Bad Girl: Jaime King talks about 'Bulletproof Monk'

At the ripe age of 23, JaimeKing is on her second career. She started modeling under the name James King inher teens and before long found herself on the covers of major fashionmagazines. Two years ago she made her debut on the big screen with bit parts inmovies like "Happy Campers" and "Blow." Next week her careerwill take another turn when she plays the lead female role in "BulletproofMonk" opposite Seann WilliamScott and ChowYun-Fat.

MGM Studios has provided CBR readers with this Q & A session with King about the movie.

Q: Tell us what is going on here.

KING: Right now we're doing my first fight scene, the scene where I meet Karfor the first time. We do a dramatic fight, so they are back there right nowwith the stunt doubles working out the choreography.

Q: You're going to be fighting?

KING: Yeah, Seann and I have been training since November. We will also be onthe wires doing moves.

Q: What was the training like?

KING: It was great -- 6 to 7 hours a day of gymnastics and kung fu andmartial arts with kicks and all kinds of different styles. Then we came up hereand had rehearsal time on the wires.

Q: Have you done anything like this before?

KING: That's one of the reasons I really wanted to do this role. It's sophysical, and the idea of acting and doing all the physical stuff reallyappealed to me. I'm pretty athletic and I feel like it's a cool thing toincorporate something like this into your craft.

Q: Is it really fun?

KING: Some of it can be really challenging, but the human body is amazing -how resilient it is and how far you can push it and how far you can really go.Who doesn't want to be in the air on wires flying around?

Q: What was the hardest part about the training?

KING: I would say the most challenging part about training is just gettingcertain moves integrated into your body. Sometimes I would do a kick over andover and think, "Oh my God, I can't get this kick right," and then,after a couple of days, all of a sudden I could do it. It clicks and your wholebody gets it.

Q: I heard you had to learn to speak Tibetan.

KING: I did. There's a scene in the movie when I first meet Chow Yun-Fat andSeann William Scott (the Monk and Kar), and I start speaking in Tibetan withChow Yun-Fat's character about Kar. Kar is pretending he knows what we'retalking about, but he has no clue at all.

Q: Were you speaking actual Tibetan. How do you learn that?

KING: You get a dialect coach and go through every single part of it.Practice makes perfect.

Q: What is your look for this film?

KING: It's sort of renegade. These are street kids, this is their hangout,and their dress is about being able to camouflage and be a part of theirenvironment. They need clothes they can move and fight in. The costume designeris really amazing. We went through so many looks before we decided what Bad Girlshould look like. Then, on the other hand, there's Jade - I play a dualcharacter, and she dresses completely differently. The contrast is reallyincredible.

Q: Why is she called Bad Girl?

KING: When Kar first sees her, he eyes her when he is about to get his buttkicked by my gang members. He turns around and is like, "Bad Girl." Helooks at me and he calls me out. That's how I am dubbed.

Q: He's in a precarious situation…

KING: Kar is in a precarious position because he has started to pick pocketson our turf, and our gang leader, Fuktastic, is getting ready to beat the crapout of him. After his failed attempts to try to get out of it, he comes to melike, "Hey, do you think this is a fair fight? Can you help me outhere?" and I'm like, "I'm sorry, I can't help you out."

Q: That's when you first meet each other. Then, quite a relationshipdevelops.

KING: By the end of that scene, I essentially help get him out of thesituation. We have a very resistant relationship. He awakened something in meand I awaken something in him. We both grow up at the same time, and it's thisbattle of not wanting to really discover or feel the emotions that we're feelingwhen we're around each other.

Q: There is some chemistry, do sparks fly?

KING: There's definitely chemistry. It's all emotion in our interactions andexchanges.

Q: You said it's like a conflict for you…

KING: Yeah, because I don't know this kid. I don't know where he comes from.All I know is that there is a connection between us. I'm afraid that peoplearen't going to love me for who I am, so I run around with this gang pretendingto be this bad chic. Then, I meet this kid who all of a sudden I'm falling forand I don't understand why. Then, the Monk awakens Kar to his own enlightenment,and it becomes a triangle where we are all awakening each other.

Q: What is it like working with Seann?

KING: It's really great. He's so awesome and fun. I first met him at thescreen test and we got along. Now, we have a really great relationship becausewe've had all this rehearsal time. It's great to know how you're going tointeract and how you work with someone.

Q: Have you had a chance to work with Yun-Fat yet?

KING: We have rehearsals and things. He's so gracious and cool. The way hecarries himself is amazing. He is a really, really kind, gentle person.

Q: How would you describe the style of this film? Very cool looking…

KING: It's very dramatic and very dark and very quick -- like a cross between"Indiana Jones" and "Flight Club." It's going to be different from any other moviethat you've ever seen. We're all from such different places. There are so manydifferent things going on at once to create this wonderful film. I've never seenanything shot the way these things are shot.

Q: Are you having a good time?

KING: I'm having a great time, it's really fun.

Q: How were you approached to play this role?

KING: I specifically remember the moment that I read the script and themoment I knew I wanted to do this film. I was lying in bed and as I was readingit, I could visualize myself in the part. I made the choice. I said I'm going toget this role no matter what. I don't care what I have to do, I'm going to be inthis film. I remember telling my agent this, too. I auditioned five times anddid a screen test and a physical test. It was really a cool process because Igot to work with Paul and the casting director and play it in different ways. Itmade receiving the role so much more incredible for me because I worked so hardto get it.

Q: What was it that made you say I have to have this role?

KING: There was something that resonated true to me. I knew that there wassomething within me that authentically could understand where she was comingfrom on a lot of different levels. You have to relate to the character in someway. I also felt like the script had a lot to say, a lot to say in a way thathasn't been said before.

Q: You said you read it and you were determined.

KING: I was going to do whatever it took to get that role. I just know I wasmeant to play it and that I could put so much love behind the role. It wasreally great to go in there and prove myself.

Q: Tell us about Jade.

KING: Essentially, Jade is looking for purpose and meaning in her life. Shehas an innate desire to help people. She has a true interest in the world andthe things around her, but I don't think she necessarily knows what that isabout. It's something she is awakening to and discovering. She wants somethingto love and take care of, but she is very protective of herself because shedoesn't know what she is worth. She finds it with her gang members, her attitudeand toughness and fighting. Then, when she meets Kar and the Monk, she can'tdeny that she is good and that she is here to help save the world. When shechooses to save the scroll and to protect the Monk, she has found her soul'spurpose. She will sacrifice anything for that. It's an incredible journey for meto be a part of that and to awaken those things within myself. I think everybodyis looking for purpose so it's really cool to play a character that finds it.

Q: Does she show a hint of vulnerability? What's her relationship with Karlike?

KING: He is the first one who sees through the fighting. We all have peoplelike that in our lives, who can see through us. At some point, we allowourselves to be revealed to them and that's an incredible thing. I think that ittakes a lot for someone to say, "I see through you, I know what you'reabout." Kar is always doing that. He doesn't allow her to run the usualthings on him that she does on other people. He just calls her out on it.Eventually she gives up. I think that she feels safe to do so.

Q: She understands he is one of those people.

KING: They battle each other, but then they realize they are both looking fora purpose in their lives. I think that they come together because they havesomething to save and protect. That's a huge responsibility to share withsomeone.

Q: What has your experience been like on the set, is it what you expected?

KING: No, it's not. It changes all the time. I'm learning something neweveryday. I've never done so much action and acting at the same time. It's acompletely different experience. It's tough, but at the end of the day I feel sofulfilled. We're putting so much energy into it. We've trained for so long andas we come to the completion of this project I know that everyday it just keepsgetting better.

Q: You haven't had to be as physical before?

KING: No, not like this wire work and kung fu, fighting and punching andkicking. It's amazing how focused and really present you need to be. It's justawesome. It's unlike any other movie I've ever done before.

Q: Talk about training… wire work …

KING: Seann and I both started training in early December in Los Angeles.Then we came up here a couple of months early and trained everyday 5 to 6 hoursa day doing kung fu, Hong Kong Street fighting, tai kwon do, and wire work. Theidea of being paid to learn how to do kung fu and to act and learn fromincredible actors and great producers and this visually amazing director - itwas something I really wanted to try and that I knew I could do. I mean, yourbody also looks incredible after all that training. [laughs]

Q: Was it something that you took to right away?

KING: You have to memorize the techniques and the forms and integrate yourconsciousness and your body at the same time so that it becomes fluid.Sometimes, getting your head wrapped around these moves can be reallyoverwhelming. When you're enthusiastic as an actor and you want to get it downso perfect and then you don't you're so frustrated! You have to remind yourselfthat you do the best you can. We've got really great people teaching us andthat's been another incredible blessing. The people I'm learning from are justso awesome.

Q: What makes them special?

KING: Their experience, patience, support. They have been with us from thevery beginning and it feels so good. The other day I did a really awesome wirekick and it felt so good to have my fight team around me, the people that havebeen teaching me from the very beginning, rooting me on. I kept thinking tomyself, "I have been training for 4 1/2 months for this and I'm going to doa great job and I can pull this last one out of me." It was an amazingfeeling to come that far.

Q: Talk about your relationship with Seann professionally and personally.

KING: We don't get to spend that much time with each other because we areworking so much, but we have a great time. It's really easygoing and freeflowing. We have fun together and goof around and we both have a strong passionfor this movie. It's funny because every time we want to do something, we have abig scene the next day, or have been working every day, even our days off. Seannis really an inspiration, you know. He works really hard. It's so wonderful towork with people who are that enthusiastic about their jobs. Seann is definitelyenthusiastic about what he is doing, so it's been really cool to watch that.

Q: Were you excited when you heard Chow Yun-Fat would be in the film?

KING: Oh yes, I was really excited. He encompasses an incredible amount ofgrace. He's so funny. I'm learning so much from the way he handles people andhimself on set. Also, he is really efficient with time. He comes and he standson his mark, he is there for the camera guys, he is there for the rehearsals, heis very crisp and clean and clear about what he's doing, he gets his thingsdone. He is very purposeful with his energy and his time on set. There is a goodenergy because he has a lot of gratitude. He is really easygoing, andlighthearted. He doesn't take anything too seriously and he's joking around alot and I think it's nice to have light energy like that on the set. It reallyfrees things.

Q: What is your experience working with Paul?

KING: He knows what he wants visually, but it's still so much magic. He'slike a little kid when he gets amped or excited about something. It's been agreat process to work with him and to learn what he is looking for and how hesees things. He's really ahead of his time. I think that what he is creating isgoing to be completely different than anything we have ever seen. I know headmires David Fincher and Tim Burton, but he is melding everything together. Isee him really work hard on each shot. Visually, it's so rich. One of thespecial things about this film is that it's fantasy, but there's truth. They'recreating scenes that really make you want to jump into the screen. It makes youwant to drip with life and newness and anticipation because there's promise ofsomething greater out there. Paul has an incredible ability to capture theurgency behind the story.

Q: Does he help you develop your character?

KING: The story evolves and as we evolve throughout the film. Jade evolves aswell. Our process has just been constantly talking about that and building onthat and keeping communication open.

Q: Do you think this film is going to have a wide appeal across countries?

KING: There are so many different things in Bulletproof Monk that differentpeople can relate to, whoever they are. And who doesn't want to see someone savethe world?

Q: Any thoughts looking back… what stands out as memorable?

KING: This has been such an incredible journey of personal experience. We'vebeen filming for six months and it's amazing to see how the characters haveevolved. I just did my big fight scene over the past three days and that was anincredible experience. It just gets better and better each time. I think we havetwo weeks left, but it still feels like I could go back and do it all again.

Q: Talk about this Nina fight… what was going on there?

KING: It was some serious cat fighting. I got my first official injury onset. Nina whips out her baton and goes to hit me with it and actually impaled myeye. Three days, 15-hour-long days, fighting, wire work, being thrown into wallsand punching each other and kicking and shoving and hair pulling. It's prettyfun.

Q: You seem so resilient. What is the secret of being able to bounce back?

KING: When you really love what you're doing, you want to do it the mostexcellent way that you can. Also, after six months of training, you become usedto focusing that much and putting all that energy into it. Then you start seeinghow good it is and how good it can be. Then you just get really excited and yourenthusiasm just takes you all the way through.

Q: What was it like doing the fight scene on the wire?

KING: I don't think I've ever seen anything like it for women, which isreally cool. We're like, "We're going to make this the best women's fightscene you have ever seen in your entire life." I get to run up the wall acouple of times, then jump off the wall, doing back-spinning kicks. You nevergrow up thinking you're going to do something like that and then all of a suddenthere you are doing it, and it's incredible.

Q: This is stuff audiences haven't necessarily seen before.

KING: Because we're mixing so many influences, it's an incredible combinationof all these different styles. I haven't seen anything like it, and that's how Ifeel about this film in general. It's Eastern and spiritual and then Western -it's pretty amazing.

Q: What stands out in your mind that you are most proud of?

KING: Getting through three 15-hour-long days of just fighting. There aretimes on the wires when I would be so exhausted and then all of a sudden I wouldlook around and see the fight team and the director and the other actors and I'minspired. All this energy comes rushing, and I get it right and it's the bestfeeling when it comes together perfectly and it's going to be immortalized oncelluloid.

Q: Is there a favorite thing you learned…

KING: The wire work. I'm pretty good at it and it's so much fun, like flying.

Q: And you must look back . . .

KING: I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. As it's winding down, I havegreater clarity on how much work and how much fun I have had. I am proud of allthe work that we've done, so I'm starting to get really nostalgic andsentimental.

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