Celina Jade is no stranger to action projects – be it on television or film. In an exclusive interview, she talks to our own Mike Leeder about her recent and upcoming projects, including ‘Wolf Warrior 2‘…
From Arrow through Blue Bloods, Man with the Iron Fists and Legendary Assassin, the video game Sleeping Dogs through Skin Trade with Tony Jaa to unleashing Kung Fu alongside Sebastien Vettel, Celina Jade is a quadruple threat, actress, singer/songwriter, model and martial artist. The daughter of American Kung Fu movie star Roy Horan (the Russian priest from Snake in the Eagles Shadow and Game of Death 2) will soon be back on the big screen alongside Wushu-maestro Wu Jing and Kingdom‘s Frank Grillo in what looks to be one of the biggest Chinese movies of the coming year, Wolf Warrior 2.
Impact‘s Mike Leeder caught up with Celina for the following chat about the project and what’s to come…
Impact: Your made quite the debut alongside Wu Jing in Legendary Assassin. And your latest project Wolf Warrior 2 has you working with him once again. How did it feel to be reunited with him on such a big project?
Celina Jade: It’s strange but I hadn’t really seen Wu Jing for about seven years since we finished up all the promo for Legendary Assassin etc, we would talk occasionally but we hadn’t really seen each other for a long time. We’d both been doing various projects and been in different places. It just so happened we were both going to be in Beijing at the same time, so I reached out to him and we caught up. It was great to see him, he’s still the same really nice guy but he’s also more mature now, he’s married with a baby, he’s all grown up now! We caught up and had a great time, just chatting about what we’d been doing since we’d worked together, talking about the directions our careers have taken us in, our families etc. It was really nice to catch up after so long. We didn’t really talk about working together on any specific projects, I think we were both just really happy to reconnect after so long.
A few months passed and I was in Italy, when he messaged me and started asking me about my availability but he didn’t really give me much information. I got back to Hong Kong, he called me up and told me he wanted me to play the female lead in Wolf Warrior 2 (the sequel to his smash hit Wolf Warrior with Scott Adkins), and that they were already shooting. He asked I could fly out immediately to start work on the film.
Impact: How did you feel when he asked you if you could step on board as the female lead of the project?
CJ: I had always felt bad that I hadn’t been able to work with Wu Jing on the first Wolf Warrior, he had originally contacted me about working on that film but I was committed to Arrow at the time, and we couldn’t make schedules work. He ended up changing the character he wanted me to play to a guy’s role instead. It is Wu Jing that gave me my first break in acting and I owe him my career in some ways so I was more than happy to work for him again especially on such a dear project to him! Now I’d literally just got back from Italy so when he asked me to fly that evening, I said I had to consult with my Mum as she was sick at the time. I went home to see my family and ask my Mum what she thought, she was very excited for me, she’s Chinese and always wanted me to do a big Chinese movie and reconnect with my Chinese roots so she gave me her blessings.
So I called Wu Jing back and told him the good news, but I couldn’t fly that evening, I would fly the next morning. I told him about my concerns about my mom being sick and said I had one condition only… and that was that if I was going to have more than 2 days of between shooting days that I would be able to fly back to Hong Kong to see my mother and he agreed to that, after all, Beijing – Hong Kong is a short flight. My Manager Andrew Ooi was away in Cuba at the time, so I had to go ahead and just run with it. I told Wu Jing that I knew he would take care of me and that I trusted him with whatever the deal was going to be so I flew out to start shooting the next day.
CJ: My character in the movie Rachel is a doctor working for the United Nations, there’s been an outbreak of an Ebola’like virus in this African country and I am trying to treat people and save them from that. Meanwhile, the country is being torn apart by a civil war that’s been brewing between the Government and Rebel Forces. Everyone is fleeing the country and the people are left in dire straits, Wu Jing’s character and Rachel decide to risk their lives for the people and fight their war.
Impact: I know Wu Jing has upped the ante for action on this movie, will we be seeing you kicking butt and taking names alongside him again?
CJ: Actually in this movie I don’t get to fight, it’s a purely dramatic role for me which is refreshing, as after Legendary Assassin and my role as Shado on Arrow, I think there can be a tendency for people to assume or try to pigeon-hole me as ‘oh she’s a martial arts actress’ only, and while the martial arts are important to me, my father (Roy Horan from Snake in the Eagles Shadow) taught me since I was a child, its great to play a completely different character. When I choose roles, I choose characters that I admire that inspire me, and Rachel, like Shado is one of them.
Impact: How was it to work with Wu Jing again, this time round he’s not only the lead and co-director, this time its very much his project, he’s wearing multiple hats as leading man, director, producer, and driving force behind it?
CJ: Wu Jing is not as temperamental as he used to be, he has become a lot more mellow and mature. I find him very easy to work with. We used to argue all the time on Legendary Assassin because I’m very American in some ways and definitely opinionated, although I think I’ve also mellowed out somewhat since then. It actually worked well for the character in this film, Rachel is a Eurasian and she has that conflict between the Eastern and Western ways of thinking and behaving, she’s more American than Chinese and is a lot like me back then.
It was great to be working with Wu Jing again, he is like a big brother to me and I am so happy to see how far he’s come since the first time we worked together. He’s a hard working man and very determined, he deserves his success! Wolf Warrior 2 is a very big project, it’s an epic war movie and it’s very much his passion project. I mean he’s not only the star but he’s also the Director, one of the Producers, he’s involved in the script, he’s helping fund the movie, he’s got a lot on his plate and he’s a go-getter.
Impact: Legendary Assassin was quite a small scale project compared to this one, I know Wolf Warrior 2 is even bigger than the first film, and that expectations are very high for the sequel.
CJ: It is a very big project, there’s an incredible amount of talent working on this film from both East and West, Wu Jing has his team which includes former Jackie Chan Stunt-Team leader Nicky Li (Bad Blood, Legendary Assassin) and Ah Jick/Jack Wong from Chasing the Dragon and Operation Mekong etc, as well as a really strong Western action team led by Sam Hargrave who was the action director for this movie, he was behind the action for such projects as Captain America: Civil War and the Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay 1 and 2. He brought in a really good action team for this movie, and it was a really good blend of Eastern and Western talent.
Impact: After working so much in the West in recent years, how did it feel to be returning to China and the Hong Kong/China way of doing things? Its still often quite a culture shock to people when compared to the 10-12 hr day of Western movie making.
CJ: It is very different working in China, I’d forgotten how different it can be compared to the West. There are no unions of course, and we work much longer hours, a 12 hour day is an easy day in China, and the crew there work seven days a week! It can be culture shock for western actors and crew when they work in China since it’s a very different way of making movies.
Wolf Warrior 2 is a huge project, the first film did very well, this one is expected to perform much bigger at the box office, the first one was an action movie, this one is an epic! (Laughing) Not because of me! But everything on this movie, the action, the drama, the stakes are higher and I think it will really connect with the Chinese audience. The Producers seem very excited about the project and its potential, the estimations for its success at the box office are very strong and I’m really excited about the opportunity I have been given with this project.
Impact: Now you captivated a lot of people with your role as Shado and later her sister in Arrow, and I think a lot of fans would be very excited by the thought of you coming back. With a number of characters good and bad returning from the grave in various superhero shows, will we be seeing you back in Star City?
CJ: There are no plans for me to return to Arrow at this moment, but of course you never know what can happen in the Comicverse! At the moment I am currently working on building my China presence and reconnecting with the Chinese audience, and plan to be able to work more in China and continue to work in the West too. I like both markets, after all I’m half Chinese and half America. I think there is a lot of great talent on both sides, a lot to be learned and it would be an honor to work in both markets, so lets see how it goes.
Find out more at: www.celinajade.com
Celina Music Video from Legendary Assassin: