Get to Know Fala Chen, the Emotional Core of ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’

That’s what husbands are for. It sounds like you dove into training right away, but I’d love to hear more about how you prepared for this character. 

I jumped in with the training without knowing much about the character. They didn’t reveal anything about my character when they made the offer, which made me wonder: How do managers and agents negotiate for the contract? Because they don’t really know what I would be doing in the film, but kudos to them! 

When I landed, the first thing I did was a physical assessment of how flexible I am and how much I know about martial arts and stuff like that. I think I failed miserably, but they were like, “We’ve seen you in other films where you did a little bit of that before. You seemed okay.” I was like, “Well, it’s called filming. I’m an actor.” But I really enjoyed the training. The first week was so tough, I barely could walk. I was so sore all over.  They gave us these cryo treatments, where they freeze you for a couple of seconds so your body recovers quickly. That helped. Also, I had massages. That was so good; it was my favorite part of the training. 

It was really great to train along with Simu and Meng’er, to see each other every day and goof around on the training ground and hang out. We got to know each other really well and became friends. It was really great to warm up everybody as a team before we even started shooting. Also, I loved working with Destin and meeting him. 

I remember our first meeting, because we didn’t meet prior to me arriving to set. He was so reassuring. Sometimes when you get offered a role—and I didn’t audition for this—so I was just like, “Why did you pick me?” He told me, “We saw hundreds of people and we wanted to offer you this part.” I asked, “What can I bring to the story?” And he was like, “You just being yourself. We’ll give you training, and we’ll let you do your own thing. We trust you that you will bring yourself to the film.” And that’s very much what he did during the shoot. He allowed me to step into the role. It was very much an open conversation, where I didn’t feel like I was just taking directions but was also outputting ideas—thoughts about the translation, the backstories, and all that. It was a pleasant, collaborative experience. 

Do you have an example of an idea you had or a collaboration you were happy to see included?

So many. There was a scene where they were not recording the dialogue but wanted it to really happen spontaneously. So Destin asked me and Tony to improv the scene together. It was a very intimate, loving scene. We were sitting by the lake, and Destin was shooting from behind so he didn’t really even see our full faces, and he just let us improv.

It’s a really short scene in the script, so we just thought it would be for a few seconds and what not. But he didn’t cut. As actors, if the director doesn’t cut, then you just keep going. So we chatted for about at least 15, 20 minutes. And I had the best time. Can you imagine, just talking and chatting with Tony Leung? I got to ask all my fan girl questions. He’s very shy in real life, so in the improv he was answering my questions. I had such fun time. I was feeding him food and talking and doing things I would never dare to do in real life. Eventually Destin cut the scene and said, “Guys, that was so interesting. You’re so beautiful to watch that I didn’t want to cut. I could watch you guys play forever.” That was a really memorable scene.

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