Press Conference: The Cast And Crew of ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ Dive Into What The Movie Means To Them
During the global press conference for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the cast and crew sat down to answer some questions and discuss their experiences with this film. Already, the superhero movie has received some praise online with its action sequences and storytelling. We got a chance to join in and learn more about how the cast and crew were feeling about the first Asian-American Marvel superhero on the big screen.
Present at the press conference were producer Kevin Feige, director and writer Destin Daniel Cretton, Sir Ben Kingsley (Trevor Slattery), Meng’er Zhang (Xialing), Awkwafina aka Nora Lum (Katy), and Simu Liu (Shang-Chi). Ronny Chieng (Jon Jon) moderated and also brought a sprinkling of chaos to the delightful panel.
Awkwafina expressed how physical this movie is compared to the previous work she’s done.
Lum: I say this was slightly more physically demanding. […] I was more like falling so it’s more like I was working as a team with gravity. When I fall, my neck kind of gives out. […] It’s a me problem, you know, I just don’t have the kind of willpower to lift it up, so that’s where I’m at. […] I actually went to a racetrack and like learned how to drift, which is really fun. […] And then I learned how to shoot a bow and arrow.
Meng’er Zhang shared that this was her first film experience and how it compared to her theatre work.
Zhang: [Stage acting and film acting are] so different. This is my very first film experience, and I am so lucky to work with all of them. And Sir Ben [Kingsley], I asked him a lot of questions on set, and I asked him that question [about the difference between stage acting and film acting]. […] And he said, “So when we are on stage, we are landscape artists, and when we are in front of a camera, we are portrait artists.” And that just gave me a very clear image and I learned so much. I literally took notes every time when I talked to Sir Ben.
Simu Liu spoke about his awe of being on set with movie legends Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Sir Ben Kingsley, etc.
Liu: I mean it was like imposter syndrome every single day. […] Truly it was such a treat and it was all I could do just to not mess it up. When I was first cast, I did my final screen test with Nora, and she did such a wonderful job at putting me at ease. My nerves were sky-high. I was an actor from Toronto. I really had never allowed myself to imagine being part of the MCU. […] And just as I met more the members of the cast like Tony and Michelle and Sir Ben, I mean, it’s just every day it was like waking up to another dream.
The cast reflected upon their chemistry with one another both on- and off-screen.
Liu: Nora did such a great job of putting me at ease and being in the moment with me and we had such beautiful chemistry. This like bickery, old couple chemistry right from the get-go. […] Then having Meng’er join us too when we were all in Sydney was fantastic because she was great […]. I can’t wait for people to watch the movie and to know [Meng’er] because who you are in real life and who you are in the movie because they are both parts of you but they’re so hilariously polar opposite too.
Director and writer Destin Daniel Cretton explained the decisions for the movie’s multilingual approach and when and why certain dialogues would be spoken in English and Mandarin.
Cretton: The conversation behind which language should be speaking was always rooted in just the logic of the character and who would naturally be speaking what language. And so that conversation started right in the writers’ room. And once our actors came in, it was always a dialogue. These are all bilingual, trilingual, quadrilingual characters who could speak whatever made sense at the time, so we were constantly having the discussion of what made sense for the scene.
Liu: What I really loved is that moment where [Ronny’s] character is talking to Awkwafina’s character and she’s like, “Oh no, my Chinese isn’t good,” and you’re like, “Oh no, no worries, I speak ABC.”
Lum: That was really a big moment. Culturally, you never see that.
Liu: Yeah, you called it out, and ABC of course means “American Born Chinese.” But it’s just this first time that you see in a movie, someone just calling out a lived experience.
Destin Daniel Cretton connected with the titular character which made him want to tell this story.
Cretton: I really personally connect with Shang-Chi’s journey. I love that this is a superhero that doesn’t get splashed with chemicals to get his superpower–that it is a journey of self-discovery, of growing up, of learning how to finally deal with the pain that he’s been running away from his entire life and that when he is finally able to look inside into his past and embrace good, bad, the joy, the pain, and accept it all as a part of himself–that’s when he finally steps into his big boy shoes, and I think that’s kind of what we’re all doing as humans in some way or another, so I really connect with that.
When asked if Sumi Liu’s viral tweet about Shang-Chi affected his casting, producer Kevin Feige admittedly never saw it.
Feige: I did not see that, no. Unfortunately, Simu, it was not your tweeting; it was your acting ability, your constant professionalism, and the multiple reads and meetings that you did. Now did Sarah Finn see that – our casting director, I don’t know the answer.
Cretton: I do think the universe saw that.
Liu: Speak it into the universe and it will find a way.