Thursday, August 22, 2013

Interview: Godfrey Gao, Thankful for His Breakout Role

Godfrey Gao as Magnus Bane in "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"
All that screaming and excitement you heard last night were the frantic cries of YA book lovers everywhere: "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" opened with fanfare. Fans of the book series were thrilled; the critics, not so much. But, you know, they said the same about "The Twilight Saga," and a bajillion dollars and a bajillion fans later, I don't think anyone really cares what the critics say.

If you've read the books by Cassandra Clare, or if you saw the film last night, I think we all can agree on one thing: The 800-year-old powerful warlock Magnus Bane rocks. And so does the actor who portrays him, Godfrey Gao. I spoke with Godfrey by phone last month, which happened to be the weekend of his first Comic-Con ("Comic Con-was crazy," he told me. "I mean, I literally went through like 20 interviews on the red carpet. I about lost my voice by the end of it.") "City of Bones" is Godfrey's first English-language film, and before fans even saw a teaser poster of his Magnus Bane, he'd already gained an additional 20,000 Twitter followers. Ah ... the power of the YA supernatural/thriller/romance/adventure book.

Celebrity Extra: First off, tell me about Comic-Con. That must have been exciting.

Godfrey Gao: It was very exciting. It was my first time at Comic-Con. I saw some cool outfits. One of my favorite outfits was this guy dressed up as Batman, but he was topless. You know the Batman logo? He had that logo on his chest, but it wasn’t a costume; it was shaved into his chest hair. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. There were Ironmans, Supermans and Spider-Mans ...

It was surreal for me because I’ve never seen that before. I’ve heard a lot of stories about Comic-Con, and it was just too bad I didn’t get to step out on the floor and see all these people. I was just there, in and out. I did interviews, did my radio, did my TV, and did my panel. The panel was crazy. There were more than 6,000 people. I was so nervous. I have never spoken in front of 6,000 people before, and that was something surreal.

CE: I saw how fans were lined up for 8 to 10 hours just to see you guys!

GG: I saw people camping outside. It was crazy. The lines were like mountains of people.

CE: Tell me about how you got this coveted role — Magnus is a breakout favorite character for most fans of the book series, myself included.

GG: Oh, I’m blessed and very thankful that I was cast in this role. At first, I didn’t know what "The Mortal Instruments" was until they were looking for an Asian character. So, I picked up the books myself, and I started reading them. I started reading about my character, and it was really, really interesting, and it kept me on my toes the whole time reading it. Obviously I’m a big fan as well. It was crazy how I was cast for the movie: There was a huge list of Asian top-tier celebrities who were trying out for this role, and at the end, I got it.

I’m still blown away by this cast, and it’s a great opportunity for me. I’ve always wanted to come to North America and start something. This is my first English feature. I’m just glad to be on this project with this beautiful cast and director.

CE: Just watching the different trailers for the movie, it looks pretty exciting. And I hear they gave the green light for the second book to be made into a movie.

GG: I can’t wait to see the movie myself. Just by reading the books — I've read the first three books so far — you can see it’s really exciting stuff, and I just can’t wait to hopefully be involved with every movie from now on.

(photo courtesy Jet Star Entertainment)
CE: How did you train for the role?

GG: For Magnus there wasn’t really any training for fight scenes, whereas all the other cast had training to do. Which I was glad because they looked really tired (laughs). They'd have to shoot, and on their weekends, they'd have to go train. Or sometimes even after they shoot, they'd have to go train. It’s pretty crazy. They were just really tired on set.

But I’d love to do some training myself. I love action. I want to do everything myself, as well. Aside from the movements, preparing for Magnus was pretty stressful for me because this character is really mysterious. You don’t really know much about his background, at first. I didn’t even know how to bring this character to life, and that’s a bit strange. I had to talk to Cassie. I had to talk to (director) Harold (Zwart). I had to learn a lot from the fans and the Internet about this character. This is definitely something new for me. I’ve never done this before. I’ve always played the rich, handsome guy that’s from outside of China and has a good family background. He always wears suits. He has a company and stuff like that.

So, this is definitely one of the out-of-the-ordinary characters for me, where I get to put makeup on like glitter, nail polish, eye shadow, and wear crazy outfits. At first when I got the makeup on, I was just like, “Man, what have I gotten myself into?” But it was really enjoyable. At the end of the whole transformation, I felt like I literally had powers. The outfit was so cool; the look was one of a kind.

My first day on set, we shot the scenes where I was pantless. I was just wearing underwear. It was pretty crazy. I guess Magnus wore a lot of costumes when he partied so much, and when people arrived at his party, he didn’t care what he was wearing. He forgot to put his pants on to greet people. So the first day on set, I was in my underwear in front of like a hundred people. It was pretty exciting, but it was also very cold because we were shooting at night and we were shooting outside.

CE: This movie could be a wonderful jumping-off point for you to really make a name for yourself in Western movies. What opportunities do you hope this movie brings for you?

GG: Oh, man. I don’t even know what’s going to happen. I’m just enjoying myself. And I’m just very grateful that there are so many supporters and so many people who love this character. This is just the first one for me and hopefully there will be more — maybe more movies or other roles to come. You never know. This is just a first step. As this door opens, there are more opportunities for me, and I’m just really glad there is because I love to learn, and I’d love to move here.

I’d also love to go back to Asia and do another movie. Hopefully an East/West joint movie with a Hollywood actor and an Asian actor. I’m just excited. The industry is getting bigger and bigger, and the Chinese market is huge. A lot of production companies want to shoot in China as well. I just can’t wait to have a joint project like that. And hopefully there will be the next Chinese superhero, like a Chinese Superman, or something like that. I just can’t wait for that day to happen.

CE: What do you know about the sequel, "City of Ashes"?

GG: I believe they are starting to shoot at the end of the year. I don’t know if I’m going to be in it because we haven’t really signed anything yet. But they’re really interested, I guess, just by the Comic-Con response, how the fans reacted. I guess I’ll be in the second one. I would love to shoot some more. I believe the second movie has a lot of Magnus stuff in it, as did the second book. I’m just looking forward to it, and hopefully I can be on set and be reunited with all the cast again, because they are really fun to work with.

CE: If you hadn't been cast as Magnus Bane, which other character would you have liked to have played?

GG: Honestly, for me, if I had to choose another character to play, I’d choose Valentine. He’s a bad-ass.

No comments:

Post a Comment