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Nine Inch Nails: Kelly Hu talks 'X2'

She can kick your head off, she's not afraid of X-Fans and she's on her secondaction 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 mutantmovie. Comics2Film/CBR News is pleased to provide readers with an editedtranscript of that conversation.

Warning: This transcript contains spoilers.

 

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

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 peoplein Hollywood. People in this industry have been very vocal about being againstthe war. Growing up in a military family, my dad was also in the military. Hedidn't make a career out of it the way my brother did, but I also have uncleswho did, and whatnot. I guess it gives me a different perspective on going inand 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 wouldbe his duty to fight for his country and I think he would do it very proudly, asI'm sure that all of these other men who have gone abroad to fight do. Iwouldn't want him to be in that situation, where he gets shipped off andpossibly has to put his life on the line. However, I understand the importanceof 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 tolook very martial artsy, per se. They didn't want it to come out looking like aJackie Chan film or anything. The choreographer was very, very adamant aboutmaking it look like these two vicious mutant fighters, rather than somethingthat was choreographed like martial arts.

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

I think though that they were able to come up with some great choreographyand great ways to actually execute it, and I'm so incredibly thrilled with thefinal 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 andhow hard was it to deal with those things?

KH: They actually took molds of my hands and fitted each claw to thefingertip of my hand. I grew out my fingernails and they were able to crazy gluethem onto the bottom of my fingernails. These pieces that they were able toshape are just beautiful works of art, really. If you look at them closelythey're really beautiful. They made it out of a very pliable plastic, so theywere very light and easy to work with and they wouldn't actually hurt anyone ifI really managed to hit someone, namely myself. They were able to make themlight 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 throughhim and things where it was jus too dangerous to have them in, or just notpractical, because you can't show my claws going through his body if I can't getclose 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 doingsome things without and I watched the film to see if I could tell thedifference, and you can't. You can't even tell the difference between the realclaws and the fake ones. It's amazing. 

 

Q: When you're filming and you've got the claws on and then you take a breakand 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-inchnails, 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 craftservice table. Using the bathroom was a huge challenge. I got very, very closeto my wardrobe people and I tried not to drink water all day. It was reallydifficult.

 

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 wasevery bit of the fight scenes filmed in short, sectional pieces where you can'treally see the bigger picture?

KH: Yeah, you know when you shoot a fight scene like that, especially whenyou're working with wires, you have to shoot little pieces at a time, becauseevery move is wired differently. It has to be lit differently and shotdifferently. 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 theair 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 dohave to take little bits and pieces.

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

 

Q: We heard a lot about what came out of that scene to keep it PG-13. Wasthere 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 andthen not have the blood in the same shot. So a lot of that stuff is CGI. I thinka lot of the parts that they had to take away because of the ratings were thestrikes and maybe the blood in the tanks and things like that. Otherwise we hadlittle bits of blood on our face and whatnot, but it would all heal if you hadregenerative powers.

 

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

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

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

It's whole different muscle. A lot of the muscles that you're working withwhen you're on wires is like internal stuff: using your stomach muscles to hoistyou around. 

It's not a science either. It's quite scary sometimes. There's this one partwhere I do this sort of helicopter spin. Basically they just pick point you fromthe back of the neck, so you can spin around this wire, and they have one wirethat 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'svery, very easy to get hurt and get tangled up in the wires. When you're upsidedown especially you don't know where the wires are and you don't have an idea ofwhat 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 thingslike that. Certainly a lot of bruises from the harness, just being hoisted up init. It's like having a giant wedgie. Basically they make these harnesses ascomfortable as possible, but they have to be hidden under all your clothes, sothey can't be big. They have to make them as small as possible. So it's all ofyour body weight in this harness. You walk off the set with bruises just fromhaving the harness on and being hoisted up, much less bruises from actuallybeing 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 thatthose little details, not to get your hair tangled in the wires, to remember todo all of this on a very specific point, because you could actually, physicallyget hurt. You could lose an arm or something -- and act all at the sametime. 

It's a whole different skill learning to fight, especially when you've gotwire 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 playvideo games. I'm so bad at it. I have no manual dexterity. I can kick your headoff 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 Ithought that I was playing Deathstrike, because it was Wolverine againstDeathstrike. For like the first ten minutes, I was wondering why I couldn't getthis 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 madeafter you...it's strange, because this will be my second doll because I had thefirst one from "Scorpion King." It's weird to walk into someone'soffice 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 headoff?

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 strongercharacters 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 "ScorpionKing" doll didn't look anything like me.

They did actual scans of my head and my body, but then the first thing I didwhen I saw the doll -- I lifted up her skirt to see and there was this hugespace 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 dothe center splits and in order to do the center splits it has to be built thisway."

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 coolthing 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 mycharacter don't really meet up at any point in the film. But I did get to be onset with him when he was working and hung out with him a lot off screen. He'sawesome. He was like the guy who was always through the parties and the dinnersand stuff. 

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

Ian would invite me to the parties right away. I got to know these people andI felt very included. So yeah, I was a bit nervous about them at first andhaving to stand up to these amazing actors and hold my own. They just made mefeel 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. Haveyou had fan encounters?

KH: I actually got invited to Comic-Con while we were shooting this. It wassuch an amazing experience. I had no idea how big this comic book world is Igrew up with comics like "Archie" and "Richie Rich." Ididn't even know that the "X-Men" comics existed until the first moviecame out. I didn't actually see an "X-Men" comic until I startedresearching my character for this film.

So when I went to this convention it was really an eye-opener. There werelike fifty thousand comic book fans walking around in like costumes and whatnot. 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 outanything about my character. I wasn't allowed to say who I was playing or whatmy special powers were or whether I was a mutant or not, or what my relationshipswere, or anything about the story at all. 

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

They picked up on the tiniest details. I was like, "I can't tell youanything. 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 hegoes, "does that have anything to do with your character?"

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

 

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

KH: Very much so. The comic book fans, especially "X-Men" fans areso serious about their comic book. I was really worried about it. I was worriedabout 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 trailerfor Comic-Con, giving them a sneak peek of our film, with just four weeks ofshooting. None of it had any special effects. There was none of that...noexploding or any of that action stuff. It was just all the story of what we hadshot in four weeks. 

He had managed to put this together and it was so well received. People werestanding up and cheering. They asked to see the trailer again. After having seenthat 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'treally exist, but I think it's a great way to focus your energy. It's somethingthat's very positive. There's no negative repercussions. It's not like gettinginto drugs or something. If kids are going to get into these comic books andspend all of their time researching these characters, let them. It's so muchbetter than getting into all this other mischief that they could possible get introuble 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 Deathstrikefor Halloween, but no one would know who I was yet. I actually wanted to beWolverine. They dressed up Hugh's son as Wolverine for Halloween and he cametrick 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 dressup as anyone else for Halloween. I used to be Pocahontas every year. That's kindof dull now.

 

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

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

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