INT: Lucy Liu

Interview #1 Uma Thurman
Interview #2 Lucy Liu
Interview #3 Lawrence Bender
Interview #4 Vivica A. Fox
Interview #5 Quentin Tarantino

Uma Thurman isn’t the only girl who kicks ass in Quentin Tarantino’s latest work. KILL BILL also features the ass-kicking exploits of the feisty, ferocious Lucy Liu. The sassy Chinese-American from Queens first gained notoriety as the scene-stealing minx Ling Woo in Ally McBeal. Later on, her movie career took flight with CHARLIE'S ANGELS, where she shined as one of the eponymous ass-kicking hotties. In KILL BILL, she kicks even more ass as O-Ren Ishi, a ruthless ex-assassin turned Yakuza who rules the Japanese underworld.

In a cool twist, director Tarantino presents the character’s backstory in the form of stylized anime sequence, juxtaposed with a Spaghetti Western soundtrack. Trust me, it works. In the film’s climactic House of Blue Leaves scene, Liu faces off against Uma Thurman’s character, The Bride, in what has to be the coolest girl fight ever. Liu, wearing a sporty, sleeveless top that showed off her athletic arms, joined me at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills to talk about her experience making Tarantino’s bloody epic.


How did you like playing such a tough character?

I actually didn't think she was tough. I didn't. I thought she was a really cool character to play because she was a survivor, you know what I mean? She had so many reasons why she became who she was. She had to continue fighting all her life to basically stay alive, from the moment that her parents were killed. Luckily, for the first time I didn't have to explain to everybody what happened to her, because (as an actor), you make up a back story in your mind of how somebody becomes who they are.

In this particular situation, (Tarantino) gives you all of that, he pretty much lays it out for you, and so like O-Ren Ishi wasn't the type of person who was ever gonna die peacefully in her bed, you know what I mean? She was going to die fighting and that was how it was gonna be. She died the best way that she could have ever imagined, with the Hattori Hanzo sword. So ultimately it was a very respectful death, and I think her character is more of a survivor than someone who's tough, you know?

Your character seemed pretty tough in the scene where she cut off that guy's head.

You know what, it wasn't as tough as it was. If she didn't say something or she didn't represent herself well, she probably would have lost her position. I think the only way you lose your position in that way is you get killed. So it's "kill or be killed", that's her thing basically.

What's so sexy about girls fighting?

I don't see it as sexy, because it's more that women like to watch women fight because it makes them feel sort of empowered physically and mentally, internally, emotionally they feel kind of jazzed and excited by it. And men like to see it because two women fighting, men see women as a very different entity altogether. So to see that entity doing what men generally do is kind of an exciting thing. I'm not saying that women going out there and playing football is a hot thing, too, but you never know what's going to happen if you sort of turn things on its head. It always makes it more interesting, I think.

Do think it’s sexy when men fight?

I think that men, when they fight in movies, it's a very different style. Like Harrison Ford was so cool when he had the whip, and Bruce Lee was such an artist that you couldn't take your eyes off of him when he was on screen. He was doing something that you've never seen before. It was, I think when you see something that you've never seen before, it becomes something that you get really caught up in. Like when we first saw THE MATRIX, a lot of people had never seen that kind of martial arts and wire work before, and everyone was sort of intrigued by it.

As they see more and more, it becomes not as interesting or maybe not as new, and so (Kill Bill) is different in a way that because there's women fighting with swords. At one point I was watching the movie myself, I thought, “Wow, I just noticed that there weren't really any men.” There were just women fighting the whole time and I didn't think about it. It didn't really occur to me, and then I thought, that's kind of a cool thing. It didn't really occur to me that you usually see a man come and the woman fights a man or whatever. It was a really neat thing, Quentin really gives you that respect by sort of saying, man or woman, this is a woman's movie right now. That's what's so cool about him.

In terms of physical stunts, how have your skills grown from Shanghai Noon, through Charlie's Angels to this?

I've definitely become much more aware of physical stunts and things like that since then, but this particular movie was different because I was doing something I'd never done before ever, and working on the Samurai sword is very different because your body position has to be very still. It's a much quieter was of fighting. Not particularly in the House of Blue Leaves scene with Uma, but the scene that I have with her in the end, you notice that it's actually much quieter. There's a lot of movement but it’s really cool and it's very stylized. That's a really neat way of doing something that's different.

What was it like to fight while wearing the traditional Japanese kimono?

The kimono was really hot, 'cause we were shooting in Beijing and it was 100 degrees. They had flown somebody in from Japan to put the kimono on, somebody who just does that. So obviously it's very tight, and you have to keep a certain posture which helps the fighting scenes in the end. But women who wear kimonos, when the fight they have to keep their knees together, and when they use a sword, when they fight they have to use the kimono, they have to move the sleeves otherwise it gets caught. Once I put the Kimono on, it was a whole different ball game because it would get twisted up in there, in the material, and the sleeves are really long.

The neck is kind of what's sexy in Japan, so you have to have the kimono a little bit back. It was just a whole different way of appealing to what was sexy, you know what I mean? Like the feet and the back of the neck, and the little thing of hair, that was the big thing. Before I could do anything we had to fix the back of the head. I was like, “Oh my God, is this really going to make a difference, because I'm dying over here?” But it really does, and you have to respect and understand that that culture is so different, and once I started speaking the language and all that, it really became easy to understand why it was very important. But it did make a difference.

Do you feel like you had to compete with your anime likeness?

I think it was great actually. I think it gave a really great back story. I've never really thought about competing with cartoons. If it ever gets to that point, then just shoot me.

Did they give you proofs of the animation to use in creating your back story?

Well, the (anime) was already written in the script - It was written as animation. That was something that we knew all along, which was kind of a cool thing when you read the script. He showed me a picture of her when she was little, and then he showed me a picture when she was gonna be in her 20s and stuff, when she got older. The thing is, you have to recognize, Japanimation is a whole different art form. This is what the artist created and what they had in their mind for this character. I thought it was really pretty great. First of all, they put freckles in which is nice, because you normally don't see that.

You keep playing kick-ass characters. Is that a typecast?

The characters I have played have been pretty interesting, and have had a lot of action in them. I'm not really sure what is gonna happen next. I've sort of been thinking about it, and following up after KILL BILL, working with Quentin and being part of such a great movie. I want to make sure that I take the time to think about what I want to do. I'm producing a few projects and that takes a lot of time and energy, and who knows if anything is gonna come of it. But I think now I can sort of focus on other things for a little bit.   

Do you enjoy kicking ass in your personal life?

In my personal life? I don't know. I know that you're saying that in a good way, but I try to distinguish my characters from each other. I like to know that Ling was somebody that people really loved, and that I can sort of keep her separately from the Charlie's Angels Alex character, or anyone else that I do. I don't know, maybe my eyeballs are a certain way, but I think that this character was very different for me from the other characters. I think it's important to recognize that when she does see that this sword is very powerful, when she cuts her sheath in half, that there's like a moment where she's enjoying the challenge of it, you know what I mean? You have to think about it.

It did seem that your freckles were more prominent this time.

Actually, you know what, my freckles are always there. I think sometimes the lighting blows it out. Generally my freckles are always there. Believe me, if we had to cover up the freckles, I'd be forever with like a thick thing of makeup. It just depends on the lighting.


Source: JoBlo.com



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