Nine Inch Nails: Kelly Hu talks 'X2'

Tue, April 29th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

TV Film
Rob Worley, Columnist

She can kick your head off, she's not afraid of X-Fans and she's on her second

action figure, but is Kelly Hu ready to take on Wolverine in "X2?"

The actress recently sat down with the press for roundtable interviews.

Several members of the press took turns asking questions about the new mutant

movie. Comics2Film/CBR News is pleased to provide readers with an edited

transcript of that conversation.

Warning: This transcript contains spoilers.

Kelly Hu (KH): [Sits down in front of the microphones] I feel like the


Q: Don't say that.

KH: [laughs] Yeah, it wouldn't be good these days.

Q: Don't you have a brother in the military?

KH: I do. Yeah, he's a major in the army: a major pain in the ass.

Q: Does that maybe give you a different perspective on all the world events?

KH: It maybe does. It maybe gives me a different perspective than most people

in Hollywood. People in this industry have been very vocal about being against

the war. Growing up in a military family, my dad was also in the military. He

didn't make a career out of it the way my brother did, but I also have uncles

who did, and whatnot. I guess it gives me a different perspective on going in

and doing their duties and fighting and being much more patriotic, I think.

My brother, although he's not been shipped out there, realizes that it would

be his duty to fight for his country and I think he would do it very proudly, as

I'm sure that all of these other men who have gone abroad to fight do. I

wouldn't want him to be in that situation, where he gets shipped off and

possibly has to put his life on the line. However, I understand the importance

of it and may be more understanding than some in Hollywood.

Q: How important is your martial arts training in a film like "X2"?

KH: Well this film, actually, in the choreography, they didn't want it to

look very martial artsy, per se. They didn't want it to come out looking like a

Jackie Chan film or anything. The choreographer was very, very adamant about

making it look like these two vicious mutant fighters, rather than something

that was choreographed like martial arts.

When you get to work in this sort of realm of fantasy, you're not limited to

what humans can do. You can take it so much further. I think the choreographer

was able to come up with these really amazing, amazing ideas, putting it to

actual, practical use is a different story. You can imagine a person flying

around the room, but to actually have them flying around the room is a whole different


I think though that they were able to come up with some great choreography

and great ways to actually execute it, and I'm so incredibly thrilled with the

final outcome of it. I can't even tell you. I'm just in awe...of myself


Q: What did they actually put on your nails to make it look like claws and

how hard was it to deal with those things?

KH: They actually took molds of my hands and fitted each claw to the

fingertip of my hand. I grew out my fingernails and they were able to crazy glue

them onto the bottom of my fingernails. These pieces that they were able to

shape are just beautiful works of art, really. If you look at them closely

they're really beautiful. They made it out of a very pliable plastic, so they

were very light and easy to work with and they wouldn't actually hurt anyone if

I really managed to hit someone, namely myself. They were able to make them

light enough so that it wasn't hard for me to move in them or anything.

There were some points, a lot of times where they show me stabbing through

him and things where it was jus too dangerous to have them in, or just not

practical, because you can't show my claws going through his body if I can't get

close enough to his body. So a lot of that stuff was CGI.

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As I watched the film I remembered doing some things with the claws and doing

some things without and I watched the film to see if I could tell the

difference, and you can't. You can't even tell the difference between the real

claws and the fake ones. It's amazing.

Q: When you're filming and you've got the claws on and then you take a break

and want to get a glass of water or something, what do you do?

KH: It is such a challenge to be walking round the set with these eight-inch

nails, nine-inch nails -- that's a band, isn't it -- and you can't do anything.

You're basically held hostage by your hands. I mean, you can scratch your head,

but you can't like, take off a coke. You can't take anything off the craft

service table. Using the bathroom was a huge challenge. I got very, very close

to my wardrobe people and I tried not to drink water all day. It was really


Q: I didn't really need to think about that.

KH: [laughs] Sorry.

Q: I'm just glad there wasn't a love scene because you could scratch something.

KH: Right [laughs].

Q: Were you ever able to cut loose with Wolverine star Hugh Jackman or was

every bit of the fight scenes filmed in short, sectional pieces where you can't

really see the bigger picture?

KH: Yeah, you know when you shoot a fight scene like that, especially when

you're working with wires, you have to shoot little pieces at a time, because

every move is wired differently. It has to be lit differently and shot

differently. It takes weeks to come up with the little fight scene that we have.

I don't know exactly how many minutes it is on camera.

But, yeah, there is no master shot. You just can't. You're flying through the

air through half of it. You can't do a master going, "OK. At this part:

this is where she flies and she lands here." It wouldn't work. So you do

have to take little bits and pieces.

The way the choreographer and director of this fight did it was just genius

though. He put it all together, on his computer, with the stunt doubles. So, we

kind of had an idea of what it was gonna look like because he showed us, sort

of, sloppily edited together on his computer. So we knew each piece that we were

doing. We could see it as we were doing it, with the doubles having done it with

the wires and everything. So it gave us a much better idea of what was coming up

next and the rhythm of the fight.

Q: We heard a lot about what came out of that scene to keep it PG-13. Was

there initially a lot of blood in your performance?

KH: We worked with a little bit of blood, but the challenge know,

the fact that they both have regenerative powers; you can't have the blood and

then not have the blood in the same shot. So a lot of that stuff is CGI. I think

a lot of the parts that they had to take away because of the ratings were the

strikes and maybe the blood in the tanks and things like that. Otherwise we had

little bits of blood on our face and whatnot, but it would all heal if you had

regenerative powers.

Q: The wire work looks so cool when you see it on screen, but I'd imagine

it's not so much fun to get harnessed up and hoisted up. What does it take to

get used to that?

KH: Oh my God. It's so hard. You think you're physically fit and you think

you have coordination until you get hoisted up on wires and just hung from

different pick points on your body and you quickly discover what your body

distribution's like.

You know, I thought that I was very agile and I could probably get my butt

over my head very easily but I didn't realize how heavy my butt is, how heavy

that part of my body was.

It's whole different muscle. A lot of the muscles that you're working with

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when you're on wires is like internal stuff: using your stomach muscles to hoist

you around.

It's not a science either. It's quite scary sometimes. There's this one part

where I do this sort of helicopter spin. Basically they just pick point you from

the back of the neck, so you can spin around this wire, and they have one wire

that wraps around your body and they just pull it. So you're like a top,

spinning in the air. It's a little bit scary because it's not a science and it's

very, very easy to get hurt and get tangled up in the wires. When you're upside

down especially you don't know where the wires are and you don't have an idea of

what direction you're even in sometimes. So, yeah, it gets really dangerous.

I've had a couple of times where I got tangled up in the wires and things

like that. Certainly a lot of bruises from the harness, just being hoisted up in

it. It's like having a giant wedgie. Basically they make these harnesses as

comfortable as possible, but they have to be hidden under all your clothes, so

they can't be big. They have to make them as small as possible. So it's all of

your body weight in this harness. You walk off the set with bruises just from

having the harness on and being hoisted up, much less bruises from actually

being hurt and hit and stuff.

Q: At some point you stop being and actor and start being a technician,

don't you?

KH: Yes. Very much.

Q: It's as if you're not acting any more.

KH: Yeah, it's hard to remember all that choreography, to remember all that

those little details, not to get your hair tangled in the wires, to remember to

do all of this on a very specific point, because you could actually, physically

get hurt. You could lose an arm or something -- and act all at the same


It's a whole different skill learning to fight, especially when you've got

wire work involved.

Q: Is your character a nemesis in the Wolverine video game?

KH: I actually had to play that video game for the first time. I never play

video games. I'm so bad at it. I have no manual dexterity. I can kick your head

off but I can't play a stupid little video game. I suck.

I actually spent the first whole part of the game, trying to play, and I

thought that I was playing Deathstrike, because it was Wolverine against

Deathstrike. For like the first ten minutes, I was wondering why I couldn't get

this character to do anything and then he told me, "You're Wolverine.

You're playing AGAINST the Deathstrike!"

I thought, "Oh, OK! That makes so much more sense now." [Laughs]

Q: How is that, to see yourself in a video game?

KH: It's really fun, to have all of these games made and these dolls made

after's strange, because this will be my second doll because I had the

first one from "Scorpion King." It's weird to walk into someone's

office and seeing your doll doing center splits on top of their computer.


Q: Do men get intimidated when they realize you can actually kick their head


KH: That would explain why I can't get really a date these days. [laughs]

I hope I don't intimidate guys too much. Women are playing much stronger

characters these days. They're just gonna have to get used to it.

Q: Which of your dolls is the most realistic looking?

KH: You know, I haven't seen the new doll yet, the "X-Men" doll.

I'm hoping that it looks a lot like me. I know that the "Scorpion

King" doll didn't look anything like me.

They did actual scans of my head and my body, but then the first thing I did

when I saw the doll -- I lifted up her skirt to see and there was this huge

space between her legs and I said, "That's not anatomically correct!"

And they said, "Well, they had to make her that way and your doll can do

the center splits and in order to do the center splits it has to be built this

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And I said, "Why is it necessary from my doll to do the center splits.

Rock's doll doesn't do the center splits."

Apparently it's a way cool thing to have a doll that can do that, not a cool

thing when it's supposed to look like you.

Q: What was it like to work with Sir Ian McKellan?

KH: I didn't actually get to work a lot with Ian McKellan. He and my

character don't really meet up at any point in the film. But I did get to be on

set with him when he was working and hung out with him a lot off screen. He's

awesome. He was like the guy who was always through the parties and the dinners

and stuff.

That was one of my biggest fears, coming into this film, was walking into

this group of people who already had this history, and worked together, and this

rapport and then being sort of like the new kid on the block. I thought I was

gonna be eating lunch by myself and all this stuff. But they were so


Ian would invite me to the parties right away. I got to know these people and

I felt very included. So yeah, I was a bit nervous about them at first and

having to stand up to these amazing actors and hold my own. They just made me

feel so comfortable. It was so much easier than I thought it would be.

Q: What about stepping into this world with this huge, vocal fan base. Have

you had fan encounters?

KH: I actually got invited to Comic-Con while we were shooting this. It was

such an amazing experience. I had no idea how big this comic book world is I

grew up with comics like "Archie" and "Richie Rich." I

didn't even know that the "X-Men" comics existed until the first movie

came out. I didn't actually see an "X-Men" comic until I started

researching my character for this film.

So when I went to this convention it was really an eye-opener. There were

like fifty thousand comic book fans walking around in like costumes and what

not. They knew so many details about this comic book world. It was phenomenal.

I, at that point, had just started shooting. I wasn't allowed to give out

anything about my character. I wasn't allowed to say who I was playing or what

my special powers were or whether I was a mutant or not, or what my relationships

were, or anything about the story at all.

It was kept so secret that walking into this comic book world of fifty

thousand people was like being bombarded. It was like a sheep walking into like

fifty thousand wolves.

They picked up on the tiniest details. I was like, "I can't tell you

anything. I can't tell you anything. That's a secret. That's a secret!"

Then one of these guys noticed I had silver finger nail polish on and he

goes, "does that have anything to do with your character?"

I mean it was just amazing. These guys picked up on the tiniest little

details. If I batted my eye wrong when I was telling them something, they would

pick up on it and it would be on the Internet the next day.

Q: Did experiencing Comic-Con change the way you felt about the

responsibility towards the fans?

KH: Very much so. The comic book fans, especially "X-Men" fans are

so serious about their comic book. I was really worried about it. I was worried

about how it was going be received, how my character was going to be received,

but Bryan is such an amazing director.

Bryan Singer is so amazingly talented. He was able to put together a trailer

for Comic-Con, giving them a sneak peek of our film, with just four weeks of

shooting. None of it had any special effects. There was none of

exploding or any of that action stuff. It was just all the story of what we had

shot in four weeks.

He had managed to put this together and it was so well received. People were

standing up and cheering. They asked to see the trailer again. After having seen

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that response I felt so much better and felt like I was really in good hands.

Q: Isn't it a little weird that they're that passionate about it?

KH: It's weird, I guess, to some people to be so into this world that doesn't

really exist, but I think it's a great way to focus your energy. It's something

that's very positive. There's no negative repercussions. It's not like getting

into drugs or something. If kids are going to get into these comic books and

spend all of their time researching these characters, let them. It's so much

better than getting into all this other mischief that they could possible get in

trouble with and get themselves into.

Q: Did you have any temptation to go out for Halloween in your costume?

KH: I was actually thinking it would be funny to dress up as Lady Deathstrike

for Halloween, but no one would know who I was yet. I actually wanted to be

Wolverine. They dressed up Hugh's son as Wolverine for Halloween and he came

trick or treating. Then there was another day when they dressed up his sister,

who was visiting on set, as Wolverine.

Now, that I've sort of existed in this comic book realm, it's hard to dress

up as anyone else for Halloween. I used to be Pocahontas every year. That's kind

of dull now.

Q: Who gets credit for the whole knuckle-cracking thing? Did you have a


KH: I really do crack my knuckles a lot in life. That's why I have hands like

an eighty-five-year-old woman. But it was all special effects, all of this

stuff. The effects department in this film had really done their work. They

really earned their money. It came out so quickly. From the moment we stopped

shooting until now, hasn't even been a year and there were so many different

effects to put in this film, I'm amazed that this film has come out on time.

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