Interview with Sung Kang

Sung Kang stars in the upcoming “Fast and the Furious” sequel “Fast Five”. Movie Mikes had chance to speak with Sung about how he got into acting as well as how he became involved with the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Adam Lawton: Had acting been something you had always wanted to?
Sung Kang: I had really wanted to be a mime. When I was in school every once in awhile they brought in a mime to perform for the students. I found it amazing that another human being could make me laugh or sad and take my mind out of the small town that I lived in growing up. I was always attracted to that idea of performance. I had started performing in plays in high school but I never really told anyone because all the cool kids were athletes. It wasn’t until after I finished college that I really went for it.

AL: Can you tell us about your work in “Mystery Men”?
SK: It was a real treat for me. That was the first time I was ever allowed into the big studio. It was really great getting to see people like William H. Macy and Geoffrey Rush work and interact with the crew. That was my first introduction as to what an actual working actor does and how they should treat their peers. It was a really great because Geoffrey Rush is one of those guys that would come and eat lunch with the other cast and ask us how we were doing. He really understood what it was for us being actors that were just starting out. It was very inspiring.

AL: How was your experience working with Bruce Willis and Justin Long on “Live Free or Die Hard”?
SK: Bruce acted very similar in the way Geoffrey Rush did. The first day I was on set he came over and welcomed me to the team. It was really nice to be around that type of person and crew. Justin really brought a lot of enthusiasm and energy to that set. Those guys as well as my other cast mates really exemplified for me what a movie should be and that’s fun.

AL: How did you get involved with “The Fast and the Furious” franchise?
SK: That evolution came about with the director Justin Lin. He and I did an independent film together called “Better Luck Tomorrow.” That movie is why he and I are in the business today. Justin had paid for that film with his credit card. We really had no money at the time and it was a passion project. That is really where the character I play in “Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift”, Han was born. In that first film Justin and I did I played an over achieving high school kid in Orange county. After “Better Luck Tomorrow” had its success at Sundance, Justin got courted by a lot of the big agents which led him to do the Disney picture “Annapolis.” Once he was done with that film the “Tokyo Drift” project came along. There originally wasn’t a part for me. Justin convinced me to come in and read for the lead even though he told me I wasn’t going to get it. However it was a chance for me to meet the casting directors. There was a small part which was being developed which originally was going to be for an African-American actor and Justin had the idea of why not make it an Asian-American role. I went in and the casting people remembered me from my previous audition so after that it was a little bit of an easier fight for that role.

AL: Can you tell us about “Fast Five”
SK: All the characters from the previous movies come back together for one final heist. Dom and his family are in need of help as they are being chased by a bounty hunter played by Dwayne Johnson. This movie I think will give the fans everything they want while really elevating the game. Each character definitely gets there due. I think the fans are really going to enjoy it.

AL: Do you think this will be the final chapter in the series?
SK: I think it depends. It’s show business so if at the end of the day if it makes money we could see “Fast and the Furious 12”!

AL: Is there one role you have played that sticks out as a favorite?
SK: I did a movie with Justin Lin called “Finishing the Game.” It takes place in 1973 right after the death of Bruce Lee. It focuses on the studio attempting to finish Bruce’s last movie “Game of Death” by using a stand in with a paper cut out of Bruce’s face. Justin had this great idea of making a film about them finding the guy who would play the stand in. That was a really great time.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects?
SK: I have a few independent projects that will be coming out soon. I am always looking for the opportunity to do good work. Maybe “Fast and the Furious 12” will come along. (Laughs)

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Interview with Philip Anthony Rodriguez

Philip Anthony Rodriguez stars as Dr. David Evans in Tyler Perry’s upcoming film “Madea’s Big Happy Family”. Movie Mikes had a chance recently to speak with Philip about the film and some of his other projects.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your upcoming film “Madea’s Big Happy Family”?
Philip Anthony Rodriguez: I play Dr. David Evans and my character is in there to give some plot turning information. I also have connections to a lot of the comedic characters in the film as well. I don’t want to give away too much information other than my character is the family physician and he finds out someone he cares for is sick. This information kind of sets things in motion and has the characters thinking of what they should do now.

AL: Can you tell us how your role in the film came about?
PAR: A few years ago I worked on Tyler Perry’s television show “Meet the Browns”. I really enjoyed the role and during my time working on the show I got to know the casting director for Tyler’s projects. She had remembered me and recommended me to Tyler. Shortly after that I received the offer to do the film.

AL: How was it working with Tyler Perry?
PAR: He is a lot of fun! Tyler runs a tight ship but it’s very laid back. We had a lot of fun on set. Tyler is a real pleasure and a class act. He has definitely been one of my favorite people to work with.

AL: Does Tyler allow you to adlib your lines or does he like to follow the script?
PAR: Tyler has a frame work for what he wants but a lot of times he will just tell you to cut loose. Tyler’s all about wanting to get a good laugh from the audience. He doesn’t go totally off script but there usually is a lot of goofiness and good times going on during shooting.

AL: Are you a fan of adlibbing or do you like to stay more to the script?
PAR: I like to try and stay as close to the script as possible. I don’t like to go too far off script as I don’t want to be disrespectful to the writer. I think sometimes though if a writer feels the actors have really good instincts they will give them the option to add their own take on the dialogue and use the original lines as guides. However I am more of a follow the script type of actor but if the writers offer me extra insight or direction I am more than willing to take it.

AL: Can you tell us when the film will be released?
PAR: The film is going to be released in April and it looks as though we are going to have a premier about a week or two before the official release in Los Angeles. This film is one of Tyler’s more popular stories so even though his studio is in Atlanta, Georgia the premier is going to be in L.A.

AL: You have also done a lot of voice over work for video games. How do you get involved with that?
PAR: I have been doing voice over work since I was a kid. I guess I sort of just fell into it. I actually was one of the first actors to be brought in when video games first started using voice over. At first I wasn’t too sure of the concept but as a kid I was a video game fan and thought the experience was really cool. It really is a lot of fun. It great to be able to just roll out of bed, go to work and not worry about what you look like. (Laughs)

AL: Out of the projects you have worked on so far do you have a favorite?
PAR: I had a really good time doing the television series “Jake 2.0”. That show was kind of coined as “Spy-Fi” and was seen as a new take on “The 6 Million Dollar Man”. I played an NSA agent that takes the main character under his wing and trains him. It was really a lot of fun. I really love that genre.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
PAR: I just started shooting season 4 of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”. The whole cast is really excited to be back for a fourth season and it looks like the episodes are going to start airing on ABC Family in March.

Interview with Gary Daniels

When you think of actions movies, you should be thinking about Gary Daniels.  He recently co-starred along side Sylvester Stallone in “The Expendables” and Wesley Snipes in “Game of Death”.  Gary took a few minutes to chat with Movie Mikes about working on his films and what he has planned upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how it working with Sylvester Stallone both acting and directing in “The Expendables”?
Gary Daniels: As you can imagine I was kinda excited at the prospect of working with the writer/creator of “Rocky” and the star of “Rambo” and I have to say working with Stallone didn’t disappoint . The man has an incredible energy, whether working out in the gym with him or working on set…the man is full of energy. He is constantly in motion but is very focused.  He knows what he wants, has a clear vision and knows how to get it. As an actor it instills confidence in you when your director is clear about what h e wants and how to go about achieving that result. He is a very intense director but I found him to be very open minded when I had any kind of suggestions about the blocking or the character. I found him to be very inspirational.

MG: What was the most difficult task of working on “The Expendables”?
GD: There wasn’t too much that was difficult about working on “The Expendables”, I have done quite a few action movies now. For me, as someone that has done leads and is used to having a lot of say in the choreography and direction of my fights, I would say the most difficult thing was not having any input in those areas.

MG: Tell us about working on the film “Game of Death”, does Wesley Snipes still have game?
GD: I was hired on “Game of Death” kinda last minute and the script was being re-written as we were shooting…which presented its own challenges. I wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity to work with Wesley Snipes, but I didn’t get to play the character of Zander the way I would have liked to.  But part of being an actor is being mailable and being able to accept direction, so I always give 100% regardless. It’s always fun playing the bad guy, especially one as ruthless as Zander. Plus its always educational when you have a chance to work with such experienced actors as Robert Davi and Wesley Snipes. Wesley was obviously going through turmoil in his life at the time we were shooting, so whether he bought his A game to the film or not I will let the viewers judge for themselves. He is obviously a talented individual or he wouldn’t have reached such heights in his career.

MG: You reunited with “Expendables” cast Eric Roberts and Steve Austin, in “Hunt to Kill”, tell us about working working on that film and with them again?
GD: Most of my scenes in “The Expendables” were with Steve and Eric, so we spent a lot of time together.  They are both very down to earth and funny guys, so we had a blast together. It was Steve that called me and asked me to work on “Hunt to Kill”, so it was an easy choice to say “Yes”. I didn’t have any scenes with Eric in “Hunt to Kill” but was with Steve most of the time. For a bloke that looks so big and intimidating he is one of the nicest guys you can hope to work with on and off the set. On this film I got to choreograph and shoot a fight between us. It is always a challenge to choreograph for the different kinds of athletes, actors, martial artists that you work with in films and this was no different trying to highlight both of our strengths as we are obviously from very different backgrounds.

MG: How was it working with Steven Seagal in “Submerged”, any cool set stories?
GD: ‘Submerged’ was not one of my favourite experiences, my character was originally very pivotal , but Mr Seagal had other ideas and in the end.  They might as well of hired a stuntman to play the role as all the dialogue and relationship between his and my character was cut. Well every actor has their own vision for their films and being the star of the film you will usually get your way so for me I just get on with it and do the best I can under the given circumstances. Actually most of the cast and crew were from England,  so we all had a blast on and off the set. Nuff said!

MG: Tell us about playing Kenshirô in “Fist of the North Star” and working with Tony Randel?
GD: I was a fan of the anime before I was asked to do the film. So I knew it was gonna be very difficult to translate the anime to live action, especially back in 94 before CGI had been so developed. But I loved the character that I wasn’t about to turn it down. The first challenge for me was the physical one, Kenshiro (like most anime characters) has an awsome, huge physique. So I began a regime of training lifting heavier weights than I had worked with before and went from 180 to 192 lbs. Trouble is we were working such long hours during the summer in a sweltering sound stage with no air conditioning, that as the shoot progressed I slowly lost all that weight as I couldnt get in the gym to maintain. I think Tony had a good vision for the film but he certainly wasn’t into martial arts and didn’t like to shoot the fights. He felt the heart of the story was the love triangle between Kenshiro, Shin and Julia and that by focusing on that it would elevate the film above being a mere ‘martial arts’ film. Personally I think the fans wanted to see Kenshiro kicking ass. Again different visions, but overall I like the film and the way it turned out. The trouble when making an adaptation of an anime or video game is that you have to try to make a film that appeases the hardcore fans but also makes sense to viewers that have no idea about the original source material…not easy.

MG: What has been the most difficult film that you have work on to date?
GD: Every film presents its own challenges. Coming from a martial arts background my hardest challenge is trying to convince producers/directors to take me seriously as an actor so sometimes I end up trying too hard. Then when I choreograph action its tough getting the powers that be to let me control how it is shot and edited. When I do the lead in smaller films, I  wish I could work on bigger films that get more exposure. When you get on bigger films but playing smaller roles,  I miss being involved in the film making process.  The grass is always greener on the other side. Some films you get along with everybody but some there is a clash with other cast members, as I say every film presents their own challenges.

MG: Tell us about some of your upcoming projects?
GD: I just spent three months in Thailand working on the 1st two parts of a trilogy , “The Mark – Light 777” and “The Mark – Bangkok Rising” with Craig Scheffer and Eric Roberts…yes Eric again. The 3rd part will be shot in Europe this summer. Next up will be the lead in a MMA project called “Forced to Fight”. I am also waiting to hear on a bigger project that goes this summer but its not locked so I don’t wanna say too much right now. I am training hard and reading scripts ,so as always in this business the future is never easy to plan.