INT: Jamie King
For anyone who is not yet aware, BULLETPROOF MONK, a film starring Chow Yun-Fat, Seann William Scott and Jamie King, is opening this coming Wednesday (not Friday), the 16th of April. What's it about?
The Monk (Chow Yun-Fat) is a Zen-calm martial arts master whose duty has been to protect a powerful ancient scroll. Faced with finding the scroll's next guardian, the Monk's quest brings him to New York City where, to his disbelief, it appears his successor is a smart-mouthed pickpocket named Kar (Seann William Scott). Kar's a charming, street-tough wild card who enjoys his life of no responsibility. As the Monk instructs Kar, the unlikely duo become partners in protecting the scroll from a power-monger who's been chasing it for 60 years. Amidst high-flying acrobatics and martial arts action, this comical odd couple has to work together to keep the scroll -- and mankind -- safe.
Today, we have three separate interviews with the stars of the film, Seann William Scott, Chow Yun-Fat and the one below with Jamie King (who promoted the film along with Scott at last year's San Diego Comic Con-- seemed very shy and very gorgeous).
Q: What was the training
for this movie like?
KING: It was great -- 6 to 7 hours a day of gymnastics and kung fu and martial arts with kicks and all kinds of different styles. Then we came up here and had rehearsal time on the wires.
Q: Have you done anything like this before?
KING: That's one of the reasons I really wanted to do this role. It's so physical, and the idea of acting and doing all the physical stuff really appealed to me. I'm pretty athletic and I feel like it's a cool thing to incorporate something like this into your craft.
Q: Was it fun?
KING: Some of it can be really challenging, but the human body is amazing - how resilient it is and how far you can push it and how far you can really go. Who doesn't want to be in the air on wires flying around?
Q: What was the hardest part about the training?
KING: I would say the most challenging part about training is just getting certain moves integrated into your body. Sometimes I would do a kick over and over and think, "Oh my God, I can't get this kick right," and then, after a couple of days, all of a sudden I could do it. It clicks and your whole body gets it.
Q: I heard you had to learn to speak Tibetan.
KING: I did. There's a scene in the movie when I first meet Chow Yun-Fat and Seann William Scott (the Monk and Kar), and I start speaking in Tibetan with Chow Yun-Fat's character about Kar. Kar is pretending he knows what we're talking about, but he has no clue at all.
Q: Were you speaking actual Tibetan. How do you learn that?
KING: You get a dialect coach and go through every single part of it. Practice makes perfect.
Q: Why is your character called Bad Girl?
KING: When Kar first sees her, he eyes her when he is about to get his butt kicked by my gang members. He turns around and is like, "Bad Girl." He looks at me and he calls me out. That's how I am dubbed.
Q: What was it like working with Seann?
KING: It was really great. He's so awesome and fun. I first met him at the screen test and we got along. Now, we have a really great relationship because we've had all this rehearsal time. It's great to know how you're going to interact and how you work with someone.
Q: How would you describe the style of this film? Very cool looking…
KING: It's very dramatic and very dark and very quick -- like a cross between INDIANA JONES and FIGHT CLUB. It's going to be different from any other movie that you've ever seen. We're all from such different places. There are so many different things going on at once to create this wonderful film. I've never seen anything shot the way these things are shot.
Q: How were you approached to play this role?
KING: I specifically remember the moment that I read the script and the moment I knew I wanted to do this film. I was lying in bed and as I was reading it, I could visualize myself in the part. I made the choice. I said I'm going to get this role no matter what. I don't care what I have to do, I'm going to be in this film. I remember telling my agent this, too. I auditioned five times and did a screen test and a physical test. It was really a cool process because I got to work with Paul and the casting director and play it in different ways. It made receiving the role so much more incredible for me because I worked so hard to get it.
Q: What was it that made you say I have to have this role?
KING: There was something that resonated true to me. I knew that there was something within me that authentically could understand where she was coming from on a lot of different levels. You have to relate to the character in some way. I also felt like the script had a lot to say, a lot to say in a way that hasn't been said before.
Q: You said you read it and you were determined.
KING: I was going to do whatever it took to get that role. I just know I was meant to play it and that I could put so much love behind the role. It was really great to go in there and prove myself.
Q: Tell us about your character Jade.
KING: Essentially, Jade is looking for purpose and meaning in her life. She has an innate desire to help people. She has a true interest in the world and the things around her, but I don't think she necessarily knows what that is about. It's something she is awakening to and discovering. She wants something to love and take care of, but she is very protective of herself because she doesn't know what she is worth. She finds it with her gang members, her attitude and toughness and fighting. Then, when she meets Kar and the Monk, she can't deny that she is good and that she is here to help save the world. When she chooses to save the scroll and to protect the Monk, she has found her soul's purpose. She will sacrifice anything for that. It's an incredible journey for me to be a part of that and to awaken those things within myself. I think everybody is looking for purpose so it's really cool to play a character that finds it.
Q: What was your experience like on the set, was it what you expected?
KING: No, it wasn't. It changed all the time. I was learning something new everyday.
I'd never done so much action and acting at the same time. It was a completely different experience.
It was tough, but at the end of the day I felt so fulfilled.
Q: You haven't had to be as physical before?
KING: No, not like this wire work and kung fu, fighting and punching and kicking. It's amazing how focused and really present you need to be. It's just awesome. It's unlike any other movie I've ever done before.
Q: Talk about training… wire work …
KING: Seann and I both started training in early December in Los Angeles. Then we came up here a couple of months early and trained everyday 5 to 6 hours a day doing kung fu, Hong Kong Street fighting, tai kwon do, and wire work. The idea of being paid to learn how to do kung fu and to act and learn from incredible actors and great producers and this visually amazing director - it was something I really wanted to try and that I knew I could do. I mean, your body also looks incredible after all that training. [laughs]
Q: Was it something that you took to right away?
KING: You have to memorize the techniques and the forms and integrate your consciousness and your body at the same time so that it becomes fluid. Sometimes, getting your head wrapped around these moves can be really overwhelming. When you're enthusiastic as an actor and you want to get it down so perfect and then you don't you're so frustrated! You have to remind yourself that you do the best you can. We've got really great people teaching us and that's been another incredible blessing. The people I'm learning from are just so awesome.
Q: What makes them special?
KING: Their experience, patience, support. They have been with us from the very beginning and it feels so good. The other day I did a really awesome wire kick and it felt so good to have my fight team around me, the people that have been teaching me from the very beginning, rooting me on. I kept thinking to myself, "I have been training for 4 1/2 months for this and I'm going to do a great job and I can pull this last one out of me." It was an amazing feeling to come that far.
Q: What was it like doing the fight scene on the wire?
KING: I don't think I've ever seen anything like it for women, which is really cool. We're like, "We're going to make this the best women's fight scene you have ever seen in your entire life." I get to run up the wall a couple of times, then jump off the wall, doing back-spinning kicks. You never grow up thinking you're going to do something like that and then all of a sudden there you are doing it, and it's incredible.
Q: Talk about your relationship with Seann professionally and personally.
KING: We don't get to spend that much time with each other because we are working so much, but we have a great time. It's really easygoing and free flowing. We have fun together and goof around and we both have a strong passion for this movie. It's funny because every time we want to do something, we have a big scene the next day, or have been working every day, even our days off. Seann is really an inspiration, you know. He works really hard. It's so wonderful to work with people who are that enthusiastic about their jobs. Seann is definitely enthusiastic about what he is doing, so it's been really cool to watch that.
Q: Were you excited when you heard Chow Yun-Fat would be in the film?
KING: Oh yes, I was really excited. He encompasses an incredible amount of grace. He's so funny. I'm learning so much from the way he handles people and himself on set. Also, he is really efficient with time. He comes and he stands on his mark, he is there for the camera guys, he is there for the rehearsals, he is very crisp and clean and clear about what he's doing, he gets his things done. He is very purposeful with his energy and his time on set. There is a good energy because he has a lot of gratitude. He is really easygoing, and lighthearted. He doesn't take anything too seriously and he's joking around a lot and I think it's nice to have light energy like that on the set. It really frees things.
Q: What was your experience working with Paul Hunter, the director of the picture?
KING: He knows what he wants visually, but it's still so much magic. He's like a little kid when he gets amped or excited about something. It's been a great process to work with him and to learn what he is looking for and how he sees things. He's really ahead of his time. I think that what he is creating is going to be completely different than anything we have ever seen. I know he admires David Fincher and Tim Burton, but he is melding everything together. I see him really work hard on each shot. Visually, it's so rich. One of the special things about this film is that it's fantasy, but there's truth. They're creating scenes that really make you want to jump into the screen. It makes you want to drip with life and newness and anticipation because there's promise of something greater out there. Paul has an incredible ability to capture the urgency behind the story.
Q: Did he help you develop your character?
KING: The story evolves and as we evolve throughout the film. Jade evolves as well. Our process has just been constantly talking about that and building on that and keeping communication open.
Q: What stands out in your mind that you are most proud of?
KING: Getting through three 15-hour-long days of just fighting. There are times on the wires when I would be so exhausted and then all of a sudden I would look around and see the fight team and the director and the other actors and I'm inspired. All this energy comes rushing, and I get it right and it's the best feeling when it comes together perfectly and it's going to be immortalized on celluloid.
Q: Is there a favorite thing you learned…
KING: The wire work. I'm pretty good at it and it's so much fun, like flying.
Q: And you must look back . . .
KING: I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I have greater clarity on how much work and how much fun I have had. I am proud of all the work that we've done, so I'm starting to get really nostalgic and sentimental.