Metal Life Interview With Daniel Wu, Star Of The New AMC Show “Into The Badlands”
“INTO THE BADLANDS” Conference Call with Daniel Wu
“Into the Badlands” Premiered on Sunday, November 15
Diana Marsh: Can you tell us about the location where it was shot?
Yes we shot in New Orleans and you know, a lot of productions go to New Orleans because of the huge tax credit there. You go film in Vancouver or New Orleans but a lot of people shoot in New Orleans and try to make it look like somewhere else. Like for example, to me it Genesis, they made it look like San Francisco.
But we decided to embrace the sort of history and the sort of a potential fabric of the region, to really make that a character in the show, because we felt like it has – there was a vibe there that was kind of dark, that gothic south vibe, you know, with the Spanish mosque and the trees and all that stuff that we felt like could add a lot to the show and then we decided okay, excuse me, but this doesn’t make the story happen here. Make it happen in the south somewhere.
Diana Marsh: Not only including (Sunny) but looking back at all the other characters that you’ve played over the past 20 years, why do you choose the roles that you do?
Why do I choose the roles that I do? Most of them there’s some kind of instinctual attraction. I don’t why but I’m not – because I’m not like this in person but I’m very attractive to do sort of the darker side of the human nature.
So like the roles that I really relish are the ones that I get to play in really dark characters. Maybe that’s because you know I don’t normally act that way in real life but I realized that that is a part of human nature and I kind of want to explore that.
And so I really relish in those roles. But usually its some kind of instinctual attraction with the characters and most importantly because I’ve had a very long career now, is that I have to find something in the character that haven’t played before.
And it could be something interesting to work on for my craft.
Diana Marsh: Do you see any of yourself in your character as (Sunny)?
I always say, where I’m at now in my life is where i think (Sunny) is trying to get to. And so that’s what attracted to the role is because I saw that kind of – that similarity that (Sunny) is going for a place that I know about.
I think I’m in the state of my life where I think in the past couple of years, a lot has happened to me. I turned 40; I got married, got a kid and my mother passed away. I experienced life and death within one year.
The enjoyment of creating life and the loss within one year. And then also my career is starting to blossom. And so, it has been for a while but I’m just trying to get a name here in the United States and so, the state of mind of where I am right now is very like a calm, peaceful state which is different than the path before I felt like I was struggling a battle – or fighting a battle uphill or pushing up hill to become better, to do this or to do that.
But kind of know I feel really comfortable with myself in my own skin now and I think that’s where (Sunny) is trying to get to, is you trying to find who he really is. And I think that’s what I really am finally at 40.
(Diane Marsh): Great, awesome perfect Daniel thank you so much. I wish you nothing but success with this endeavor.
(other conference call participant): Hi. As a public figure, do you feel a pressure to look a certain way in this industry and if so, how do you deal with it?
Not really, because I’ve never had any kind of like issues with light body or how I look or whatever like that. I think because on my own, I love to train, I love to work on martial arts; I love to do any kind of sport activity.
So I’ve been – luckily I’ve been in good shape this whole time from the very beginning and even though I’ve torn an ACL, I’ve broken my legs, all that kind stuff, I’ve still keep at doing that stuff.
So when I’m either filming a martial arts show or not, I’m still exercising because it’s part of my life.
I mean I’ve been doing martial arts since I was 11. It’s been a lifestyle thing for me now and I can’t not train, it makes me feel weird if don’t – I feel super low energy if I don’t – if I like go for a week without training or two weeks without training.
So it’s not a pressure that I feel from the industry, it’s just something that’s my nature. But I don’t not eat stuff because I’m afraid of these or that. It’s mostly – if I view like any of those additions for personal health more than what people see in – or require of me.
(Diana Marsh): All right one last question Daniel, so I just wanted to piggy back on the health related question. What kind of work out routines did you have to either start or add on to your own. Did you prepare for such a challenging role?
So it’s interesting because I started training 6 months out for the role, because I hadn’t done a martial done a martial arts film in probably like 6 or 7 years and that’s because I’ve been injured pretty badly in the past, a torn ACL, I broke an ankle, all these stuff and I realized like you know the length of a career of an action star could be very, very short just like a professional athlete.
And so you need to branch out and concentrating on other acting opportunities and so I stopped doing martial arts stuff. And so for these I knew first of all it was going to be very intense, and probably the most intents kind of movie fighting in my life.
You know Jackie Chan and Jet Lee don’t even do this amount of fighting in shorter time, or even in shorter amount of time that we did. So it’s a special kind of training to get ready for these, to have the stamina to last the whole 4 months and fighting 12 hours a day for 6 days a week. A professional fighter who fights for let’s say the US, they train all the time but they concentrate on an 8-week training camp and they fight one day for maybe 30 to 40 minutes and they’re done.
And that’s diminished that, but it’s a different kind of training when you’re doing something for everyday for 12 hours a day for 4 months straight. So first of all, because I’ve been away from that kind of level action fighting in film, I just slowly get my body back into it. So I did some pretty extreme yoga stuff to get my flexibility back and to make sure that muscles and all the stuff works the weight training as well, to make sure that the muscle is strong and able to support all my join because I know I have a weak joint because of the previous injuries. And then also to do running and sort of cardio training to get the stamina up to last all day long.
And then about 3 months out, I started specially working on martial arts stuff, specific moves that I thought would be cool for the show, difficulty moves, aerial kicks, things like that I worked on.
And in the 6 week fight camp that we had for the other actors, I started to work on detailed stuff like (Sunny) use double swords and I’m not really familiar with double swords before I dabbled in it in my martial arts training but I wouldn’t say I was an expert on it.
So I really focused on the little detailed stuff like that. and getting my left hand coordinated better and learning to use some swords and finding in a way to move the swords cool – in a very cool way because it’s limiting. A single sword is much freer than the double swords and so I had to get used to that.
And then sort of eventually getting to move and fight with the costume because that long leathered trench coat can be very restrictive to movement so I learned how to do that as well.
So it was a long specific process that I went through to get to where I need Ed to play (Sunny).
(Diana Marsh): Were you able to remain injury free for these episodes?
Relatively. There was one incident where I got hang up in the wire and I cracked a rib but that was minor, I didn’t even know it was broken 3 days later. I was like it still hurts. Maybe I should see the doctor and when I got erased yes you got a cracked rib.
And what can I do about that? He’s like not much you can do. So, I got fighting, I go with my fired for a lot two weeks while my ribs healed. I’m going through it.
But luckily I didn’t get any – what I was mostly worried about was muscle strain, torn ligament and things like that. Because those are really hard to come back from my experience in the past but that didn’t happen so. Luckily I was lucky.
Thanks guy’s thanks for your time and thanks for the great questions.
Here is a look at the series’ incredible choreography, led by fight director Stephen Fung, as lead character Sunny (Daniel Wu) encounters a group of adversaries in the woods, proving he is not one to mess with: