I must thank Seth Rogen and Co from the bottom of my heart for having the vision to cast Jay as Kato in The Green Hornet. If they had not, I would probably still be languishing in Jay-ignorance. *horrors*
According to Seth Rogen, they were impressed by scenes of Jay from (I think) Kungfu Dunk, where he was beating up the bad guys over a billiard table. They apparently did not realise at that time what a huge star he was in Asia and proceeded to contact him. An audition was set up via Skype and as Jay tells it in an interview, he was surprised but nonetheless, figured he had nothing to lose and gave it a go.
The studio obviously liked him and were not deterred by the fact that he could not speak much English, as they were assured that Jay would work very hard on the language aspect....something which ultimately proved a much bigger challenge to him than the action sequences...lol!
Here's a link from JCS archives about Jay's audition:
Jay was very chuffed about snagging the role, as there were other actors auditioning, including Korean and Japanese. He really felt deep down that Kato should be played by a Chinese as the original actor had been the legendary Bruce Lee, who was also one of Jay's idols since childhood.
But Jay did not channel Bruce in his portrayal of Kato as, by his own admission, "Bruce Lee is a god." and he did not want to 'copy' him, so as to avoid the inevitable comparisons.
He had his own ideas of what to do for the role and thankfully, the studio was quite accomodating. As such, Jay's Kato can play the piano and likes basketball, apart from fighting the bad guys. :)
Here are some links to read:
A very good interview with Jay:
Cute snippet of Jay doing what he does best...with a great view of his adorable left-cheek dimple!
Just for fun:
And here is a fairly comprehensive interview with a very comfortable Jay, talking about his experience in Hollywood and there's also the requisite question about his love life. He also clears up some misconceptions about his alleged house-buying.
I'm only translating Jay's parts fully.
Interviewer's questions have been summarised.
Re his performance in the movie:
I watched the movie for the second time yesterday at the premiere. The first was when we were doing the dubbing.
I felt I didn't do too badly. It was very difficult to concentrate on acting and speaking English at the same time. But when I watched the movie, it looked okay and pretty smooth-going! And even though my Mum doesn't understand English, she was very happy when she watched it. I feel that's very important as it means my performance came across well.
Re the dialogue:
When I did my first movie, Initial D, the director told me not to be anxious because all I had to do was drive! But for this, my first English movie, I though Kato would not have much to say and just had to act well. But that was not the case! So I felt I had to be fair to my fans and practise more on my English. I spent one month memorising my lines and trying to understand the other actors.
But frankly speaking, my level of conversational English has only improved a little. However, when you watch the movie, you think I can converse well. So during the premiere, many reporters were greeting me and trying to talk with me in English!
As such, I felt that I had managed to 'bluff' the audience well! Which is what acting is all about, anyway...so I consider this a success!
I'm more confident with my English in a movie but not in daily life exchanges.
The sequel has not really been discussed. Depends on the box office performance of the movie. I've promised to make time for it if there is one. I hope there'll be a sequel as I'll definitely improve my English then.
Re going further in Hollywood
Actually, I regard this movie as more of a challenge than as going further in Hollywood, which is really not my main aim. My main focus is still my music.. I want more people to know my music. Hopefully, if the audience stays back abiit after the movie, they'll get to hear my song. This movie is a springboard, so to speak.
Re why he chose to do TGH
I felt that everyone likes superhero movie. I've always wanted to be a hero from childhood so when this opportunity came up, I thought: Why not? Iron Man, Batman...I loved them. And I also directed PAndamen. This movie fulfilled a childhood dream of mine.
There was also the Bruce Lee factor. I know many Asian actors were vying for this role...Japanese, Korean, etc and I thought: No way! This role cannot go to them. It HAS to be played by a Chinese actor...'cos Bruce Lee was Chinese!
I was quite astonished when I got the role as they didn't seem to mind about my lack of English-speaking skills. Apparrently the producers felt my English was okay! At the end of the day, what was important was the chemistry between the actors and also the fact that Kato is from Shanghai means it's quite fine if his English is not perfect.
Re comparisons with Bruce Lee:
I'm not worried about that 'cos Bruce Lee is a god; I'm just a man.
I loved watching kungfu movies by Jackie Chan and Jet Li when I was a kid; I would take a pair of chopsticks and pretend they were nunchucks! I guess being Chinese and able to show a few kungfu moves...I looked quite convincing to the producers and they thought I had some martial arts background!
Re working experience a la Kato:
I used to work in Jacky Wu's restaurant, also played the piano there, sometimes singing, sometimes accompanying others.
Re greatest challenge in TGH:
American humour is different eg Seth's facial expressions, words spewing out..I could kind of 'get' it. But I also just followed what the script said. It was Seth who sometimes got very worked-up and verbose at which times, I would be puzzled as to what he was saying...and the director would find my response very funny but natural and kept it in the movie.
But the hardest part, as I mentioned earlier, was to act and speak English at the same time.
Another challenge was acting with the mask on, with half my face being covered.
Re his 'house'
No, no...I didn't buy a house. I was given the option of renting a house or staying in a hotel. Property prices were down at that time so I decided to take a look around with my Mum, who handles this better.
But in the end, I feel staying in a hotel is better as there's housekeeping services!
I also feel more secure in a hotel, as I usually stay in hotels when I travel anyway.
As long as I have a computer to surf the Net, that's enough.
The media makes it look like I have many girlfriends! It's not true...yes, maybe during my schooldays when life was alot simpler. But not in this industry. It's not fair to the girl, who may not be in this line nor a celebrity...her life would be turned upside-down! And as for Caucasian girls (a la Cameron Diaz), it's difficult because of the language barrier.
It's better to be single now but of course, I do want to have a special love as I feel it would help as a source of creative inspiration and have a more beautiful and complete life...I'm still looking!
Re working with Cameron again:
I've not thought of that. Actually, I never thought I'd be in Hollywood. If I'd known, I'd have worked harder on my English! I just did not like studying English in school and yes, I'm a bit regretful about that now.
I also did not set out to be a 'star'...all I wanted to do was write songs. It was a keen interest and also a source of livelihood, as I could not make it to University. So I took part in contests, etc and started working in this industry. It has all been quite a series of coincidences which has me here.
Re expectations of Hollywood:
I was eager to see how a Hollywood movie is filmed, how they balance the budget, etc.
It was like a vacation...I had my own trailer, there was always lots of food available, I got my keyboard, guitar.
Whereas filming in Asia is fast and furious. each has their good points.
I also liked seeing how the actors live their lives, how the rehearsals went.
Michel is special too...he has done MVs and so have I, so I could also pick up some tips from him.
Re papparazi...or lack thereof in Hollywood:
I was free to go anywhere...Santa Monica, stroll along the streets, Venice Beach to play basketball...I can't do this in Taiwan.
Re worries about more pappz overseas in future now that he's more famous after TGH:
Not really. I just want more people to listen to and know my music, rather than me as a person. I thus don't see this as 'conquering' Hollywood, as the Asian market is big enough so this movie is, for me, just a challenge.
And at the LA premiere:
At a fan meet in Singapore...I love this one! Check out the frenzy for him and the crowd response when he holds out the mike for them to sing along to Nunchucks! Oh.,..and what a lucky girl that was who got to HUG him!!!
Jay on the green carpet gala premiere in Singapore...the fans go wild when he appears!! And he gets those firework thingies!!
Onstage at the gala premiere:
And the TGH cast having a very enjoyable time on Kangxi Lai Le, a popular Taiwanese talkshow. Jay plays some piano with Michel Gondry on drums too, whilst some guy sings Nunchucks and Huo Yuan Jia...out of tune....lol!
Here's a cute compilation of Kato's coffee-making expertise:
And one of my favourite scenes from the movie...Jay looks absolutely dapper here in that shirt and vest combo and his English here was sooo cute!!!
All in, The Green Hornet was a wonderful experience for Jay as he got to work in America, where he was relatively unknown. He could relax without worrying about pappz hounding him and as he said, it was like a vacation for him.
The fact that he was the first Taiwanese actor to be headlining a major Hollywood movie was also quite a coup. And the movie did very well in Taiwan and other Asian countries where he is well-known.
It is interesting to note that the Americans themselves did not seem to like the movie as much...perhaps because the fact was that Kato totally overshadowed Britt Reid.
Jay was easily the best part of the movie. He was cool, confident and charismatic and his comic timing was spot-on as he stood his own against Seth Rogen's blustering and bumbling Green Hornet.
He also has some of the best lines in the movie!!
I found his spoken English quite understandable and was surprised to learn that he had to spend a lot of time practising. He also had to deliver some lines phonetically, Kudos to him for his efforts!
Jay has mentioned in another interview that he can learn to play any musical instrument in two days but learning English took him a month and he is still not comfortable using it to converse!
He has said he would consider another Hollywood movie only if it is the sequel to The Green Hornet. That looks unlikely to happen, though so I guess it will be some time before we see Jay speaking English in a movie.
Some nice links to news articles in Sg:
Interview with Seth, Jay and Michel about Jay's massive popularity amongst the Chinese:
"He smells of awesomeness!"
To end, here is a link to Sunsun Jay's FB album of The Green Hornet....enjoy!