You don’t get two actors more different from each other than Giovanni Ribisi and Ling Bai. The LA-born Ribisi has been a part of three dozen major productions in the past 15 years including such films as “Lost in Translation”, “Cold Mountain”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “The Gift”, “Lost Highway”, “The Postman”, “The Virgin Suicides”, “That Thing You Do!”, “Gone in 60 Seconds”, and assorted high profile TV guest roles on shows like “The X-Files”, “NYPD Blue” and a recurring part as Phoebe’s brother on “Friends”. Known for loud and sometimes slightly insane characters, the real Ribisi is a quiet, almost timid young guy who struggles at times in an interview but comes out of it all not too shabby. In a crowded room he’s the kind of person who’d melt right into the background.
Ling on the other hand explodes into a room. The Chinese actress best remembered for more demure roles in the likes of “Red Corner”, “The Crow”, “Nixon”, “Anna and the King”, and the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode III” is a bombshell. The lady turned up to the very casual San Diego Comic Con dressed like she was ready for a night on the town with a ‘shredded’ style outfit that not only went all the way up past any point of bashfulness but stunning makeup and jewellery like diamond earrings that literally were shaped into the word ‘sexy’. Complimenting the look was her interview technique, her English isn’t perfect but she talks super fast and can expand any question into a hell of a good yarn.
At the con I got to sit down with both and ask them about their work on the upcoming “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”, the CG-backgrounded sci-fi pulp adventure in which they play the young male technical whiz Dex and the mysterious provocative female adversary to Sky Captain (Jude Law) respectively in the film.
As all the film was constructed in its entireity in animatics and pretty much edited beforehand, when production came around and they need a shot they ended up filming scenes across three separate stages from all different points in the movie. It was something Ribisi felt “was challenging to say the least to find your rhythm, to find how you’re going to be comfortable. But after a while of getting used to it, it became fun, bare stage – full thespian mode”.
Ribisi came onto the film three days after he got the offer for his short shooting stint. He never felt constrained as such by the sheer empty blue screen stages or limited manuevering allowed – “you might draw analogies with doing stage where there aren’t any props but it’s not, it’s its own deal and you have to invent your own technique to find your niche as quickly as you can”.
First time Ling got into costume she could barely move let alone fight, and so while she loved the look, it caused her quite a bit of pain – especially during some of the harness scenes. The fight scene with Jude was difficult as the helmet and goggles impaired her abilities – “if you don’t hear, you don’t see, you can’t fight”. The costume did help in some ways though as she found it helped her get into character – “She’s fearless, she’s fun to me, she’s mysterious and can kick…all the girls love Jude Law and I’m like yeah I’m very lucky, I got to kick his ass”.
Both see the techniques developed here as the start of a new form of filmmaking – “It’s going to be the future of filmmaking, I guess the aspirations with the film is that here was something with such a huge production value but the budget was a fraction of what big budget films are being made for nowadays and I think it’s going to give a lot of people who are creative the ability to do things. I think for the people are really good at telling a story and can’t get their foot in the door, now there’s no excuse” said Ribisi.