Bai Ling has not had an easy ride of it, but somehow she still manages to smile and keeps going. More to the point she seems to revel in meeting any challenge that life can throw at her, and she’s had more then her fair share. The press have been divided in their opinions, often perhaps too quick to print negative stories about her personal life, but all we can go on is our brief meeting / interview. So what impression did we take away from that first meeting with Bai Ling. Honestly? She wasn’t what we expected, in fact I’m not sure what I expected, but Adam and I both agreed that she was lovely to talk to.
You see, the London Film and Comic Convention is extremely busy and popular, with more actors from your favourite Sci-Fi / Sports / Fantasy shows in attendance then you can shake a sonic screwdriver at. And the audience is huge, or rather indescribably huge! As a result you sometimes get the odd actor / actress who is disinterested in the whole affair, who comes off as very arrogant (and at this event there were two people that fitted this description, but we won’t name them), whereas you get the likes of Charles Dance who looks at you when you ask if he can do an interview and apologises saying that it’s just too busy (and actually he was totally right, it was insanely busy), or Tom Skerrit who again apologises saying that he’s just too tired (and even though he was still smiling, very polite, you could tell by his voice that he was absolutely shattered).
Bai Ling goes into that special category of actor who just tries to go the extra distance, the sort that hears us out, learns about the young people behind the Jitty, why we do it, and agrees to do it without hesitation. For this reason, Bai Ling gets a huge thumbs up from us at The Jitty, along with Kevin Sorbo, Chris Judge, Magnus, Ben Browder, Gwendoline Christie and Rose Leslie.
Normally we interview bands / musicians so this is a first for us! Am I right in thinking you’ve worked with Bon Jovi?
Yes, that’s right I did! When I did that film with him I didn’t know who he was because I wasn’t from America, and I didn’t speak a great deal of English. I couldn’t even pronounce his name right! I then found out he was a big rock star, and he played my love interest in the film, “Row Your Boat”, and his role is of an ex-convict trying to get back in to society.
I’ve heard that you do your own stunts?
Oh yes, like in “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”, yes I did my own stunts, everything I did myself. I love to do that stuff. It can be scary but I enjoy the challenge. And sometimes it’s too obvious if a stunt double is used because the body language can be very different. And of course there have been times where even if a stunt double loses weight to look similar to me, they won’t go about it the same way I do, the energy and body language are different. So of course I like to take dangerous risks if I think I can do it. I like to try and do things gracefully too. Hopefully that showed in “Sky Captain”, and makes me different from other action actors. Everybody can fight, but it’s different if you let your personality come through.
So, you mention fighting, you’ve obviously had formal training, but in what form? (it’s at this point I almost regret my question, because I swear she takes a fighting stance up and has a look of “I dare you” in her eyes, and even though I did Tae Kwon Do, Jiu Jitsu and currently training in Wing Chun and Dim Mak, I have a bad feeling she’s going to take me down, but then she flashes her smile, and I breath a huge sigh of relief!).
Yes. I was in the People’s Liberation Army of China in Tibet for three years as a soldier, so I learnt combat techniques there. It’s not a specific format, but I try to adopt the styles of wild animals. I find that this helps me learn the action parts quickly. Like in Sky Captain I was given two months to learn the role, but had learnt it in two days. In “Entourage”, again they gave me three weeks, and that I could do in around three or four days. But I do earn good money for it so I make it as real as I can!
What’s been your favourite role to play?
Honestly? I enjoy them all. They’re all different. I play in drama, action, science fiction, comedy, and all the parts I’ve played in those films I loved doing. My favourite serious role though was “Red Corner”, and that was with Richard Gere playing a lawyer (as a note Red Corner received the 1997 National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award, the NBR Award for Breakthrough Female Performance for Bai Ling as well as winning the San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress), and I also won an award for a film called “Dumplings” which is something of a horror film and very different. Comedy, Taxi 3 with Luc Besson. I didn’t speak French before then, I learnt very quickly, and I could do the part well. I enjoy challenges like that, all of them!
We would like to give a special thanks to Bai Ling for being a sport and agreeing to do an interview with us, for being the first person to do so at the convention actually, for being so friendly and polite. We know she’s had a hard time of it, some of which some of our editors can relate to, and as such, we wish her every success. We’d also like to thank the awesome people at the London Film and Comic Convention (Showmasters) for making this possible.