New Delhi: As a fan of classic Marvel characters Iron Man and Deadpool, Hong Kong star Tony Leung says starring in a superhero movie was something that he always wanted to do and he found the right project in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
Leung needs no introduction as he is immensely popular for his many collaborations with filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai that gave the world cinematic gems such as “Chungking Express”, “Happy Together”, “In the Mood for Love” and “2046.”
The 59-year-old actor said he has seen films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and always wanted to work in one of them.
“I watch a lot of Marvel movies, and I have my favourite characters too. Deadpool and Iron Man are my favourite characters. I didn’t expect that I would have a chance to be a member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” Leung said in a transcript shared with PTI by Marvel Studios.
“Shang-Chi”, which was released in India on Friday, is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and features Chinese-Canadian star Simu Liu as Marvel’s first Asian superhero.
Set after the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame (2019)‘, the movie follows Shang-Chi who is drawn into the clandestine Ten Rings organisation and is forced to confront the past he thought he left behind.
It was Cretton who persuaded Leung to come aboard the film and the actor said he felt he could trust the director.
“I had a phone meeting with him and, of course, he couldn’t tell me much about the story at that time, so I had only little hints about my character and the story. But I felt very good talking to him, and I thought I could trust him,” he added.
On the film’s set in Sydney, Australia, Leung said that the filmmaker made him feel very relaxed and worry-free.
“He used to encourage me a lot after a take. He would say that my performance was perfect, or so good. It really made me build up a lot of confidence, especially at the beginning of shooting.
“Sometimes he would give me some adjustments, but I liked that very much as well. It was really nice working with him,” he added.
Leung plays the role of Xu Wenwu, Shang-Chi’s estranged father who heads the Ten Rings organisation.
The actor said that he initially thought that he would be done working on the movie in a couple of weeks.
“I didn’t expect I would have that much to do in the movie until I read the script. I thought they would only need me for two or three weeks because of what Destin had told me.
“Wenwu is not a superhero. He is just a villain. That was fine with me, but I ended up spending six months in Sydney,” he added.
Wenwu is an original character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the studio decided to update the character of Shang-Chi’s father, who is stereotypically called Fu Manchu in the Marvel comics.
Leung said he found Wenwu to be quite a tragic character even though he is powerful with the Ten Rings.
“He was lonely all his life until he met his wife, and I think that was the happiest time in his life. After he lost her, he was tortured by his own guilt and living in pain. So, he’s quite a tragic character,” he added.
The actor also revealed that he had no discussions with Cretton regarding his performance as he wanted to surprise everyone.
“I think the script does a very good job on my character, very detailed, so I just needed to follow the pages. I would prefer to surprise or convince our director with my performance on stage rather than discuss too much beforehand. So, we didn’t discuss a lot before shooting,” he said.
Leung further said that he liked the drama part of the movie the most.
“I always enjoy the drama part, because the action part can be a bit tiring. But I enjoy working with the crew so much. This is my first time working with an American crew, and I love the work atmosphere. Everyone is very professional, and they are very nice.”
The actor was aware that “Shang-Chi” marks an important chapter in MCU and he said that he received a lot of messages from his fans in Asia before he started working on the project.
“Before I came to Sydney, a lot of friends from different countries in Asia sent me messages and said they can’t wait for this movie. I think it’s because they will have something they can relate to,” he added.
Leung also said that he had a great time working with Liu as well as Chinese star Michelle Yeoh.
“Liu is very nice, and it’s a pleasure working with this young, talented actor. He’s very professional, full of passion, and makes me feel energised on set too.
“I hadn’t seen Yeog for quite a while, so it was very good to work with her. We liked to get together after work and visit,” the actor said.
As for Hollywood star Awkwafina, who plays Katy in the movie, Leung said he liked her performance in “Crazy Rich Asians”.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” also stars Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu and Benedict Wong.
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