Louis Ozawa Changchien and I met almost 8 years ago on one of Louis’s first jobs out of grad school – a Nokia commercial. Having maintained a close friendship since, we do an occasional “catch up.” I thought I’d share this “catch up” with the Audrey Magazine readers. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy an intimate “hang” with one of the hottest Asian actors of our time!? Read on for part two of Di Quon’s conversation with the actor!
Over the past few years both of us have been lucky to work with some great talent, although Louis has worked with more Oscar Nominees and winners then anyone I know. I asked Louis, “Who were some of your favorite to work with, beside Adrien?” He excitedly went through a list of those that really inspired him.
“I have been really lucky. The past 5 or 6 projects had one if not three of four oscar winner/oscar nominees. They are all stellar. I got to watch Naomi Watts. She was tremendous in Fair Game. I got to watch her first hand since we shared scenes together.
Frank Langella and Kathryn Bigelow in Miraculous Year. Really, I got my first taste of what a really great director was. She kinda stays out of the way until it’s necessary.
They [good directors] hire the right people for the job and then get out of the way until it’s necessary to get involved. Kathryn Bigelow had a strong vision and striking personality. Equally striking is Frank Langella who I played opposite of. A tremendous multiple tony award winning actor and oscar nominee.”
“Laurence Fishburne…… incredible. Was a really generous guy too, took me out to dinner one night when we were shooting Predators and dropped me some knowledge. Jeremy Renner is a spectacular actor. I really enjoyed watching him. Although we share a lot of screen time in Bourne Legacy, we don’t have a lot of dialogue so just watching him do his action thing was tremendous. It’s like one upping each other. He’d run somewhere and I’d chase him. I’d run fast then he’d up it and run even faster. And visa versa. It was fun.”
“Jeremy Renner said that working with Kathryn Bigelow is great, like a voyeur. Since we both had worked with her I asked what his impression of her was.There is such a different kind of atmosphere when you are [shooting a film] on location, you know. You are away from your family so there’s only the people that you are working with that you can connect with. You learn something about people you normally wouldn’t learn anything about.”
I ask him how his rehearsals are going for Warrior Class, which he has the lead.
“It feels great, wonderful. It’s rare to be a relatively young guy playing a politician. We talked about this guy being the lynch pen of the play. The action revolves around him. All three characters are equally important, but Julias is “the guy”. No accident that he is named Julias. They mention him being the Republican “Obama”.
I joke with him about going from few lines to all lines.
“I don’t know how it happened. Some reason I play silent but deadly characters.”
I tell him, “Maybe because your looks are so striking you don’t need to speak!”
“It’s much easier to memorize and work out and practice choreography, it has it’s own physical challenges, but it’s another thing to just be on stage and speak. Cut someone down and be a leader – those are intangible skills. Big biceps and a 6 pack are not going to make you a better leader.”
It’s an election year, it’s a political play and being an Asian in a lead role is somewhat a political statement.
“In the process, Ken [Lin, the writer] has done extensive research. I have done research and have gotten a chance to speak to people that have been on the inside of elections – been part of campaigns. It’s a sub culture and way of life that is unknown to the general public. It really is. It’s the interworking and mechanics of who gets elected and who’s the chosen one. It’s nebulous to most people. The thing that I keep coming back to is that there is a human being behind all that. We think of Obama and Mitt Romney as “politicians”. What they do is extremely difficult. We think of politicians in such negative light. I found that there is so much that I don’t understand, so much that I had to learn that goes on behind close doors that media people don’t even get exposed to. A lot of our play has to do with how someone’s ideals can be pushed to the limits. We live in a world where you need to know who your friends and enemies are.”
“It’s very rare as an Asian actor to get to play a character with a position of power, leadership. This is a man who is on the fast track to political stardom. I have never come across it ever. I feel like that is the next evolution. Film and TV are one of our biggest industries. And who’s to say if there weren’t leading men like Will Smith or Denzel Washington, would Obama be president. It’s like the public cannot envision it. It’s not that basic, obviously. But we need to get to that point. It’s an exciting time that a play like this can exist and be done at a mainstream theater like 2nd stage.”
You know I don’t really do theater. I would rather not have an audience watch me work (we laugh), but theater is always something you go back to. What is about that genre that you love so much?
“First of all, most of the film roles I have are action. Even in a dramatic role like Miraculous Year, the most you get is a day of rehearsal. Most of the work done in theater is hours and hours of rehearsals. Which is a luxury that you just don’t have in film. In a play your words are the bullets, the guns. Especially in this play. It’s all dialogue. People cutting into each other. Everything is with words. It’s like a 90 minute battle on stage. It’s exhausting.”
“You love theater and all the exhaustion,” I tease.
“I enjoy that, yeah. You go deeper. You have the opportunity to go much, much, deeper. But I haven’t been the lead of a heavy drama in film where you have months of rehearsal time [and character development].”
“That’s next,” I say with a smile.
hat he did jobs with like
“Yes, hopefully, that’s next.”
Read part one of the conversation here!
Warrior Class will open at Second Stage Theatre in NYC on July 23rd.
The Bourne Legacy hits movie theaters everywhere August 10.