"Someone as extraordinary and seemingly invincible as Bruce Lee had to battle a lot of rejection"
The ESPN documentary, which debuted at Sundance earlier this year, focuses on the Asian American icon as an inclusion advocate and family man.
Nguyen presents an alternative look at the martial arts hero “as a vulnerable human being like the rest of us.”
“I hope the film shows that even someone as extraordinary and seemingly invincible as Bruce Lee had to battle a lot of rejection and internal struggles just because of what he looked like and where he came from,” Nguyen told Deadline.
“Even in the face of a racist system, built upon centuries of xenophobic attitudes and demeaning stereotypes, he was determined to change the old narratives and build this new myth of the Asian and Asian American as the hero.”
Nguyen said that representation is even more important during Coronavirus lockdown.
“Nowadays, when many of us are under stay at home orders and unable to see others face to face, the stories and characters we present on TV are even more significant because that’s the ideas of one another we absorb as audiences,” he said.
“This has become our main interaction with the world and so with Be Water, the aim is to not emphasize the ways we are different but try to bridge communities and learn from each other much like Bruce Lee did in his life.”
Be Water is part of ESPN’s 30 For 30 slate and will air on Sunday, June 7th at 9pm ET on ESPN.
Towards the end of last year, Quentin Tarantino found himself in hot water due to his portrayal of Bruce Lee in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.