This is a special treat for our Stuff Asian People Like family. Asian Central recently interviewed actress Bai Ling, who has hundreds of accolades since hitting the mainstream media.
She has been highly controversial in years past, but that hasn’t changed her spirit and yearning for fun, adventure, and most of all, sharing her gifts with the world. We hope you enjoy this interview, which is available as a podcast for the first time as well.
Peter: What is your role in Crank2?
Bai Ling: I just have this, I would say, Fire or Spirit—and no fear in the movie. She [Ria] is basically tagging along with the lead character (Jason’s character) through the movie because they first introduce her as she flies out of a second floor with the whole building blowing up. She just lands on the floor from flight. Then, Jason saves her life, and from that moment on, she says, “I’m yours.” She just follows him everywhere. In the meantime, he’s in a hurry to find his heart, and says, “I don’t need you!” But she says, “You need me, just like Whitney Houston!” Eventually, Jason needs her. She finds everybody for him, and they are basically a funny couple. It’s like a roller coaster ride; fun and entertaining. Remember that it’s only a one and a half hour movie.
Of course, I wish my part was more than what it is, but she’s [Ria] there, and has this spirit that’s funny and extreme. You’ll really enjoy her. While we were shooting, the two young directors wanted my part to be funny (it’s a comedy action). But after reading the script, in the end they told me, “You can say whatever you want to say, do whatever you want to do,” because everything I say makes them laugh so badly. Everything I say doesn’t make any sense, but in my [Ria’s] own world, it seems to make perfect sense.
People ask me, “Bai Ling, where do all these sayings come from?” And I just say, “I don’t know, I was just saying it.” One time, Jason just couldn’t act because of everything [Ria] says. He just kept laughing.
I also did my own stunts: there is a car crash (and I didn’t die). Someone was there holding my legs, and the stunt double was also there. I say, “I will do it myself.” She says, “are you sure,” and I say, “sure.” “You’re Crazy!”
I’m running, and a car has to hit me. Literally, I put all my trust in that one person: if he lifts me up a little bit later, I will be hit by the car. If he drops me lower, my head would be gone. When he dropped me, I was this close to the pavement [raises fingers indicating about 1 inch]. That was scary. I later have this cat fight with Amy Smart’s character. A woman fight is always fun. Fun characters are not something serious but for the young audience—they’ll really enjoy the ride.
Nancy: We’re really looking forward to it. It sounds like you actually had a lot of fun doing the whole movie.
Yeah, just being silly is part of my spirit; like I have a little spirit that is one of the crazy extreme ones, and I don’t even know why she [my character] behaves or says things like that. She’s just really, really free.
Nancy: Our next question is: What did you struggle the most with? Would it be that scene you just talked about?
First of all, I would like to take the word, “struggle,” away because in my life, there are no struggles. Everything’s giving, it’s a gift. Even obstacles, something people do not like to deal with—to me, they’re a gift that leads you to something better; to learn something, to realize something. So, for me, it’s just all a gift (of fun).
In this movie, the role is not written for Asians like “Love Ranch,” coming out with Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci, two Oscar winning actors. It’s totally different because it is an elegant, sexy character. This one [role] is from the street—rough. Both of them are not written for Asian actors. I think I am extremely lucky to have met these artists in both movie, but I think the process of getting things that are not originally written for you is fun and challenging. I think my magic, my help, will help open the door for Asian artists everywhere.
Nancy: That’s Great! Our next question for you is: In three words, can you describe the character of Ria?
Three words… Crazy, Fun, and Hilarious.
Nancy: And how did you like working with Statham (Jason Statham)?
I know him, he works very hard, and he’s a very sincere and dedicated actor. He puts everything [out there]. Also, I think he just looks like a regular guy. People will feel for him, so he reminds all the guys [people] out there that they can relate to him. He’s one of us. He has this very down-to-earth quality, so we worked very well together. In everything we do, especially when we’re together, I’m taking action (because I’m the one that’s crazy). I do all these weird things while he reacts just naturally. We tangle very well in just a crazy way, it’s just silly. How we walk, how we talk: it’s just stupid, but it’s really funny.
Nancy: That’s awesome. How is this sequel different from other sequels? We’ve read that it starts off where Crank 1 left off.
That’s right, but I wouldn’t always follow what’s particularly going on. I think on the train ride, it doesn’t really matter what happens. One incident leads to another: he [Statham] has to get energy. Instead of blood, he has electricity. And he lost his heart because he was fighting the Chinese mob and they took it. Of course, we’re [the audience] involved and the whole journey is just chaotic.
Nancy: We saw the trailer, and it’s just crazy.
It is crazy. It takes crazy to a whole other level—more extreme than the first one. It’s really fun, it’s just fun.
Nancy: We’re definitely going to see it on the 17th.
Peter: One of the great things I heard from the movie notes is “CRANK HIGH VOLTAGE is a story about a guy trying to find his heart,” says director Mark Neveldine, “Isn’t everybody looking for their heart?” What do you have to say about that quote?
I think that the modern world takes your soul away… takes your heart away… takes your life away. It’s a silly movie (kind of crazy), but it’s really telling the truth. Because we’re all busy from working, you don’t live. You don’t smell the scent of the flower, the freshness of nature. You don’t see the sunlight… you don’t see the light that is passing through. They concentrate to tell you that you don’t have a heart, and you’re eventually going to lose it.
People will also try, intentionally or not, to steal your heart. Basically, you don’t have a heart. It’s the way of modern life—I love the movie “Slumdog Millionaire.” It’s a hauntingly beautiful journey with this innocent child and with nature, and poverty of others. There’s so much beauty, entangled with the most celebrated thing, being a “millionaire.” It’s basically a question of the world changing, but do not lose your soul and you will see that there is a beauty to modern life.
When you have no heart, you can not function, and you’re not living.
This has been an Asian Central podcast/interview. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for a special guest interview with Bai Ling about Asian America.
Thanks for reading, Asian Central!
Peter and Nancy,
Asian Central Staff
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