Kelly Hu Discusses Playing Iconic Tough Characters [Interview]
Actress Kelly Hu has faced some of the most recognizable figures in pop culture, from her stab as Lady Deathstrike against Wolverine in the second X-Men movie to her more recent turn as the assassin China White in TV’s hit superhero series Arrow, not mention an early run in with the hockey masked slasher Jason Voorhees, a recurring role as an immortal bloodsucker on The Vampire Diaries, and a ton of other parts where she has kicked the butts of her male costars.
OBX Entertainment caught up with Hu when she was in Virginia Beach earlier this month for the Tidewater Comicon convention, where she talked to us about her career of portraying iconic characters, many of which are infamous villains, and she told us that she is honored to play these badass roles for which she is adored by legions of genre fans.
Read on for our full interview with Kelly Hu!
When we began our conversation, Hu told us what it was like recently seeing her own likeness as The Sorceress in The Scorpion King tattooed on a fan.
“That was the only time I’ve ever seen it,” she said. “I’ve seen other actors tattooed on other people’s bodies, but that was (a first for me). His first reaction was he really wanted to make sure it was me, because he didn’t know I was going to be at the base. So he kept following me around, and I kept seeing this guy following me around the base and kind of sneaking and creeping.
“When he was finally sure that it was me, he came up to me very politely and said, ‘I just want you know I’m not a stalker or anything’. So of course immediately I think he’s a stalker. He says, ‘I’m engaged to be married and I’m not crazy or anything, but I have your face tattooed on my body.’ I was like, ‘I gotta see this’.
“So he pulled up his pant leg and showed me, and it was really awesome, the fact that somebody would be such a huge fan. I don’t even know if was just a fan of me, the movie, or just the look that he was going for, but the idea that you’re tattooed on somebody’s body is pretty cool …if they’re not crazy.”
Do you enjoy interacting with the fans at these conventions?
“I do very much. I do several of these a year. If I didn’t like interacting with the fans then I shouldn’t be here, but comic book fans and fans of this genre are so nice. Everybody’s just there to support you and spill their love all over you. So I love coming to these things. For me it’s always, I think, a gift more for me than them.”
You were telling us earlier how Friday the 13th Part VIII really set the tone for your career in a lot of ways.
“It did. It was my very first movie. I remember shooting it in Vancouver. Exactly at the halfway point, I end up getting killed by Jason. I get strangled on the dance floor. It set the tone for the rest of my career, because in so many movies and TV shows that I’ve done after that, I die.
“Now whenever I tell my mom that a got a new job, her first question is always, ‘Do you die? Do you live in this one?’”
I’ve read that when you filmed that death scene you purposely did not scream, but then they added it later (in post production). Is that true?
“Yeah, I didn’t want to be one of those typical screamers, because sometimes when people get scared, they can’t scream. All they can do is move. So I actually chose not to scream. Then of course, being the kind of film that it is, and I think I was shooting something else abroad, they just added it with somebody else’s voice screaming for me.
“I have seen it, but I don’t think I’ve seen it in probably 20 years.”
That choice to not scream ties in with your career of playing so many tough characters. You’re always kicking the guys’ butts in so many of your most memorable roles.
“Yes, I know. People always ask me if I can really kick ass. I tell them, ‘If it’s in the choreography.’
“I picked up doing karate after a long time of not having practiced, because I’m older now and my body doesn’t want to take as much abuse, but I am preparing for a role that I’m shooting in Russia next month, where I am going to be doing some fighting. And I just thought it would be fun to get back in shape. We’ll see. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with this for a while, but it’s hard on the body, this martial arts stuff.”
So you almost don’t even need a stunt double.
“Of course I use stunt doubles. There’s a lot that I can do, but I get to have the most amazing stunt women in the world. My stunt women are like national Chinese Wushu champions and stuff like that. So why would I not use somebody who would make me look that great. I’d be stupid not to.”
Is there anything you can tell us about your new role you’re about to do in Russia?
“It’s an action comedy with the same writer from Rush Hour and the same director I worked with in Cradle 2 the Grave.
“I get to work with my friend Mark Dacascos again, who I worked with also in Cradle 2 the Grave and lots of other stuff. I just love that guy.
“It’s a Russian production, and it’s the first Russian-American production that is going to be shot in Russia, from what I understand. It’s going to be called Maximum Impact.”
Of all your iconic roles, is there one that you find that most people you meet identify you with?
“We are here at a comicon, so it would be my comic book roles. A lot of people associate me with Lady Deathstrike from the X-Men series, but a lot of people now are huge fans of Arrow, and I got to recur on that a couple times as China White. Then I do a lot of voice over stuff as well, so for gamers, I have a game that just came out for EA called Battlefield Hardline. But I think most people are into those iconic characters from the comic books.”
And you play them so great.
“It’s an honor.”
Check out our video and photo gallery from Tidewater Comicon here!