Interview: Actor Bai Ling

Bai LingBeautiful Chinese-born American actress Bai Ling has been making her mark on the screens large and small for the past two decades in such high-profile productions as The Crow, Anna and The King, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Wild Wild West.

Disc Dish spoke to Ms. Ling upon the  Blu-ray and DVD release of the 2009 Jason Statham action-thriller vehicle Crank 2: High Voltage from Lionsgate.  She proved to be a lively, provocative interview, particularly when discussing her directorial debut, the autobiographical film Nipples: Pieces of my Dreams, which has yet to be released.

Check it out!

Disc Dish: Hi Bai! First off, I’ve got to tell you, we’ve been big fans of yours ever since we saw you in the movie Red Corner back in 1997.

Bai Ling: Thank you so much. It was a beautiful film and a beautiful role filled with so much beauty.

DD: That’s a lot of beauty there! And that was quite a while ago and you’ve done so much work since then. Over the past decade or so, you’ve become quite a proficient action and adventure heroine, with lots of guns and fighting and running and jumping and so on….It’s must feel like a second childhood—except for the guns part.

Bai Ling: A second childhood—I like that. Well, like a wild child, with everything I do, I want to have fun!

DD: You’re known for being a very lively person both on the screen and off and it definitely shows in Crank 2, where I understand you did all your own stunts.

Crank 2: High Voltage movie scene

Bai Ling goes for her guns in Crank 2: High Voltage!

Bai Ling: Yeah! I think I’m known as an adventuress. Even generally in life, I have no fear. It’s not that I’m not afraid of things, but when I am afraid of something, I don’t back away–I approach it and try to understand what makes me afraid. When you’re challenged, you’re totally alive and totally dealing with reality, particularly if it could be dangerous. And that excites me!

DD: How did the producers of Crank 2 feel about your adventurous spirit, particularly when you get yourself into an action scene or stunt situation where you might get hurt?

Bai Ling: I indulged the wild child inside of me—the one that’s not aware of danger or fear–for the purity of existence for that character in that film. Of course, behind me they’re saying, ‘She’s crazy!’ We had a stunt double for me for Crank 2 and she was losing all this weight to look like me. After two weeks of the double losing weight and training every day, I decided that I wanted to do the stunts, and they let me. I did one car stunt where I almost smashed my face into the pavement and said to myself, ‘Wow, that was dangerous!’

DD: How did you like handling all those guns?

Bai Ling: The guns were so heavy and I’m kind of tiny, so it was difficult. When the bullets came out of the gun, I could barely hold it. The directors and gun men told me very carefully how to do certain things, but I think I did everything just the opposite from what they told me to do. It was so much fun, though. I’ve never really had a chance to act that free and crazy!

DD: How was your experience working with Jason Statham?

Bai Ling: Jason has got a wonderful quality about him—he’s very real. He’ll do anything he can to help you if you’re having problems with anything. And he’s such a serious actor—he’ll do anything for his work. That’s something I really respect about him.

DD: And how about your co-star Amy Smart? Did you enjoy filming the cat-fight scene with her?

Bai Ling: Amy is very down-to-earth and has a sweet quality that I like. The fight scene was fun—we did it many times. I would say to her, “Hit me!” and she wouldn’t hit me hard enough, so I would call her a bitch and then she would hit harder! Girl fighting is always fun in a film—it’s great to get down on the ground and just fight! And the audience always enjoys it!

DD: You’ve taken on so many provocative roles over the past several years—you were a futuristic assassin in The Gene Generation and a peep show girl in Edmond, and in the upcoming Love Ranch, you play a prostitute at a Nevada brothel run by Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci. You’re obviously very game and open when it comes to taking on a lot of over-the-top parts that may require nudity or sex scenes or violence and all that it entails.

Bai Ling: I think I’m open to adventures and surprises. As a performer, I’m really just naturally talented. And those roles may not look as good on paper, but I know how to create them on screen. I like to have fun and interpret my roles in my own way.

DD: Are you at all interested in getting behind the camera yourself and directing a film?

Bai Ling: I’m actually working on my own film called Nipples: Pieces of my Dreams. I wrote it, shot it, directed it and star in it. It’s a very sexy, intimate, provocative movie about contemporary life in the fast paced world of high society. I’m still working on it and I haven’t had time to finish it. I don’t think I want to be a [full-time] producer and director. What I like about being an actress is that it keeps you feminine. Being a director and producer makes you manly and very masculine and I don’t like that quality in a woman. But I’ll do it when the film is very close to me.

DD: And Nipples is close to you.

Bai Ling: It is. It’s kind of like magical realism—it takes real life into a fantasy land and mixes them together, but with a woman’s perspective. Sort of like the book 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

DD: Wow, it sounds like a real artistic and sexy piece. And quite personal.

Bai Ling: Oh yes. It’s very, very personal.

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.