Set Visit Interview: Franchise Newcomer Li BingBing Talks Ada Wong in Resident Evil: Retribution
When it came time for Paul W.S. Anderson to cast fan favorite character Ada Wong, he went with Li BingBing, a huge star in Chinese cinema but generally an unknown face to American audiences--that is, until Resident Evil: Retribution hits theaters everywhere this September as there's no doubt that BingBing will leave a lasting impression with her performance (and red dress) in the upcoming sequel.
During our recent set visit to Toronto, Dread Central chatted with BingBing with the assistance of an interpreter since the actress is still getting a grasp on her rapidly improving English language speaking skills (with only a few weeks under her belt, it was rather remarkable). During our interview BingBing discussed coming on board Resident Evil: Retribution to play such a widely revered character in the video game series as well as her thoughts on how the stunt work here compares to what she's experienced while working in China and whether or not fans will see Ada and Leon hook up during Retribution.
Q: How much of the character Ada Wong did you know before Paul hired you for the film?
Li BingBing: I didn't know Ada Wong very well.
Q: Did you know there was a big fan base?
BingBing: Yes. I know 'Resident Evil' is a very famous game and that a lot of game fans follow 'Resident Evil'. I know Ada Wong is a very famous character in the game so there's a lot of fans of Ada Wong in China. So when I got this news from Paul, that they invited me to play Ada Wong, everyone has been so excited for me to play Ada.
Q: What did it feel like putting on that red dress for the first time?
BingBing: (Laughs) You know what, the red dress looks like I should be walking on the red carpet, but the thing is that when I wear the gun holster, it looks totally different. It's like cool and sexy and mysterious.
Q: Like in the games, is there kind of a love connection between Ada and Leon in this movie?
BingBing: Uh, in this movie I think Paul still loved to keep the relationship, the emotion between Leon and me, very subtle between us.
Q: Do you like doing action movies?
BingBing: You know what, actually for me, I really love to do action movies. In this movie we have a part when I meet Milla in a control room for the first time, and I did a flip in the air with wires. It's fantastic. I was so excited with that. And when I shot a gun for the first time, the crew gave me gun training right before we started to shoot the movie, it was so exciting and totally different.
Q: How did you get the role? Did you audition? Can you talk about how you got the part?
BingBing: I am not really sure how I got this role, but I did audition. After a very few days, they gave me the reply and they said, 'We loved you. We want to invite you to be Ada Wong.' So I was surprised by how fast I got my reply. So exciting!
Q: Can you talk about some of the zombies or the monsters that you have to fight in the film?
BingBing: I don't have to fight with the monsters this time. I only need to fight with Jill and Michelle.
Q: What was it like working with some of these cast members, just interacting with them and being in this English language movie?
BingBing: In this movie I worked with Milla in all of my scenes so we're very close. She's treated me very, very nice and when we shoot outside in the cold, every time she'd make sure wardrobe gave me a warm jacket to put on first, and then she got hers. Really kind.
You know what? At the beginning I felt too shy to open my mouth to speak in English, and I just thought, 'If I don't open my mouth, I won't make any mistakes with anyone.' So I just kept silent and just used my eyes to...(Laughter). But you know, over time we have all been getting closer and everyone's kidding or playing together so as we get to know each other more and more, then I dare to open my mouth to speak more English. Nobody has laughed at my English; they've all said, 'Oh, your English is amazing!' I know everyone is just encouraging me, but everyone treat me like I was in a very cozy family.
Q: Do you find your English has improved throughout the shoot then?
BingBing: Of course, absolutely.
Q: We've heard that there's going to be another movie after this one, another 'Resident Evil' movie. Has anyone spoken to you about that and given you any indication whether you'll be back for the next movie?
BingBing: Paul said on the next Resident Evil he will ask Milla to speak Chinese. (Laughter) It's joke because, you know, when I was on set, sometime I was stuck, and he just encouraged me and gave me more confidence But you mean do I know if I'll be back for Resident Evil 6?
BingBing: Nobody knows that! Ask Paul. (Laughter)
Q: When you started acting back home in China, was it always your ambition to come to America to make films?
BingBing: Sometimes we don't have to think about what we're going to do next. I think a lot of things are given by fate. But there's a philosophy that I live by: If God gives you a big cake, he first has to torture you a little bit.
Q: Have you found the American fight scenes to be more difficult or easier than in China?
BingBing: Mmm...it's different. There's a lot of techy things that are happening here that don't exist over there...for example, how they cut the shots. How they divide up...how the shots are taken, from what angle, etc...but in China they stress more of an ability to fight, rather than cutting and making it look like they can fight.
Written and directed by Paul Anderson, Re5ident Evil: Retribution stars Milla Jovovich, Boris Kodjoe, Li Bingbing, Kevin Durand, Shawn Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Johann Urb, and Colin Salmon. Look for Re5ident Evil: Retribution in theatres on September 14, 2012 from Screen Gems.
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