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Nine Inch Nails: Kelly Hu talks ‘X2’

by  in Movies News, TV News
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She can kick your head off, she’s not afraid of X-Fans and she’s on her second
action figure, but is Kelly Hu ready to take on Wolverine in “X2?”

The actress recently sat down with the press for roundtable interviews.
Several members of the press took turns asking questions about the new mutant
movie. Comics2Film/CBR News is pleased to provide readers with an edited
transcript of that conversation.

Warning: This transcript contains spoilers.

 

Kelly Hu (KH): [Sits down in front of the microphones] I feel like the
president.

Q: Don’t say that.

KH: [laughs] Yeah, it wouldn’t be good these days.

 

Q: Don’t you have a brother in the military?

KH: I do. Yeah, he’s a major in the army: a major pain in the ass.

 

Q: Does that maybe give you a different perspective on all the world events?


KH: It maybe does. It maybe gives me a different perspective than most people
in Hollywood. People in this industry have been very vocal about being against
the war. Growing up in a military family, my dad was also in the military. He
didn’t make a career out of it the way my brother did, but I also have uncles
who did, and whatnot. I guess it gives me a different perspective on going in
and doing their duties and fighting and being much more patriotic, I think.

My brother, although he’s not been shipped out there, realizes that it would
be his duty to fight for his country and I think he would do it very proudly, as
I’m sure that all of these other men who have gone abroad to fight do. I
wouldn’t want him to be in that situation, where he gets shipped off and
possibly has to put his life on the line. However, I understand the importance
of it and may be more understanding than some in Hollywood.

 

Q: How important is your martial arts training in a film like “X2”?

KH: Well this film, actually, in the choreography, they didn’t want it to
look very martial artsy, per se. They didn’t want it to come out looking like a
Jackie Chan film or anything. The choreographer was very, very adamant about
making it look like these two vicious mutant fighters, rather than something
that was choreographed like martial arts.

When you get to work in this sort of realm of fantasy, you’re not limited to
what humans can do. You can take it so much further. I think the choreographer
was able to come up with these really amazing, amazing ideas, putting it to
actual, practical use is a different story. You can imagine a person flying
around the room, but to actually have them flying around the room is a whole different
story.

I think though that they were able to come up with some great choreography
and great ways to actually execute it, and I’m so incredibly thrilled with the
final outcome of it. I can’t even tell you. I’m just in awe…of myself
[laughs].

 

Q: What did they actually put on your nails to make it look like claws and
how hard was it to deal with those things?


KH: They actually took molds of my hands and fitted each claw to the
fingertip of my hand. I grew out my fingernails and they were able to crazy glue
them onto the bottom of my fingernails. These pieces that they were able to
shape are just beautiful works of art, really. If you look at them closely
they’re really beautiful. They made it out of a very pliable plastic, so they
were very light and easy to work with and they wouldn’t actually hurt anyone if
I really managed to hit someone, namely myself. They were able to make them
light enough so that it wasn’t hard for me to move in them or anything.

There were some points, a lot of times where they show me stabbing through
him and things where it was jus too dangerous to have them in, or just not
practical, because you can’t show my claws going through his body if I can’t get
close enough to his body. So a lot of that stuff was CGI. 

As I watched the film I remembered doing some things with the claws and doing
some things without and I watched the film to see if I could tell the
difference, and you can’t. You can’t even tell the difference between the real
claws and the fake ones. It’s amazing. 

 

Q: When you’re filming and you’ve got the claws on and then you take a break
and want to get a glass of water or something, what do you do?


KH: It is such a challenge to be walking round the set with these eight-inch
nails, nine-inch nails — that’s a band, isn’t it — and you can’t do anything.
You’re basically held hostage by your hands. I mean, you can scratch your head,
but you can’t like, take off a coke. You can’t take anything off the craft
service table. Using the bathroom was a huge challenge. I got very, very close
to my wardrobe people and I tried not to drink water all day. It was really
difficult.

 

Q: I didn’t really need to think about that.

KH: [laughs] Sorry.

 

Q: I’m just glad there wasn’t a love scene because you could scratch something.

KH: Right [laughs].

 

Q: Were you ever able to cut loose with Wolverine star Hugh Jackman or was
every bit of the fight scenes filmed in short, sectional pieces where you can’t
really see the bigger picture?

KH: Yeah, you know when you shoot a fight scene like that, especially when
you’re working with wires, you have to shoot little pieces at a time, because
every move is wired differently. It has to be lit differently and shot
differently. It takes weeks to come up with the little fight scene that we have.
I don’t know exactly how many minutes it is on camera.

But, yeah, there is no master shot. You just can’t. You’re flying through the
air through half of it. You can’t do a master going, “OK. At this part:
this is where she flies and she lands here.” It wouldn’t work. So you do
have to take little bits and pieces.

The way the choreographer and director of this fight did it was just genius
though. He put it all together, on his computer, with the stunt doubles. So, we
kind of had an idea of what it was gonna look like because he showed us, sort
of, sloppily edited together on his computer. So we knew each piece that we were
doing. We could see it as we were doing it, with the doubles having done it with
the wires and everything. So it gave us a much better idea of what was coming up
next and the rhythm of the fight.

 

Q: We heard a lot about what came out of that scene to keep it PG-13. Was
there initially a lot of blood in your performance?


KH: We worked with a little bit of blood, but the challenge was…you know,
the fact that they both have regenerative powers; you can’t have the blood and
then not have the blood in the same shot. So a lot of that stuff is CGI. I think
a lot of the parts that they had to take away because of the ratings were the
strikes and maybe the blood in the tanks and things like that. Otherwise we had
little bits of blood on our face and whatnot, but it would all heal if you had
regenerative powers.

 

Q: The wire work looks so cool when you see it on screen, but I’d imagine
it’s not so much fun to get harnessed up and hoisted up. What does it take to
get used to that?

KH: Oh my God. It’s so hard. You think you’re physically fit and you think
you have coordination until you get hoisted up on wires and just hung from
different pick points on your body and you quickly discover what your body
distribution’s like.

You know, I thought that I was very agile and I could probably get my butt
over my head very easily but I didn’t realize how heavy my butt is, how heavy
that part of my body was. 

It’s whole different muscle. A lot of the muscles that you’re working with
when you’re on wires is like internal stuff: using your stomach muscles to hoist
you around. 

It’s not a science either. It’s quite scary sometimes. There’s this one part
where I do this sort of helicopter spin. Basically they just pick point you from
the back of the neck, so you can spin around this wire, and they have one wire
that wraps around your body and they just pull it. So you’re like a top,
spinning in the air. It’s a little bit scary because it’s not a science and it’s
very, very easy to get hurt and get tangled up in the wires. When you’re upside
down especially you don’t know where the wires are and you don’t have an idea of
what direction you’re even in sometimes. So, yeah, it gets really dangerous.

I’ve had a couple of times where I got tangled up in the wires and things
like that. Certainly a lot of bruises from the harness, just being hoisted up in
it. It’s like having a giant wedgie. Basically they make these harnesses as
comfortable as possible, but they have to be hidden under all your clothes, so
they can’t be big. They have to make them as small as possible. So it’s all of
your body weight in this harness. You walk off the set with bruises just from
having the harness on and being hoisted up, much less bruises from actually
being hurt and hit and stuff.

 

Q:  At some point you stop being and actor and start being a technician,
don’t you?

KH: Yes. Very much.

 

Q: It’s as if you’re not acting any more.

KH: Yeah, it’s hard to remember all that choreography, to remember all that
those little details, not to get your hair tangled in the wires, to remember to
do all of this on a very specific point, because you could actually, physically
get hurt. You could lose an arm or something — and act all at the same
time. 

It’s a whole different skill learning to fight, especially when you’ve got
wire work involved.

 

Q: Is your character a nemesis in the Wolverine video game?


KH: I actually had to play that video game for the first time. I never play
video games. I’m so bad at it. I have no manual dexterity. I can kick your head
off but I can’t play a stupid little video game. I suck. 

I actually spent the first whole part of the game, trying to play, and I
thought that I was playing Deathstrike, because it was Wolverine against
Deathstrike. For like the first ten minutes, I was wondering why I couldn’t get
this character to do anything and then he told me, “You’re Wolverine.
You’re playing AGAINST the Deathstrike!”

I thought, “Oh, OK! That makes so much more sense now.” [Laughs]

 

Q: How is that, to see yourself in a video game?

KH: It’s really fun, to have all of these games made and these dolls made
after you…it’s strange, because this will be my second doll because I had the
first one from “Scorpion King.” It’s weird to walk into someone’s
office and seeing your doll doing center splits on top of their computer.
[laughs]

 

Q: Do men get intimidated when they realize you can actually kick their head
off?

KH: That would explain why I can’t get really a date these days. [laughs]

I hope I don’t intimidate guys too much. Women are playing much stronger
characters these days. They’re just gonna have to get used to it.

 

Q: Which of your dolls is the most realistic looking?

KH: You know, I haven’t seen the new doll yet, the “X-Men” doll.
I’m hoping that it looks a lot like me. I know that the “Scorpion
King” doll didn’t look anything like me.

They did actual scans of my head and my body, but then the first thing I did
when I saw the doll — I lifted up her skirt to see and there was this huge
space between her legs and I said, “That’s not anatomically correct!”

And they said, “Well, they had to make her that way and your doll can do
the center splits and in order to do the center splits it has to be built this
way.”

And I said, “Why is it necessary from my doll to do the center splits.
Rock’s doll doesn’t do the center splits.”

Apparently it’s a way cool thing to have a doll that can do that, not a cool
thing when it’s supposed to look like you.

 

Q: What was it like to work with Sir Ian McKellan?

KH: I didn’t actually get to work a lot with Ian McKellan. He and my
character don’t really meet up at any point in the film. But I did get to be on
set with him when he was working and hung out with him a lot off screen. He’s
awesome. He was like the guy who was always through the parties and the dinners
and stuff. 

That was one of my biggest fears, coming into this film, was walking into
this group of people who already had this history, and worked together, and this
rapport and then being sort of like the new kid on the block. I thought I was
gonna be eating lunch by myself and all this stuff. But they were so
awesome. 

Ian would invite me to the parties right away. I got to know these people and
I felt very included. So yeah, I was a bit nervous about them at first and
having to stand up to these amazing actors and hold my own. They just made me
feel so comfortable. It was so much easier than I thought it would be.

 

Q: What about stepping into this world with this huge, vocal fan base. Have
you had fan encounters?


KH: I actually got invited to Comic-Con while we were shooting this. It was
such an amazing experience. I had no idea how big this comic book world is I
grew up with comics like “Archie” and “Richie Rich.” I
didn’t even know that the “X-Men” comics existed until the first movie
came out. I didn’t actually see an “X-Men” comic until I started
researching my character for this film.

So when I went to this convention it was really an eye-opener. There were
like fifty thousand comic book fans walking around in like costumes and what
not. They knew so many details about this comic book world.  It was phenomenal.

I, at that point, had just started shooting. I wasn’t allowed to give out
anything about my character. I wasn’t allowed to say who I was playing or what
my special powers were or whether I was a mutant or not, or what my relationships
were, or anything about the story at all. 

It was kept so secret that walking into this comic book world of fifty
thousand people was like being bombarded. It was like a sheep walking into like
fifty thousand wolves. 

They picked up on the tiniest details. I was like, “I can’t tell you
anything. I can’t tell you anything. That’s a secret. That’s a secret!”

Then one of these guys noticed I had silver finger nail polish on and he
goes, “does that have anything to do with your character?”

I mean it was just amazing. These guys picked up on the tiniest little
details. If I batted my eye wrong when I was telling them something, they would
pick up on it and it would be on the Internet the next day. 

 

Q: Did experiencing Comic-Con change the way you felt about the
responsibility towards the fans?

KH: Very much so. The comic book fans, especially “X-Men” fans are
so serious about their comic book. I was really worried about it. I was worried
about how it was going be received, how my character was going to be received,
but Bryan is such an amazing director. 

Bryan Singer is so amazingly talented. He was able to put together a trailer
for Comic-Con, giving them a sneak peek of our film, with just four weeks of
shooting. None of it had any special effects. There was none of that…no
exploding or any of that action stuff. It was just all the story of what we had
shot in four weeks. 

He had managed to put this together and it was so well received. People were
standing up and cheering. They asked to see the trailer again. After having seen
that response I felt so much better and felt like I was really in good hands.

 

Q: Isn’t it a little weird that they’re that passionate about it?

KH: It’s weird, I guess, to some people to be so into this world that doesn’t
really exist, but I think it’s a great way to focus your energy. It’s something
that’s very positive. There’s no negative repercussions. It’s not like getting
into drugs or something. If kids are going to get into these comic books and
spend all of their time researching these characters, let them. It’s so much
better than getting into all this other mischief that they could possible get in
trouble with and get themselves into.

 

Q: Did you have any temptation to go out for Halloween in your costume?


KH: I was actually thinking it would be funny to dress up as Lady Deathstrike
for Halloween, but no one would know who I was yet. I actually wanted to be
Wolverine. They dressed up Hugh’s son as Wolverine for Halloween and he came
trick or treating. Then there was another day when they dressed up his sister,
who was visiting on set, as Wolverine.

Now, that I’ve sort of existed in this comic book realm, it’s hard to dress
up as anyone else for Halloween. I used to be Pocahontas every year. That’s kind
of dull now.

 

Q: Who gets credit for the whole knuckle-cracking thing? Did you have a
prosthesis?

KH: I really do crack my knuckles a lot in life. That’s why I have hands like
an eighty-five-year-old woman. But it was all special effects, all of this
stuff. The effects department in this film had really done their work. They
really earned their money. It came out so quickly. From the moment we stopped
shooting until now, hasn’t even been a year and there were so many different
effects to put in this film, I’m amazed that this film has come out on time.