Bad Girl: Jaime King talks about 'Bulletproof Monk'

Fri, April 11th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

TV/Film
Rob Worley, Columnist

At the ripe age of 23, Jaime

King is on her second career. She started modeling under the name James King in

her teens and before long found herself on the covers of major fashion

magazines. Two years ago she made her debut on the big screen with bit parts in

movies like "Happy Campers" and "Blow." Next week her career

will take another turn when she plays the lead female role in "Bulletproof

Monk" opposite Seann William

Scott and Chow

Yun-Fat.

MGM Studios has provided CBR readers with this Q & A session with King about the movie.

Q: Tell us what is going on here.

KING: Right now we're doing my first fight scene, the scene where I meet Kar

for the first time. We do a dramatic fight, so they are back there right now

with the stunt doubles working out the choreography.

Q: You're going to be fighting?

KING: Yeah, Seann and I have been training since November. We will also be on

the wires doing moves.

Q: What was the training like?

KING: It was great -- 6 to 7 hours a day of gymnastics and kung fu and

martial arts with kicks and all kinds of different styles. Then we came up here

and had rehearsal time on the wires.

Q: Have you done anything like this before?

KING: That's one of the reasons I really wanted to do this role. It's so

physical, and the idea of acting and doing all the physical stuff really

appealed to me. I'm pretty athletic and I feel like it's a cool thing to

incorporate something like this into your craft.

Q: Is it really fun?

KING: Some of it can be really challenging, but the human body is amazing -

how resilient it is and how far you can push it and how far you can really go.

Who doesn't want to be in the air on wires flying around?

Q: What was the hardest part about the training?

KING: I would say the most challenging part about training is just getting

certain moves integrated into your body. Sometimes I would do a kick over and

over and think, "Oh my God, I can't get this kick right," and then,

after a couple of days, all of a sudden I could do it. It clicks and your whole

body gets it.

Q: I heard you had to learn to speak Tibetan.

KING: I did. There's a scene in the movie when I first meet Chow Yun-Fat and

Seann William Scott (the Monk and Kar), and I start speaking in Tibetan with

Chow Yun-Fat's character about Kar. Kar is pretending he knows what we're

talking about, but he has no clue at all.

Q: Were you speaking actual Tibetan. How do you learn that?

KING: You get a dialect coach and go through every single part of it.

Practice makes perfect.

Q: What is your look for this film?

KING: It's sort of renegade. These are street kids, this is their hangout,

and their dress is about being able to camouflage and be a part of their

environment. They need clothes they can move and fight in. The costume designer

is really amazing. We went through so many looks before we decided what Bad Girl

should look like. Then, on the other hand, there's Jade - I play a dual

character, and she dresses completely differently. The contrast is really

incredible.

Q: Why is she called Bad Girl?

KING: When Kar first sees her, he eyes her when he is about to get his butt

kicked by my gang members. He turns around and is like, "Bad Girl." He

looks at me and he calls me out. That's how I am dubbed.

Q: He's in a precarious situation…

KING: Kar is in a precarious position because he has started to pick pockets

on our turf, and our gang leader, Fuktastic, is getting ready to beat the crap

out of him. After his failed attempts to try to get out of it, he comes to me

like, "Hey, do you think this is a fair fight? Can you help me out

here?" and I'm like, "I'm sorry, I can't help you out."

Q: That's when you first meet each other. Then, quite a relationship

develops.

KING: By the end of that scene, I essentially help get him out of the

situation. We have a very resistant relationship. He awakened something in me

and I awaken something in him. We both grow up at the same time, and it's this

battle of not wanting to really discover or feel the emotions that we're feeling

when we're around each other.

Q: There is some chemistry, do sparks fly?

KING: There's definitely chemistry. It's all emotion in our interactions and

exchanges.

Q: You said it's like a conflict for you…

KING: Yeah, because I don't know this kid. I don't know where he comes from.

All I know is that there is a connection between us. I'm afraid that people

aren't going to love me for who I am, so I run around with this gang pretending

to be this bad chic. Then, I meet this kid who all of a sudden I'm falling for

and I don't understand why. Then, the Monk awakens Kar to his own enlightenment,

and it becomes a triangle where we are all awakening each other.

Q: What is it like working with Seann?

KING: It's really great. He's so awesome and fun. I first met him at the

screen test and we got along. Now, we have a really great relationship because

we've had all this rehearsal time. It's great to know how you're going to

interact and how you work with someone.

Q: Have you had a chance to work with Yun-Fat yet?

KING: We have rehearsals and things. He's so gracious and cool. The way he

carries himself is amazing. He is a really, really kind, gentle person.

Q: How would you describe the style of this film? Very cool looking…

KING: It's very dramatic and very dark and very quick -- like a cross between

"Indiana Jones" and "Flight Club." It's going to be different from any other movie

that you've ever seen. We're all from such different places. There are so many

different things going on at once to create this wonderful film. I've never seen

anything shot the way these things are shot.

Q: Are you having a good time?

KING: I'm having a great time, it's really fun.

Q: How were you approached to play this role?

KING: I specifically remember the moment that I read the script and the

moment I knew I wanted to do this film. I was lying in bed and as I was reading

it, I could visualize myself in the part. I made the choice. I said I'm going to

get this role no matter what. I don't care what I have to do, I'm going to be in

this film. I remember telling my agent this, too. I auditioned five times and

did a screen test and a physical test. It was really a cool process because I

got to work with Paul and the casting director and play it in different ways. It

made receiving the role so much more incredible for me because I worked so hard

to get it.

Q: What was it that made you say I have to have this role?

KING: There was something that resonated true to me. I knew that there was

something within me that authentically could understand where she was coming

from on a lot of different levels. You have to relate to the character in some

way. I also felt like the script had a lot to say, a lot to say in a way that

hasn't been said before.

Q: You said you read it and you were determined.

KING: I was going to do whatever it took to get that role. I just know I was

meant to play it and that I could put so much love behind the role. It was

really great to go in there and prove myself.

Q: Tell us about Jade.

KING: Essentially, Jade is looking for purpose and meaning in her life. She

has an innate desire to help people. She has a true interest in the world and

the things around her, but I don't think she necessarily knows what that is

about. It's something she is awakening to and discovering. She wants something

to love and take care of, but she is very protective of herself because she

doesn't know what she is worth. She finds it with her gang members, her attitude

and toughness and fighting. Then, when she meets Kar and the Monk, she can't

deny that she is good and that she is here to help save the world. When she

chooses to save the scroll and to protect the Monk, she has found her soul's

purpose. She will sacrifice anything for that. It's an incredible journey for me

to be a part of that and to awaken those things within myself. I think everybody

is looking for purpose so it's really cool to play a character that finds it.

Q: Does she show a hint of vulnerability? What's her relationship with Kar

like?

KING: He is the first one who sees through the fighting. We all have people

like that in our lives, who can see through us. At some point, we allow

ourselves to be revealed to them and that's an incredible thing. I think that it

takes a lot for someone to say, "I see through you, I know what you're

about." Kar is always doing that. He doesn't allow her to run the usual

things on him that she does on other people. He just calls her out on it.

Eventually she gives up. I think that she feels safe to do so.

Q: She understands he is one of those people.

KING: They battle each other, but then they realize they are both looking for

a purpose in their lives. I think that they come together because they have

something to save and protect. That's a huge responsibility to share with

someone.

Q: What has your experience been like on the set, is it what you expected?

KING: No, it's not. It changes all the time. I'm learning something new

everyday. I've never done so much action and acting at the same time. It's a

completely different experience. It's tough, but at the end of the day I feel so

fulfilled. We're putting so much energy into it. We've trained for so long and

as we come to the completion of this project I know that everyday it just keeps

getting better.

Q: You haven't had to be as physical before?

KING: No, not like this wire work and kung fu, fighting and punching and

kicking. It's amazing how focused and really present you need to be. It's just

awesome. It's unlike any other movie I've ever done before.

Q: Talk about training… wire work …

KING: Seann and I both started training in early December in Los Angeles.

Then we came up here a couple of months early and trained everyday 5 to 6 hours

a day doing kung fu, Hong Kong Street fighting, tai kwon do, and wire work. The

idea of being paid to learn how to do kung fu and to act and learn from

incredible actors and great producers and this visually amazing director - it

was something I really wanted to try and that I knew I could do. I mean, your

body also looks incredible after all that training. [laughs]

Q: Was it something that you took to right away?

KING: You have to memorize the techniques and the forms and integrate your

consciousness and your body at the same time so that it becomes fluid.

Sometimes, getting your head wrapped around these moves can be really

overwhelming. When you're enthusiastic as an actor and you want to get it down

so perfect and then you don't you're so frustrated! You have to remind yourself

that you do the best you can. We've got really great people teaching us and

that's been another incredible blessing. The people I'm learning from are just

so awesome.

Q: What makes them special?

KING: Their experience, patience, support. They have been with us from the

very beginning and it feels so good. The other day I did a really awesome wire

kick and it felt so good to have my fight team around me, the people that have

been teaching me from the very beginning, rooting me on. I kept thinking to

myself, "I have been training for 4 1/2 months for this and I'm going to do

a great job and I can pull this last one out of me." It was an amazing

feeling to come that far.

Q: Talk about your relationship with Seann professionally and personally.

KING: We don't get to spend that much time with each other because we are

working so much, but we have a great time. It's really easygoing and free

flowing. We have fun together and goof around and we both have a strong passion

for this movie. It's funny because every time we want to do something, we have a

big scene the next day, or have been working every day, even our days off. Seann

is really an inspiration, you know. He works really hard. It's so wonderful to

work with people who are that enthusiastic about their jobs. Seann is definitely

enthusiastic about what he is doing, so it's been really cool to watch that.

Q: Were you excited when you heard Chow Yun-Fat would be in the film?

KING: Oh yes, I was really excited. He encompasses an incredible amount of

grace. He's so funny. I'm learning so much from the way he handles people and

himself on set. Also, he is really efficient with time. He comes and he stands

on his mark, he is there for the camera guys, he is there for the rehearsals, he

is very crisp and clean and clear about what he's doing, he gets his things

done. He is very purposeful with his energy and his time on set. There is a good

energy because he has a lot of gratitude. He is really easygoing, and

lighthearted. He doesn't take anything too seriously and he's joking around a

lot and I think it's nice to have light energy like that on the set. It really

frees things.

Q: What is your experience working with Paul?

KING: He knows what he wants visually, but it's still so much magic. He's

like a little kid when he gets amped or excited about something. It's been a

great process to work with him and to learn what he is looking for and how he

sees things. He's really ahead of his time. I think that what he is creating is

going to be completely different than anything we have ever seen. I know he

admires David Fincher and Tim Burton, but he is melding everything together. I

see him really work hard on each shot. Visually, it's so rich. One of the

special things about this film is that it's fantasy, but there's truth. They're

creating scenes that really make you want to jump into the screen. It makes you

want to drip with life and newness and anticipation because there's promise of

something greater out there. Paul has an incredible ability to capture the

urgency behind the story.

Q: Does he help you develop your character?

KING: The story evolves and as we evolve throughout the film. Jade evolves as

well. Our process has just been constantly talking about that and building on

that and keeping communication open.

Q: Do you think this film is going to have a wide appeal across countries?

KING: There are so many different things in Bulletproof Monk that different

people can relate to, whoever they are. And who doesn't want to see someone save

the world?

Q: Any thoughts looking back… what stands out as memorable?

KING: This has been such an incredible journey of personal experience. We've

been filming for six months and it's amazing to see how the characters have

evolved. I just did my big fight scene over the past three days and that was an

incredible experience. It just gets better and better each time. I think we have

two weeks left, but it still feels like I could go back and do it all again.

Q: Talk about this Nina fight… what was going on there?

KING: It was some serious cat fighting. I got my first official injury on

set. Nina whips out her baton and goes to hit me with it and actually impaled my

eye. Three days, 15-hour-long days, fighting, wire work, being thrown into walls

and punching each other and kicking and shoving and hair pulling. It's pretty

fun.

Q: You seem so resilient. What is the secret of being able to bounce back?

KING: When you really love what you're doing, you want to do it the most

excellent way that you can. Also, after six months of training, you become used

to focusing that much and putting all that energy into it. Then you start seeing

how good it is and how good it can be. Then you just get really excited and your

enthusiasm just takes you all the way through.

Q: What was it like doing the fight scene on the wire?

KING: I don't think I've ever seen anything like it for women, which is

really cool. We're like, "We're going to make this the best women's fight

scene you have ever seen in your entire life." I get to run up the wall a

couple of times, then jump off the wall, doing back-spinning kicks. You never

grow up thinking you're going to do something like that and then all of a sudden

there you are doing it, and it's incredible.

Q: This is stuff audiences haven't necessarily seen before.

KING: Because we're mixing so many influences, it's an incredible combination

of all these different styles. I haven't seen anything like it, and that's how I

feel about this film in general. It's Eastern and spiritual and then Western -

it's pretty amazing.

Q: What stands out in your mind that you are most proud of?

KING: Getting through three 15-hour-long days of just fighting. There are

times on the wires when I would be so exhausted and then all of a sudden I would

look around and see the fight team and the director and the other actors and I'm

inspired. All this energy comes rushing, and I get it right and it's the best

feeling when it comes together perfectly and it's going to be immortalized on

celluloid.

Q: Is there a favorite thing you learned…

KING: The wire work. I'm pretty good at it and it's so much fun, like flying.

Q: And you must look back . . .

KING: I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. As it's winding down, I have

greater clarity on how much work and how much fun I have had. I am proud of all

the work that we've done, so I'm starting to get really nostalgic and

sentimental.

 
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