll just put a little caffeinated in
it.¡¯ ¡®Cause there was the orange and then there was the brown top.
Who knew? I learned the hard way, but other people learned harder
because they had to actually deal with my antics.
Q: Where did you waitress?
LL: It was in Michigan.
Q: But you got your tips, right?
LL: Yeah, but I think when you¡¯re younger, you just try to get by and
when you¡¯re older, you want to make sure everything¡¯s done well. When
you¡¯re younger, you¡¯re like, ¡®Give me the damn tip!¡¯
Q: I bet you¡¯re a good tipper now!
LL: Yeah, absolutely!
Q: Would you go from movies to TV?
LL: Of course, yeah. I went back and did ¡®Joey¡¯ for a few episodes. I
think television now is so much more advanced, and some of it¡¯s even
better than some of the films I¡¯ve seen out there, the way the
storyline is and the way the characters are developed, and it¡¯s
beautifully shot. I love ¡®The Sopranos.¡¯ I think it¡¯s a great show. I
think if there¡¯s something interesting and it¡¯s challenging, why not
try it? It shouldn¡¯t have anything to do with the medium itself; it
should have something to do with your interest in it.
Q: Do you want to direct?
LL: Absolutely. Yeah.
Q: Any projects in the pipeline on that front?
LL: There are, but I don¡¯t like to talk about anything unless I¡¯ve
done it. I like to walk the talk and that sort of thing, so when it¡¯s
out, it¡¯ll be out. You¡¯ll see it.
Q: What do you think is the funniest movie ever?
LL: Oh that¡¯s hard. One of the movies I really enjoy is ¡®Being
There.¡¯ It¡¯s one of my favorite movies. I think it¡¯s a really quiet
comedy that¡¯s beautiful, and there¡¯s a certain innocence in there
which I love. I loved ¡®Borat.¡¯ I think that was a really funny movie.
I think that ¡®Nacho Libre¡¯ is funny. I think there¡¯s so many
different comedies that I enjoy, but my favorite thing when I was
younger was Abbott & Costello. Just really classic things like that
are always funny. And I always love watching stand-up comedy.
Q: Is it easy for you to do comedy?
LL: I think it¡¯s something I love doing. I don¡¯t know that it¡¯s easy.
I think it¡¯s something I really, really enjoy. If I had the
opportunity to do more of them I would. I just think there¡¯s
something really wonderful about making people laugh, and it¡¯s such a
great feeling to have the ability to transform somebody because if
you just watch people sometimes, and you go to a bar or you go to a
home or something, people are glued to the television, and you see
them reacting or discussing or laughing.
It¡¯s like that¡¯s the power of entertainment to some degree. You can
change somebody¡¯s mood or atmosphere or bring unity because laughter
in a room brings people together ¡®cause then you¡¯re like [pretends to
poke someone] ¡®Ah, yeah, it¡¯s so funny!¡¯ It suddenly becomes like a
discussion. It¡¯s just like a wonderful gift and that¡¯s not easy to
do. That¡¯s not an easy thing to accomplish for sure.
Q: What do you like about working with comedians?
LL: I think working with a comedian is wonderful because they just
know that you don¡¯t have to stick to the script, but I think there¡¯s
other talented actors there that don¡¯t maybe have the opportunity to
do that, but probably could be very, very funny, but it just depends.
Some people feel more comfortable sticking to the script. I like to
sort of go off of it sometimes for comedy because you never know
what¡¯s going to come up.
Q: Like when you used the plunger as a weapon!
LL: The director was like, ¡®I don¡¯t think we should use the plunger.¡¯
I was like, ¡®The plunger is funny. It¡¯s totally gross! It¡¯s really
inappropriate. It¡¯s funny!¡¯ And I said, ¡®On top of that, I¡¯m going to
add the toilet brush now! [laughs]. You know the more you fight, the
more nasty stuff I¡¯m going to put in there!¡¯ He¡¯s like, ¡®No, you
should just take the thing and break it in half.¡¯ I¡¯m like, ¡®No,
let¡¯s just take the nasty toilet plunger and the nasty toilet brush
because it makes it that much funnier!¡¯
Q: You were a producer on this. What¡¯s the difference between acting
LL: I think that you have a little more say in it when you¡¯re an
executive producer. I think when you¡¯re a producer you really have a
lot of say, and you¡¯re there from the very beginning. I think as an
executive producer, you can go in there and really have an opinion
without worrying that someone¡¯s going to be like, ¡®Why is she taking
over the set?¡¯
You can actually go in there and have a creative point of view and
you can participate in a way that could be very helpful -- or not --
but you can participate. [laughs] You know it depends on how they
acknowledge what you have to say, but I think it gives you a certain
amount of freedom and you feel like you¡¯re part of a team, and you¡¯re
looking at the movie on an overall level as opposed to, ¡®How am I
getting through? How¡¯s my plan? How¡¯s my schedule working out?¡¯ You
see everyone¡¯s schedule overall, and it becomes more of a universal
Q: Did working with Drew (Barrymore) inspire you to produce? I know
she¡¯s really involved with "Charlie¡¯s Angels.¡±
LL: She¡¯s so involved, yeah. This was a very different process
because she really came early on for ¡®Charlie¡¯s Angels¡¯ and started
from the very, very beginning. This movie had already been greenlit
and they had a director onboard, so at that point for me it¡¯s just
mainly character input and creative input about fights and things
like that, so it wasn¡¯t that involved, but something like ¡®Charlie
Chan¡¯ which I¡¯ve been working on forever, that¡¯s something that I
started from the very, very beginning, so there¡¯s so many different
levels to it. It was such a funny thing to come on as an executive
producer on something that went so quickly when I had been working on
something for 6 years and still it¡¯s in the works!
Q: How close is the Charlie Chan movie to being made?
LL: It¡¯s not. [laughs] I mean who knows. It¡¯s been 6 years, so by the
time it comes out and it gets made, but for me it has to start with
the script. If you have some substance, then you have somewhere to
go, but if you don¡¯t, it¡¯s like, ¡®Let¡¯s just not rush the process to
get something out there because then it will just be a waste of money
and it will be terrible!¡¯
Q: Who¡¯s working on the script?
LL: Chris Levinson right now. She just signed on to do a rewrite.
Q: You take roles not made specifically for an Asian woman. What
would you say to a young woman like yourself who wants to get into
LL: About transcending that [racial barrier]? I think the important
thing is to acknowledge that if you do play people from another
country or from your own cultural background, that¡¯s okay. A lot of
people say, ¡®Well you can¡¯t do that. You¡¯re perpetuating a
stereotype.¡¯ I think the most important thing is just to work on
something that you care about, and as work comes along to make sure
that you make choices for yourself, not because this is something you
feel comfortable in.
You should keep doing it. It¡¯s just important to continue to work
because work begets work, and if you stop trusting yourself and start
listening to other people, you¡¯re going to get lost in the mix
because everyone has a different opinion for you, you know what I
mean. Even you in the scope of 3 minutes could have 3 different
opinions. Like, ¡®Oh my god, I¡¯m completely confused.¡¯ And you have
all these different ideas. Can you imagine how 6 people come into a
room and tell you what you want to do, and they have 3 different
opinions each, and it¡¯s like 3 times 6 [is] 18 and it¡¯s so confusing
on top of your own thing, and I think you have to listen to your
heart and I think sometimes when you live in a city, and you¡¯re
surrounded by people all the time who have [a] different career
trajectory or how they started out.
Everyone¡¯s different and unique. You can¡¯t follow a formula. Like in
comedy or in television or films, there is a certain formula -- first
act, second act, third act. But in your life is a very different
thing, and you can¡¯t follow anything but your own heart but people
say, ¡®Ah, that¡¯s really schmaltzy,¡¯ but it really is true. I think
people are so willing to give up their lives for fame and for career
that they end up giving themselves up because after all the time has
passed, you don¡¯t know who you marry, you don¡¯t know who you are, and
I think you can only be an artist if you are portraying part of
yourself or a reality of something, even if you don¡¯t relate to the
character at all, and there¡¯s a molecule of that person in you, then
you just take it and you just expand it. But if you¡¯re just putting
it on like a shirt, it¡¯s never going to be something that the
audience is going to embrace because it¡¯s going to be false and
people can smell that. People can detect when something is false;
they just don¡¯t buy it.
Q: Do you think learning about your culture helped you maintain that
sense of self?
LL: Absolutely, absolutely, if you deny who you are and your roots,
even if you were born here and raised here, and you don¡¯t speak the
language, that¡¯s okay. But don¡¯t ever deny. Like you need to know who
you are. You need to recognize where your background is from. I think
it¡¯s important. Just for yourself. It makes you more whole. It does.
Q: What superpower would you want?
LL: That would be like for UNICEF to protect all the children of the