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TUESDAY, MARCH 31 2009

DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION: CHOW YUN-FAT

DURANGO, Mexico -- The Continuum kicks off a series of features from the set of Dragonball: Evolution, with Chow Yun-Fat, who plays Master Roshi.

Taking a break between green-screen shooting on his final day on location last March, the veteran actor pulled up a crate and sat down with visiting reporters for a brief interview.

Following is an edited transcription of that interview.

Question: Who is Master Roshi?

Chow Yun-Fat: Have you ever seen the cartoon? I saw some pictures but I had this challenge of not having seen all the cartoons and the comic books. But based on the story itself from the script, I think Master Roshi is a very funny guy, full of a sense of humor and he can master the super power. Because Master Roshi has a lot of super powers, he has to carry on for his good friend Gohan and he has to take care of Goku. So I like the master and the student relationship. It is not like traditional Chinese kind of master and student relationship, this is more like friends.

Question: Why did you want to do this film?

Chow Yun-Fat: I think the character itself. I've never, ever had this kind of character from the comic books. For me, it is very new -- comedy, drama, action, all the CGI -- it's very interesting.

Question: Were you a fan of Dragonball previously?

Chow Yun-Fat: Honestly, when they were released in 1985 or '86, in that period I was so busy when I was in Hong Kong doing all the John Woo movies, so I missed it. But I can catch up later.

Question: Are used to working with CGI?

Chow Yun-Fat: Oh, no, This is the first time. I did some wirework in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and or two shots were CGI, but not this many (as in Dragonball), 40-50 percent. I do martial arts in this a little bit, but it's more a super power.

Question: How do you describe Master Roshi's sense of humor?

Chow Yun-Fat: The ingredients were already written in the script. The sense of humor is from the comic-book character.

Question:In the comic books, he's kind of a dirty old man, very lecherous. Does that translate into this PG version?

Chow Yun-Fat: I think Jim (director James Wong) did a very good job to balance the East and West. They know the audiences in West or Europe don't accept this kind of over-the-top, you know. Maybe it's not very suitable for R-rating. If Master Roshi acts like his character from the comic book, that would be very crazy. (laughs) I saw the script, which is very, very appropriate for my character now. Not too much but you can sense it a little bit. For instance, in the cartoon, Master Roshi is more than 300 years-old. He's a dirty old man with a white beard, but this is different.

Question:Can you talk about working with James Wong?

Chow Yun-Fat: James Wong as a writer and director, he can show everything. He knows how to play every single scene. He gives me a lot of room to create Master Roshi. I realize that sometimes -- not sometimes, all the time -- I'm over the top. He tells me, ≥Mr. Chow, too much, too much, fall back.≤ Which is good because this is the first time for this actor and this American director to make a movie together. The East and West blend together is good. You have to think about it, you use some technique, some skill to make it balanced. Yin and yang.

Question: How do you like working in comedy, as opposed to action?

Chow Yun-Fat: Action is more physical. Comedy is difficult for any actor, except Jim Carrey. Timing for a comedy is very difficult. I try, I try. I hope they like it.

Question: Do you now feel comfortable acting in English?

Chow Yun-Fat: Honestly, I'm still learning everyday with my coach. My English is bad. But if you stick to Hong Kong, making all the Hong Kong domestic movies, sooner or later you come up with good idea and Hollywood will buy you out, replace the director and some good actor replacing me. I think it was good opportunities that led to me learn more English because that gave me more opportunity for my age. If I am acting in my country, that would be very limited character for me because I'm already over 50. This is the fact, and you have to face it. So more or less, if I'm exposed in the Western world, maybe there will be more opportunities to let me play.

Question: How did you get along with your cast members on this film? Do they ask you questions?

Chow Yun-Fat: They more or less respect Master Roshi as Chow Yun-Fat, you know. We have a lot of fun on the set. You know, Emmy (Rossum), she knows how to sing and dance. Joon Park is a rap singer and Justin (Chatwin), he loves music. Every day on the set was like a party, a lot of fun. Even though I'm over 50, I'm still like 25. I'm learning energy -- and crazy thinking!

Question: What was the most challenging scene for you in this film?

Chow Yun-Fat: The opening scene. You have to make it funny and make it serious to tell the younger generation because Bulma and Goku are coming to my home looking for the Dragonball. Finally, I have to tell them the background story. It is a fun scene, but there is a lot of background story.

Question: As an Asian actor in Hollywood, you get cast in a lot of stereotypical roles...

Chow Yun-Fat: Yeah, the gangster, or waiter, or mafia or drug dealer.

Question: Do you feel this is a nice change of pace for you?

Chow Yun-Fat: It is great opportunity to let audience see another side of Chow Yun-Fat. Or maybe you can see Yun-Fat in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or you can see him as the King of Siam, but he always carries two guns, he's always the killer. So more as an actor on certain levels, we don't want to change, not in the money way or the working way. It's the interpretation of the characters that I want to take in a different direction.




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