It seems that the beautiful Lucy Liu is one of Hollywood’s busiest actors. In the thick of this year’s Sundance Film Festival and clad in a thick, white Parker, the diminutive, fast-talking star talked to Paul Fischer about her role in the new thriller Lucky Number Slevin, and what’s going on with her much delayed Charlie Chan project?
Question: Lucy you’re described as a dynamo. Where does that sense of energy come from?
Liu: I don’t know. She’s just a non-stop character, does a lot of talking and she doesn’t stop and she pushes forward. She’s someone who is always on the go and, curious and inquisitive and doesn’t think barging in on someone is rude. Her energy is hopefully contagious.
Question: Are you like that? Are you full of energy? Are you always on the go yourself?
Liu: I like to seize the day, but I mean she’s non-stop. And she doesn’t stop talking and comes up with these crazy monologues and you don’t know what she’s saying half the time. But actually if you think about it, it all makes sense.
Question: Is she like you?
Liu: She just condenses it into a very concentrated moment.
Question: We seem to be able to follow the movie through your character. Is that the way it was written?
Liu: Well originally she sort of came in before I came on board, when I read the script originally, she was more expositional, like she’d come in and sort of talk about what the connective issue was – like, what’s going here, what’s going on there. You know? And then once I jumped on board Jason – for all of us, like Morgan, Sir Ben and Josh, expanded these all in the writing. Like the writing was still basically the same but he added all those things. I mean he’s an incredible writer with a great imagination.
Question: Do you think there’s more freedom in doing these kinds of movies and are you more comfortable in that arena than the sort of big Hollywood thing?
Liu: I think for me, I mean I’ve done a lot of independents that actually never made it video or anything like that but some that haven’t been released domestically. Even Kill Bill was shot as an independent movie, with a really, really low budget. We all took no money for what it was and because of Quentin and his popularity, and the way they marketed it, it became a huge, huge commercial film. So, I think there is more freedom in independent films because you get to play characters that you might not normally get to play. Originally this role was written for somebody Caucasian with blonde hair, but once we met he rewrote it and, that was no longer in the script. So, whatever ethnicity or religion we were didn’t really matter.
Question: What are you doing next? You’ve done a lot of movies lately.
Liu: I have. Last year I worked a lot.
Question: Is that by design or did it just happen?
Liu: I took a couple of years off. I mean there wasn’t a lot going on and I wanted to make sure that I chose things that I wanted to work on and was excited about. So this last year we did Slevin, which was amazing, and then I did another movie called Rise, which is a sort of dark vampire movie – more in the lines of The Hunger. And then I did a really broad comedy with Cedric the Entertainer that’s completely different.
Question: What was that one?
Liu: It’s called The Cleaner. So there’s so many different things – and 3 Needles I did before Slevin.
Question: And what’s next for you, do you know?
Liu: No, I don’t know what’s next.
Question: Are you doing the Charlie Chan film?
Liu: We’re all working on it. We’ve been working on the script for five years. It’s crazy.
Question: You’re supposed to be playing his granddaughter, is that right?
Liu: Yes, I’m playing his granddaughter. But I’m actually an Asian this time. [Laughter]
Question: And you started your production company, right?
Liu: Well I’m working with Universal on a project, and Imagine is working on both projects with me.
Question: Which movie is that? This is your first project as a producer, right?
Liu: well, I actually executive produced The Cleaner as well. Producing is hard because you have to really be patient and you have to work with the studios, which is great but it’s there’s a lot of red tape.
Question: Do you have patience?
Liu: I have patience but I also want things creatively to go in a way when you have passion about something you really want to put all your energies into and when it doesn’t happen immediately it gets discouraging.
Question: Are you starting on anything at the moment, Lucy? Are you taking a break or are you actually doing all this development stuff at this point?
Liu: Well the development stuff is a continuous…..
Liu: That’s a good word. (Laughter)
Liu: that’s a good synonym of what I was going to say. But I have been I’ve been taking a break and just sort of seeing what’s coming up next. Trying to bypass some of these other movies that I think are a little stereotypical and a little, run of the mill.
Question: Clearly not a Charlie’s Angels III then?
Liu: Well I would love to work on Charlie’s Angels III because it would be fun to work with everyone again. But I don’t know that it’s going to happen. I mean I don’t know anything. I’m not in charge, unfortunately. But I just had a great time on it. So it varies.