One of the things I really miss about editing Giant Robot magazine is assembling the reviews. Did you know that I actually purchased most of the movies that were listed in the TV Party section? I can’t really justify doing that any more, so I was stoked to receive a couple of interesting screeners from WellgoUSA. Back-to-back viewings of Tai Chi Zero and The Assassins doesn’t quite replace double features at the Kuo Hwa–which got me into Asian movies to begin with–but it’s as close as I get these days.
Really stoked about Europa Report, which has been available for streaming in the U.S. and finally hit big screens last week. My friend, Hong Kong-based actor Daniel Wu and I had a short conversation about the indie sci-fi flick, which has been getting press for its slow-burning intensity and sound science, and this is how it went… MW: You told me that you are especially proud of this movie. Why is that? DW: I’ve always wanted to do a sci-fi flick but have never had a chance in Hong Kong or China. And the fact that this is “hard” sci-fi is even better. It was a really interesting film to make. Six of us actors from all over the world being thrown into a space capsule and shot via “on-board cameras” that didn’t move presented a lot of challenges. It was very experimental and after having done 50-something regular narrative films, this was fresh. MW: What attracted you to the role in Europa Report? DW: To play the ship’s commander amongst a group of well-seasoned actors stuck inside a space capsule seemed like it was going to fun. The fact that I was going to spend three months in New York didn’t hurt, either. I literally just came off The Last Supper, where I spent about eight months in rural China, and I was eager to get back to civilization. MW: The thrust of the Comic-Con panel was that the movie’s science is realistic. Did you have to study up on it? DW: Yes, lots. We had three weeks of rehearsal where we got to talk to actual astronauts and experts, and that proved vital to the project. The original script was a bit between hard science and Armageddon type sci-fi. It was through our research that we decided to keep it as real as possible and get rid of the Hollywood shit. We wanted the story to seem not only believable but possible, too, so the facts had to be spot on. Obviously, we did dramatize certain things but we kept it 90 percent real. Also, because my character is from the CNSA (Chinese National Space Administration), I had to do a lot of research on the history of their program and their future plans. MW: What was it like working on an indie sci-fi flick in New York? Must have been very different than your Hong Kong and China gigs… DW: Yeah, totally. A lot more comfortable and great food and culture was always all around us. We were located in a studio in Williamsburg and stayed in Manhattan, so every morning on the way to work we’d see hoodie-wearing hipsters mixed in with hardcore Hasidic Jews near the studio. It was also nice to be close to many useful museums and libraries for convenient access to research materials. MW: Was it odd to act in English? You pretty much learned how to act speaking Chinese. DW: Yes and no. It was incredibly freeing to be able to...Continue reading