INT: Jet Li

Part 1 & Philip G. Atwell

Actor Jet Li may be a master of martial arts with a stone cold stare onscreen, but in person, he’s a gentle giant. A practicing Buddhist, Jet is the exact opposite of his onscreen persona, a sensitive and soft spoken guy, who seems like he should be running a class on spiritual healing rather then going after Asian mobs, like he does in his new film ROGUE. The always interesting, Jet talked about playing the title character, an assassin, his departure from strictly martial arts movies, and how he is able to meditate with such a busy schedule.

Jet Li

Since this film isn’t a martial arts movie, but more an action film, how different is ROGUE for you?

I’ve never played this kind of character before, because for myself, I don’t know if he’s good or bad. It really depends later, when the audience sees the movie, they decide. I only know this character is very violent for some reason. The other movies I played a lot of characters, it’s very clear he’s a good guy, or a cop, or a mobster in Chinese films. It’s very different, a martial arts movie and this kind of movie. Recently I made a movie FEARLESS, it’s not just martial arts, it also has a philosophy, how to use martial arts, just for violence to kill people, or you can use martial arts to help people, how to use them. Just like a weapon. A weapon isn’t good or bad, depends on the person who uses it. So martial arts, a lot of culture behind physical moves. I don’t think it’s a martial arts movie, it’s an action movie.

Given that you seem like such a gentle person and you’re so philosophical, how hard is it for you to play a character like Rogue, who is so violent?

Quite difficult. Before it was easy, before you’re an actor, you just do the job, the acting. I played a lot of different characters, even in LETHAL WEAPON 4, I played the bad guy. And eight years ago when I became Buddhist, I always see that violence is not the only solution. A few movies, DANNY THE DOG (UNLEASHED in the US), FEARLESS, I think these movies continue to talk about my personal beliefs. Violence is not the only solution. To suddenly go back to a very violent character, it’s a struggle. I got to the set and forget I’m Jet Li and I’m right there in that world. And I go back, I go home and think I’m doing this, but it’s not me.

When you’re going through fight choreography, do you ever go too far and actually hit another person by accident?

Somebody that tells you they’re making an action movie doesn’t hurt the other, is lying. (laughs) For sure, for sure. For an action actor, usually if they got injured, that means you go to the hospital, the production stops.

So is it true that you’re stepping away from doing martial arts movies and trying to do films that showcase your acting talent?

No, I think I said…I said FEARLESS is my last martial arts movie. Because I put my heart in it, all my beliefs, the physical part, the mental part, everything’s in that movie. You know, I’ve been learning martial arts since I was eight years old and the character I played, he’s a martial artist, great martial artist. So I put a lot of my life experiences in that film. But that’s the last one, martial arts movie. Martial arts is in my mind, it’s totally different. The Chinese character, how you write martial arts, its stop, war. Stop the war, stop the fighting. Two words put together it’s martial. But this kind of film, an action film, I will continue to make.

Last time you were in Vancouver, you were shooting ROMEO MUST DIE, how do you feel about working here again with ROGUE?

I have a lot of memories, it’s a very beautiful city and a lot of people work very professionally, but I still makes me think about Aaliyah (his co-star in ROMEO who died in a plane crash at the young age of 22), you know. That feeling is still there, we worked together here for a few months, she was just a very talented girl and some locations, when I pass by, everyday I think about her.

Anything projects you want to do on a personal level?

I want to do something nobody will agree, so I cannot do it. Like THE MONK IN NY, I talk about it for seven years, because no action, no violence, so no studio, nobody wants to be involved. So I push myself. Maybe make some commercial movies, save some money, later put it into making it, I believe.

Your website is very much about a leading a spiritual lifestyle. With such a busy schedule, how do you find time for mind, body, and spirit?

Everyday I wake up, I go to the set, I go to the car, I pray. Everywhere I go, if that day is busy, I still have time to meditate. People think meditating is sitting there, nobody bothering you, but you can even talk and still meditate, in my mind, in my heart. You can talk about weather, sports, movies and still can meditate. Make my mind always clean.

How do you like driving the fast cars in this movie?

Rogue (smiles) love it. Jet Li doesn’t. (Laughs)

Source: JoBlo.com



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