BAI LING CRANKS UP THE HEAT
by Paul Fischer
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Bai Ling is a unique actress to say the least. The Chinese-born beauty is always unashamedly sexy, frank and fascinating. She co-stars in the new Crank 2 action thriller that opens this week, and despite no official press junket for the film, Bai Ling chatted to PAUL FISCHER by phone from San Diego, about the film, her recent directorial debut and other issues pertaining to acting and romance in broken English via a speakerphone. It made for a colorful conversation.
QUESTION: First of all, what was it about this Crank sequel that appealed to you?
BAI LING: I think there’s a wildness, and the promise, because it’s most – free, and fun, and it just really, the character that I played. Because the director was too young to actually just allow me to do whatever I wanted to do. And it felt – you know, fun. Totally like a roller coaster. It’s like, for me, just like a kid. Go have fun. And go exhume. Do whatever I want to do.
QUESTION: So, what kinds of things did you get to do? I understand that you did all your own stunts?
BAI LING: Yeah. For example, with the car crash that was dangerous, they had a stunt double there. But I just decided to do it myself. So the director said, “Okay. If you want to do it, go for it.” So it’s literally, I trusted this man, I had probably only shaken his hand. And he just controlled my life. When the car comes too fast and hit me, then you have to lift me up when the car dropped me. I found myself, like, in the air. And then suddenly so fast, my nose almost cuts paint. It’s pretty dangerous.
QUESTION: What kind of a character do you play?
BAI LING: I play a character not written for Asian. There’s not much on the paper, literally, but I made her, like, alive. She’s like, a fire. She’s a delightful force in the film. Which, they introduced her – they dropped her from the second floor of a big storage-like house, second-floor window. Like, the whole building explodes, and you blow her out from the window into the pavement. That’s how they introduced her. So, it’s – then Jason, the lead character, saved her life. She said, “From now on, that you saved my life, I am yours.” So, that’s how it started. The whole time, she just follows him. He’s like, “I need to find my heart, in a hurry.” And – you know, “You need me.” And she says whatever she says. I don’t even know. She knows what does make sense or not. But, so, she learned. She said, basically, “I can help you.” She, basically, along the way, helps Jason find his heart. Finds the bad people.
QUESTION: But do you two have a romantic relationship?
BAI LING: Well, it’s just because he has a girlfriend that Amy Smart plays. We have a catfight, because I just want him and there’s two girls involved, that just follow him everywhere. And you can imagine what’s going on. Wherever I go, it’s like, I have high heeled shoes, with one heel that’s gone. I’m just like, nimbling around with him. It’s so funny. And just, like, release. It’s like, glued together, decided by my character.
QUESTION: Have you ever had a catfight over a guy in real life before? Have you ever been in a situation in your own life, where you fought over a man?
BAI LING: Not really. I don’t. Actually, this is all about doing the movie. I fought. I scream, I catfight, I do anything to be with the man in Crank 2, but in real life, no. In real life, actually, I express my love. But I’m pretty much, like, a Zen state of mind. Whatever happens, happens. I’m very much like – giving, loving, being there. If he’s happy with me, I let it be. If not, I let it go. I’m very easy in that way.
QUESTION: The last time I spoke to you, you said you were still looking for love. Are you still looking for love?
BAI LING: I’m always in love. Always romance. I’m like, naturally romantic mind. And I’m still not married. I would like to get married. Hopefully. And I just like that intimate love feeling, that I can share with somebody. But I am very much a romantic. I’m so loyal to my heart, to my being. I just can’t do otherwise. So I’m like – probably, I’m too romantic, and not so realistic. Therefore, it’s hard to find that person that – you know, that I think will be my partner. Lifetime soul mate. And also, I think a lot of men probably feel intimidated by me. Because I’m an actress, I go out and I dress sexy, and I flirt. And they think I’m somebody unapproachable. But I’m want to – I’m a giving, loving, sound person that you ever met.
QUESTION: What do you look for in a guy?
BAI LING: I’m not looking for anything. I just want my heart to smile when I meet somebody. And I feel the joy of kissing and hugging, and looking in each other’s eyes. And have a beautiful, romantic lovemaking and just enjoy life together. Have that danger, melt [?] in your heart all the time. It’s not just about the relationship, somebody who can support you or help you, because I live comfortably by myself. So, I love that romance in your soul. I think otherwise, you’re not really living, if there’s no love.
QUESTION: Now, as an actress, is it hard for you to find a character to play that really gets your juices flowing?
BAI LING: Yes. It’s like, basically, Crank 2 is just excitement, extreme. Like, this little girl come out. Wants to jump in the fire, wants to break the laws, the rules, and just follow a man, go extreme, and do dangerous things and going crazy. And just purely in an entertainment, joyful side of her life. That, I like. In real life, you cannot function like that.
QUESTION: How hard is it for you to find movies that you like to be in?
BAI LING: I can play any role. Even man’s role. For me, every role’s right. I really can, as actress. I want to share with you – like, all the roles I got offered were not – merely, like, talent around the edge. I’m just interested actor, and I can give so much. Any role, I can make her or him – even men, too – I can make sense. Like, the role I got in Crank 2 and Love Ranch, which is coming out.
QUESTION: Let me ask you a little bit about Love Ranch. That’s Taylor Hackford’s next film, isn’t it?
BAI LING: Yeah. So, that’s just a fantastic project to be involved with.
QUESTION: Who do you play in that?
BAI LING: I will get to it. Like, I’m really grateful he cast me. The character I play was originally written for a while girl with long hair, big boobs, and 20-year-old. Her name’s Samantha Smoke. Not used to me, [ how I look like. I auditioned for the part with Taylor Hackford. I got the part, which I’m really grateful he opened that to me. She is the highest owner of the prostitutes in that brothel. Because it’s a true story about the first legal brothel in Nevada, in the United States, back to the ‘70s. It’s a fascinating – and it’s sexy. And like most sensual and sexy women, they’re on screen. And compared to – because she’s, like, high class world, there, in the movies. Like, a super movie star. Because she dominated the whole brothel. And in Crank 2, I’m from the hood. Totally opposite. So, I can do those – I have this versatile actress. I can do all roles, according to what they needed. You know, for the movie.
QUESTION: Do you have any love scenes in Love Ranch?
BAI LING: Yeah. It’s all love scenes, because it’s all about seducing customers. And we have all this hidden reveals. Like, the curtains. Sometimes the wind blows up, sometimes closer, and you don’t see it. But you see it.
QUESTION: But you’re not naked in that movie, are you?
BAI LING: Am I naked? Well, you’ll have to find out. I think it’s all about dressing extremely, like, revealingly sexy, in a way it’s almost nude. You know.
QUESTION: Do you find it comfortable doing nude scenes on film?
BAI LING: Yeah, I’m very comfortable, because it’s not me. It’s the character, and needed for the movie, at the moments in the scene. And plus, playing the character who’s extremely sexy. It’s her body, it’s her being that attracted everybody there. You know? And I’m very comfortable, because in terms of talking about things, I think it’s something nature gave us. It’s a most beautiful sculpture, according to everybody in their own beings, are beautiful. So, it needs to be celebrated, cherished, and show of instance like – you know what, we in society. We grew up. We learned to be shameful of things we have, which is really pretty. No, things are beautiful. It’s a gift. Like, I did on the cover of Playboy Magazine, it really liberated me. I think I was very lucky to be honored by Hugh Hefner on the cover. Because they told me, it’s a man’s Bible. I think it’s better to be on Playboy than to be in a glossy fashion magazine, because they’re all backward. But in Playboy, it’s kind of raw. It’s real. It’s a woman. You know, part of us is made for men.
QUESTION: Is there any other movie that you’ve done since Love Ranch that you’re looking forward to? I mean, are you signed up for anything else?
BAI LING: Yeah. I have another – probably seven, eight movies are about to come out. Actions, comedies. And actually, I’m most excited for my own movie. I did my own movie, called] Nickels: Pieces of my Dream. I directed, I star in it, I shot it, I produced it. And I star in it with my eighth little spirit, that I draw the pictures. And I use them in the film as one of the – like, eight characters with me in the movie. Can go along in the movie. And I have, like, 11 songs in the movie. It’s something very intimate, very erotic, very modern and something very special art form of film, probably, you’ve never seen. A unique one.
QUESTION: Do you hope to get a distributor for that? Are you hoping for a theatrical release, or a television release? What are you planning on doing with it?
BAI LING: I don’t know. I’m like – I’m like, living life in the moment. I feel the excitement, of creative – feeling. I just did the movie, and am in the post-production. Of course, I would like to have a theatrical release, because I think it’s gonna be a hit movie. Because it’s very unique, from an actress. Like, my imaginary world is very rich, very crazy, and very extreme.
QUESTION: Is that how you would describe yourself?
BAI LING: Yeah, it’s a young woman’s journey, in the contemporary fast pace of society, and what she went through. Life, fast-paced cars, and sex. And music. And intimate, mostly, relationships with private—intimate relationships with men.
QUESTION: Well, I’m really looking forward to seeing that.
BAI LING: [LAUGHTER] Thank you, I’m looking forward to showing it.
QUESTION: Do you also want to return to China, and make films in China?
BAI LING: I would like to. I did the film, Dumplings . I won, like, four most important acting awards, including Academy Award. Asian Academy Award. I’d really like to. Because it is the movie that everybody – movies are for people to consume. And most people are the majority of people in Asia are Asian. So, I’d like to have more substantial roles, like Dumplings, or from the film Magic Man. I would like to. I’m open to the world. I think the world is very big, but very small. So I’d like to do films here and Asia and New York. Everywhere. I did a French, too, Taxi 3, in French. So. I would like to do more of those movies, which are really challenging for me.
QUESTION: Would you ideally like to continue to work as a director? I mean, are you interested in furthering that, or are you going to still concentrate on acting?
BAI LING: I have no intention or interest to be a director. I’ll only do it when I feel it. For example, some project that I know intimately. And also, I’m writing two books. One is in Chinese, is about my experience in Tibet, which is really dear to my heart. If ever I want to do a movie, I want to make that into a movie. Because when I was in Tibet, I was 14 years old, with all the girls and guys in the Army. Most rigid Army, but in the free spirit of Tibet. Because you know. And also, I write another book. It’s English book, called Nipples. It’s not exactly like my movie, but it’s contemporary. So, I like writing, when I have time. But directing is not something I want to do, because I like to be actress. You know? I think actresses are more feminine. If you become director, it’s like, more male dominated. I don’t want to feel that way. I like to be soft, feminine, and romantic in myself.
QUESTION: As you are in your real life, presumably.
BAI LING: Thank you. Yeah. I think as an actress, I am most talentful, because I’m just born that way. So, maybe that’s why I’m in Hollywood by myself. It’s like, all the obstacles are – like anything. Because I’m not from here. And English not my language. And I’m working here. I think from that end, it’s like, how much love I have. How much potential I have as actress. I really can give gift, and make magic for the movies. I really hope that the talented directors will find me. Because if the director tells me, “You – Bai, you have to jump from 86th floor, and safe.” Actually, you give your word, right? You say, “Yes. I will jump, you need me.” I’m an actress, have no fear. Like, you can see in Crank 2. Of course, Jason’s movie, I’m just supporting. But it’s the force I have, just how extreme I can go. And it’s just something that I have as an actress. This fire, this poetry. This – you know, like, Red Corner I did. I really like that role. I think that’s one of the most beautiful role ever have in the history of Hollywood, that portrayed an Asian woman. Because she’s intelligent, she’s a lawyer, she’s defending other men, that she gives her life for. Yet she’s very feminine, soft, dedicated, lover and in a sense, in a very beautiful, [INAUD] way. So, that’s my soul. So, I want to have more roles like that, so I can – I feel like I’m living a great life. But there are things I can give as a gift. An actress’s talent. I want more roles that I can give gifts to move others. And to make them see the magic, or learn something about themselves.
Paul Fischer is originally from Australia. Now he is an interviewer and film critic living in Hollywood.
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