“Kids are going to dress up like me for Halloween"
In July, the Chinese Canadian actor was announced to take on the lead role in Shang-Chi after it was reported that Marvel was looking for a Chinese-only actor to take on the role of Shang-Chi.
Discussing representation, Liu told Inkstone that whilst representation is important, incorrect representation can have a damaging effect on its audience.
“I realized that representation is not just the ability to see yourself reflected on screen, but to see what you can be. So if I see Asians portrayed as losers and nerds, at least on a subconscious level, that’s all I believe I can be,” he said.
Liu initially drew inspiration from caucasian actors who had more freedom in Hollywood.
“Starting out, I wanted to be an American leading man,” he says. “I wanted to be Tom Cruise. I wanted to be Matt Damon. And it’s funny, Tom Cruise has done plenty of action movies, Matt Damon has done Bourne, but they were never pigeonholed,” Liu said.
“I’ve done one family crime drama and then a family sitcom and now I’m doing an action film and I’m likely going to follow that up with something completely unrelated.”
Moving on to Shang-Chi, Liu said preparation for the role has been challenging.
“I am training very hard, believe me. I have our stunt coordinator, Brad Allan, a phenomenal martial artist who trained under Jackie Chan, and he’s assembled a wonderful team around me,” the 30-year-old actor said.
“I was at my costume fitting yesterday. It was … weird. They take you to a place and they infrared-scan your body and 3D-print you, life-size, so they can fit clothes. There was a 3D-printed me, Awkwafina and Tony Leung. It’s crazy,” he continued.
Liu went on to say he condemns Hollywood’s racist depictions of Asians on screen.
“They’ve certainly been burned before,” he said. “They’re just being rightfully defensive of who they are. They feel like there’s a potential for Hollywood to really eff this up, and maybe it would be easy for me to be like, ‘Well, eff them, what do they know?’”
“But then, I mean, when I look at the leading men in Asia, I agree with them. I don’t look like them. But that’s OK. I look forward to showing them something new, that leading men come in different shapes and sizes.”
Nonetheless, Liu sees the times changing and values his responsibility to positively represent the Asian community.
“To take a quote from Stan Lee, the legend himself, ‘With great power there must also come great responsibility.’ But I think the reason I have the platform I do is because I’ve leaned into my Asianness,” he said.
“If you are going to ask an entire population to support you, to rally behind you and give you a platform, I won’t shy away from that responsibility. I feel like we’ve been shying away from it as people for too long, especially the children of immigrants who are taught to keep their heads down. We have reached the limit of that philosophy.”
“I really think this movie could change the world,” Liu concluded.
In other news, Liu recently paid tribute to Taiwanese Canadian actor Godfrey Gao who died at the age of 35.