Monday, April 28, 2003
X2 JUNKET: KELLY HU (LADY DEATHSTRIKE)
QUESTION: How important is martial arts training in a film like this?
HU: Well this film, actually, in the choreography, they didn't want it to look very martial artsy, per se. They didn't want it to come out looking like a Jackie Chan film or anything. The choreographer was very, very adamant about making it look like these two vicious mutant fighters, rather than something that was choreographed like martial arts.
When you get to work in this sort of realm of fantasy, you're not limited to what humans can do. You can take it so much further. I think the choreographer was able to come up with these really amazing, amazing ideas, putting it to actual, practical use is like a different story. You can imagine a person flying around the room, but to actually have them flying around the room is a whole different story.
I think, though, that they were able to come up with some great choreography and great ways to actually execute it, and I'm so incredibly thrilled with the final outcome of it. I can't even tell you. I'm just in awe -- of myself.
QUESTION: What did they actually put on your nails to make it look like claws and also how hard was it to deal with those things?
HU: They actually took molds of my hands and fitted each claw to the fingertip of my hand. I grew out my fingernails, and they were able to crazy glue them onto the bottom of my fingernails. These pieces that they were able to shape are just beautiful works of art, really. If you look at them closely, they're really beautiful. They made it out of a very pliable plastic, so they were very light and easy to work with and they wouldn't actually hurt anyone if I really managed to hit someone, namely myself. They were able to make them light enough and it wasn't hard for me to move in them or anything.
There were some points, a lot of times where they show me stabbing through him and things where it was just too dangerous to have them in, or just not practical, because you can't show my claws going through his body if I can't get close enough to his body. So a lot of that stuff was CGIed.
As I watched the film I remembered doing some things with the claws and doing some things without and I watched the film to see if I could tell the difference, and you can't. You can't even tell the difference between the real claws and the fake ones. It's amazing.
QUESTION: When you're filming and you've got the claws on and then you take a break and want to get a glass of water or something, what do you do?
HU: It is such a challenge to be walking round the set with these eight-inch nails, nine-inch nails -- that's a band, isn't it -- and you can't do anything. You're basically held hostage by your hands. I mean, you can scratch your head, but you can't like, take off a coat. You can't take anything off the craft service table. Using the bathroom was a huge challenge. I got very, very close to my wardrobe people and I tried not to drink water all day. It was really difficult.
QUESTION: Were you ever able to cut loose with Hugh (Jackman, Wolverine) or was every bit of the fight scenes filmed in short, sectional pieces where you can't really see the bigger picture?
HU: Yeah, you know when you shoot a fight scene like that, especially when you're working with wires, you have to shoot little pieces at a time, because every move is wired differently. It has to be lit differently and shot differently. It takes weeks to come up with the little fight scene that we have. I don't know exactly how many minutes it is on camera.
But, yeah, there is no master shot. Because you just can't. You're flying through the air through half of it. You can't do a master going, "OK. At this part, this is where she flies and she lands here." It wouldn't work. So you do have to take little bits and pieces.
The way the choreographer and director of this fight did it was just genius, though. He put it all together, on his computer, with the stunt doubles. So we kind of had an idea of what it was gonna look like because he showed us, sort of, sloppily edited together on his computer. So we knew each piece that we were doing. We could see it as we were doing it, with the doubles having done it with the wires and everything. So it gave us a much better idea of what was coming up next and the rhythm of the fight.
QUESTION: We heard a lot about what came out of that scene to keep it PG-13. Was there initially a lot of blood in your performance?
HU: We worked with a little bit of blood, but the challenge was...you know, the fact that they both have regenerative powers, you can't have the blood and then not have the blood in the same shot. So a lot of that stuff is CGIed. I think a lot of the parts that they had to take away because of the ratings were the strikes and maybe the blood in the tanks and things like that. Otherwise we had little bits of blood on our face and whatnot, but it would all heal if you had regenerative powers.
QUESTION: The wire work looks so cool when you see it on screen, but I would imagine it's not so much fun. What does it take to get used to that?
HU: Oh my God. It's so hard. You think you're physically fit and you think you have coordination until you get hoisted up on wires and just hung from different pick points on your body and you quickly discover what your body distribution is like. You know, I thought that I was very agile and I could probably get my butt over my head very easily but I didn't realize how heavy my butt is, how heavy that whole part of my body was.
It's a whole different muscle. A lot of the muscles that you're working with when you're on wires is like internal stuff, using your stomach muscles to hoist you around.
And it's not a science, either. It's quite scary sometimes. There's this one part where I do this sort of helicopter spin. Basically they just pick point you from the back of the neck, so you can spin around this wire, and they have one wire that wraps around your body and they just pull it. So you're like a top, spinning in the air. It's a little bit scary because it's not a science and it's very easy to get hurt and get tangled up in the wires. When you're upside down especially you don't know where the wires are and you don't have an idea of what direction you're even in sometimes. So, yeah, it gets really dangerous.
I've had a couple of times when I got tangled up in the wires and things like that. Certainly a lot of bruises from the harness, just being hoisted up there. It's like having a giant wedgie. Basically they make these harnesses as comfortable as possible, but they have to be hidden under all your clothes, so they can't be big. They have to make them as small as possible. So it's all of your body weight in this harness. You walk off the set with bruises just from having the harness on and being hoisted up, much less bruises from actually being hurt and hit and stuff.
QUESTION: At some point you stop being and actor and start being a technician, don't you?
HU: Yes. Very much.
QUESTION: You're not acting any more.
HU: Yeah, it's hard to remember all that choreography, to remember all that those little details, not to get your hair tangled in the wires, to remember to do all of this on a very specific point, because you could actually, physically get hurt. You could lose an arm or something -- and act all at the same time.
It's a whole different skill learning to fight, especially when you've got wire work involved.
QUESTION: Is your character a nemesis in the Wolverine video game?
HU: I actually had to play that video game for the first time. I never play video games. I'm so bad at it. I have no manual dexterity. I can kick your head off but I can't like play a stupid little video game. I suck.
And I actually spent the first whole part of the game, trying to play, and I thought that I was playing Deathstrike, because it was Wolverine against Deathstrike. For like the first 10 minutes, I was wondering why I couldn't get this character to do anything and then he told me, "You're Wolverine. You're playing against the Deathstrike!"
I thought, "Oh, OK! That makes so much more sense now."
QUESTION: How is that, to see yourself in a video game?
HU: It's really fun, to have all of these games made and these dolls made after you. It's strange, because this will be my second doll because I had the first one from Scorpion King. It's weird to walk into someone's office and seeing your doll doing center splits on top of their computer.
QUESTION: Do men get intimidated when they realize you can actually kick their head off?
HU: That would explain why I can't get really a date these days. I hope I don't intimidate guys too much. Women are playing much stronger characters these days. They're just gonna have to get used to it.
QUESTION: Which of your dolls is the most realistic-looking?
HU: You know, I haven't seen the new doll yet, the X-Men doll. I'm hoping that it looks a lot like me. I know that the Scorpion King doll didn't look anything like me.
They did actual scans of my head and my body, but then the first thing I did when I saw the doll -- I lifted up her skirt to see and there was this huge space between her legs and I said, "That's not anatomically correct!"
And they said, "Well, they had to make her that way and your doll can do the center splits and in order to do the center splits it has to be built this way."
And I said, "Why is it necessary from my doll to do the center splits. Rock's doll doesn't do the center splits."
Apparently it's a way-cool thing to have a doll that can do that, not a cool thing when it's supposed to look like you.
QUESTION: What was it like to work with Ian McKellen?
HU: I didn't actually get to work a lot with Ian McKellen. He and my character don't really meet up at any point in the film. But I did get to be on set with him when he was working and hung out with him a lot off screen. He's awesome. He was like the guy who was always through the parties and the dinners and stuff.
That was one of my biggest fears, coming into this film, was walking into this group of people who already had this history, and worked together, and this rapport and then being sort of like the new kid on the block. I thought I was gonna be eating lunch by myself and all this stuff. But they were so awesome.
Ian would invite me to the parties right away. I got to know these people and I felt very included. So yeah, I was a bit nervous about them at first and having to stand up to these amazing actors and hold my own. They just made me feel so comfortable. It was so much easier than I thought it would be.
QUESTION: What about stepping into this world with this huge, vocal fan base. Have you had fan encounters?
HU: I actually got invited to Comic-Con while we were shooting this. It was such an amazing experience. I had no idea how big this comic book world is I grew up with comics like Archie and Richie Rich. I didn't even know that the X-Men comics existed until the first movie came out. I didn't actually see an X-Men comic until I started researching my character for this film.
So when I went to this convention, it was really an eye-opener. There were like 50 thousand comic-book fans walking around in like costumes and what not. They knew so many details about these comic-book worlds. It was phenomenal.
I, at that point, had just started shooting. I wasn't allowed to give out anything about my character. I wasn't allowed to say who I was playing or what my special powers were or whether I was a mutant or not, or what my relationships were, or anything about the story at all. It was kept so secret that walking into this comic book world of 50 thousand people was like being bombarded. It was like a sheep walking into like 50 thousand wolves.
They picked up on the tiniest little details. I was like, "I can't tell you anything. I can't tell you anything. That's a secret. That's a secret!"
Then one of these guys noticed I had silver finger nail polish on and he goes, "does that have anything to do with your character?"
I mean, it was just amazing. These guys picked up on the tiniest little details. If I batted my eye wrong when I was telling them something, they would pick up on it and it would be on the Internet the next day.
QUESTION: Did experiencing Comic-Con world change the way you felt about the responsibility towards the fans?
HU: Very much so. The comic-book fans, especially X-Men fans are so serious about their comic book. I was really worried about it. I was worried about how it was going be received, how my character was going to be received, but Bryan is such an amazing director.
Bryan Singer is so amazingly talented. He was able to put together a trailer for Comic-Con, giving them a sneak peek of our film, with just four weeks of shooting. None of it had any special effects. There was none of that...no exploding or any of that action stuff. It was just all the story of what we had shot in four weeks. He had managed to put this together.
And it was so well received. People were standing up and cheering. They asked to see the trailer again. After having seen that response I felt so much better and felt like I was really in good hands.
QUESTION: Isn't it a little weird about how much they're into it?
HU: It's weird, I guess, to some people to be so into this world that doesn't really exist, but I think it's a great way to focus your energy. It's something that's very positive. There's no negative repercussions. It's not like getting into drugs or something. If kids are going to get into these comic books and spend all of their time researching these characters, let them. It's so much better than getting into all this other mischief that they could possible get in trouble with and get themselves into.
QUESTION: Did you have any temptation to go out for Halloween in your costume?
HU: I was actually thinking it would be funny to dress up as Lady Deathstrike for Halloween, but no one would know who I was yet. I actually wanted to be Wolverine. They dressed up Hugh's son as Wolverine for Halloween and he came trick or treating. Then there was another day when they dressed up his sister, that was visiting on set, as Wolverine.
Now, that I've sort of existed in this comic-book realm, it's hard to dress up as anyone else for Halloween. I used to be Pocahontas every year. That's kind of dull now.
QUESTION: Who gets credit for the whole knuckle-cracking thing? Did you have a prosthesis?
HU: I really do crack my knuckles a lot in life. That's why I have hands like an 85-year-old woman. But it was all special effects, all of this stuff. The effects department in this film have really done their work. They really earned their money. It came out so quickly. From the moment we stopped shooting until now, hasn't even been a year and there were so many different effects to put in this film, I'm amazed that this film has come out on time.
Click here to buy X-Men 2 posters!
E-mail the Continuum at RobAlls@aol.com
Copyright © 2003, The Comics Continuum