The buzz is feverish for Marvel Studios’ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS! Starring Toronto’s own Simu Liu, the Action-Fantasy takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Shang-Chi (Liu) was trained at a young age to be an Assassin and after living a normal life in San Francisco, he’s draw-in to the Ten Rings organization, having to face again a part of his life he left behind. The Film is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy) and stars a notable Cast including Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Sir Ben Kingsley, Meng’er Zhang and Ronny Chieng.
We got to sit-in on on the global Press Conference for the Film and joining us were:
Destin Daniel Cretton – Director
Kevin Feige – Producer
Simu Liu – Shang-Chi
Awkwafina – Katy
Ben Kingsley – Trevor Slattery
Meng’er Zhang – Xialing
Ronny Chieng – Jon Jon (Moderator)
Destin Daniel Cretton is asked what drew him to take on directing SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS.
Cretton: I feel the stories I am drawn to are a combination of humour and optimism, but also not shying away from the very real darkness and pain that we all experience as humans. I think this Movie really does encapsulate a lot of the things that I believe in.
Sir Ben Kingsley talks about cultural conversation and social impact of his Oscar-winning role in Gandhi and whether Shang-Chi in terms of storytelling and societywill have similar impact.
Cretton: When you hear Destin‘s intentions behind this story, they are crystal-clear, lucid, pure motives. They are life-enhancing and not patronizing, because they do introduce in a beautiful way, memory, ancestry, loss and families torn apart, reunited and reconfigured. All of this is from Destin‘s heart, Kevin‘s heart and the Writers’ hearts. And if your motives are pure as a storyteller, the angels will come to assist you with that story.
This story ultimately will be healing because it’s not propaganda, it’s just a really beautiful story. I as an Actor, Trevor (reprising his Iron Man 3 character)of course is a Shakespearean actor and he finds himself transported into a completely exotic environment, but he survives. And thanks to the welcome Kevin, Destin and my beautiful colleagues gave me. I have done 17 out of Shakespeare‘s whole canon of plays, so I’m sort of a Shakespearean actor. As soon as I arrived on-set, the fact that my colleagues were of a different culture was immaterial and irrelevant. We are Actors together and we live on empathy and transformation and this is our currency. All the rest is irrelevant. If we can demonstrate that energy, ultimately it will be healing and soothing.
Meng’erZhang talks about stage acting and film acting, playing Shang-Chi‘s estranged sister, Xialing.
Zhang: Oh, it was so different because this was my very first film experience and I am so lucky to work with all of them. Sir Ben, I asked him a lot of questions on-set. As he said so beautifully, when we are on-stage, we are landscape artists and when we are in front of camera, we are portrait artists. And I felt that gave me a very clear image. I literally took notes!
Kingsley: I thought you were just correcting my spelling!
Zhang: I also remember when we were doing some stunts, it was so different from stage acting. I remember the makeup team doing the final touch-up on my fringe to make sure everything was perfect. Someone came to tell me ‘Meng’er, there’s going to be a bit of wind and water’, so I said ‘Okay!’ and I was ready. Then, 3-2-1, action! And then the wind was like… (making aggressive wind sounds). And then okay, reset! (laughing).
Awkwafina talks about physicality of her character Katy, a close friend toShang-Chi.
Awkwafina: I’d say this was slightly more physically demanding. But not physically-demanding as in like wind, but more like I was falling as a team with gravity. When I fall, my neck kinda gives out. It’s kind of a ‘me issue’ as I don’t have the will power to lift it up.
I actually went to a race track and learned how to drift, which was really fun but probably not practical in any scenario. And I learned how to shoot a bow and arrow.
Simu Liu comments on working with some of the Film’s heavy hitters.
Liu: It was like Impostor Syndrome every single day. Truly, it was such a treat. I did all I could do not to mess it up. When I was first cast, I did my final screen test with Nora (Awkwafina) and she did such a wonderful job putting me at ease. My nerves were sky-high. I was an Actor from Toronto and never had ever allowed myself to imagine being part of the MCU(Marvel Cinematic Universe). I mean, it’s the craziest dream someone could possibly dream. Nora did a great job putting me at ease. And just being in the moment with me. We had such a beautiful chemistry. This bickery, old couple chemistry right from the get-go. As I met more members of the Cast like Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh and Sir Ben, every day it was like waking-up to another dream. And then having Meng’er come join us too when we were all in Sydney, it was fantastic. She was great. I can’t wait for people to watch the Movie because who you are in real life and in the Movie, they are really parts of you, but really so polar opposite.
Ronny, you were fine. We were shut down for four months during the pandemic.Ronny, was living a couple floors above me.
Awkwafina: Ronny, would come with me and sneak into the gym and say ‘I’ve been working out with Simu!’
Chieng: I’m trying to get that free Marvel workout. You know what? I’m going to use this pandemic to get super-ripped and I end up doing 10% of the weights Simu was doing every day!
Simu Liu talks about on his casting.Is it true he Tweeted at Marvel and got the role of Shang-Chi?
Liu: When you Tweet at Marvel, you’re thinking it’s going to some 19-year-old intern and nobody’s gonna ready that or care what I have to say! Maybe they did!
Feige: I did not see that! Unfortunately Simu, it was not your Tweeting. It was your acting ability and constant professionalism and multiple reads and meetings that you did. Now did Sarah Finn our Casting Director see that, that I don’t know! That’s a cosmic wonder!
Daniel Destin Cretton comments on the use of Mandarin-Chinese in scenes in the Film.
Cretton: The conversation behind which language they should be speaking was always rooted in the logic of the character and who would naturally be speaking what language. So that started in the Writers’ Room and once our Actors came in, it was always a dialogue. These are bilingual, trilingual, quadrilingual characters who could speak whatever made sense at the time. So we were constantly having the conversation what made sense for the scene.
Feige: One moment I particularly like is where Simu‘s character speaks to Awkwafina‘s character and says ‘Oh no, my Chinese isn’t good’ and Simu’s character says, ‘Don’t worry, I speak ABC!’.
Awkwafina: That was really a big moment. Culturally, you just never see that.
Liu: ABC means American-born Chinese but it’s the first time in a Movie where someone just calls it out!
Marvel Studios Canada release SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS Friday, September 3, 2021.