International superstar actress Michelle Yeoh joined the cast of Cinemax and Sky1's hit spy-action series Strike Back for its fifth and final season (season four for the States), adding a new level of awesomeness to the already crowd-pleasing series. Sitting down with MStars News recently, the acclaimed actress opened up about her dangerous character on the show, her fans becoming fans of the series, and even some hints for the upcoming Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel from Netflix!
What drew you to Strike Back? How did that come together?
It was Andy Harries, I think, who started it all. He called me, and we worked on The Lady together and we have a wonderful relationship, and he said "You know I have this incredible character that's evil and dynamic and smart." And I go "evil and dynamic and smart and you think of me? [laughs] That's really nice." So that was how we started and I was also a fan of Strike Back prior to that. So it didn't take him too much convincing because I thought both Philip [Winchester] and Sully [Sullivan Stapleton] were amazing characters - they brought such oomph to their roles. And I knew it would be an exciting ride, so for my first TV series I thought, why not?
What can you tell us about your character, Mei Foster, and what do you think she adds to the series?
I think Strike Back has always been about intrigue, the physicality, the excitement, the action and then the cat and mouse, the chase. For me it was like she was playing this double agent who has gone rogue completely and basically she just wants to challenge anyone that stands in her way. It's kind of liberating to play a character like that who's so single minded about what she wants to do and what she to achieve. So I think I surprise a lot, I've started to surprise a lot of my fans - "Are you really playing a bad guy?" You will have to define a bad guy [laughs]. So I think that was the part that was really quite challenging was something that was very different from what I'd been doing and what I'd done before. So it was a very interesting character and what I like about the series is there's so many characters that you play off and the one character that I do off is Robson Green who is a marvelous actor. So it was very easy to jump into the role.
You mentioned how your fans are going to react seeing you as this villainous character, how do you hope fans of the series will react to this new character?
I really think that they will like it; they will enjoy the series because it's even more dangerous than before and it's going to places that are more exotic and exciting. So I hope that the fans will be pleasantly surprised by another side of my acting abilities. That's my hope, that they are surprised because you get very caught up in playing the same role over and over again. And as an actor that's what you hope to do, is to surprise your fans and give the Strike Back diehard fans something to see.
With your background in a lot of action movies, you used to do your own stunts, do we get to see any crazy action scenes?
No, I was actually kind of disappointed because Phillip and Sully get all the cool action sequences [laughs]. I got a good scene with Robson, but apart from that she was more the mastermind, she was the one who was giving the orders. She was the manipulator and she was making the other people believe that they are doing the right thing and going off and killing people. So she was more the mastermind than the actual brawn, which was kind of fun.
It was announced that the sequel to Crouching Tiger (The Green Legend) is going to be released next year.
That's what I heard. You know I'm getting the news from you guys [laughs]. That seems to be in the news. I think they're still working, tweaking on something. There's quite a lot of special effects to work on as well.
And that's through Netflix, right?
Yes, you are absolutely right. I believe we are the first movie that Netflix has taken over. We made history then.
What was it like working with Netflix on such a huge sequel?
They were very easy to work with, to be honest. I think they trusted what the producers were doing initially and they just let us get on with it. I think that was the smartest move because the people who were on the set and who were doing the production and all that had been working on it for a long time. So they didn't come in and say well now since it's a Netflix movie we are now going to come in and tell you how to shoot it. They were fantastic; they didn't impede any of our progress.
What can fans of the original film expect from the sequel?
I'm hoping for new fans to be honest. The original was about 14-15 years ago and a lot of the teenagers were probably infants at that time so we're hoping that the original fans will be happy to see us back again and then we will be able to have a completely new fanbase as well. And I think that's very important.
You have some new cast members joining too, including Harry Shum Jr.
Actually everybody is new. I guess I'm the only one that's left holding the flag. Because Chow [Yun Fat]'s character, Li Mu Bai died. It's like the new generation as well, you can put it that way. It was very interesting to reprise a role that's so loved and it brought back many good memories and it's made some amazing new ones because both Harry and Natasha it was their first movie and she was absolutely brilliant.
It also has Donnie Yen...
Yes, we've worked together forever so it was easy for us to just hop on the set and "Bam!" [laughs] So that was good.
You are a Bond girl. The new movie's coming out this year, (Spectre) and there are four Bond girls in this movie. As a Bond girl yourself, would you like to share any advice for these stars?
Oh you just go in and have a lot of fun, seriously! Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, the producers, this is their baby and they treat everyone like their family, so you just go in and you seriously have a good time. When I was first started, I was always very worried what's the right thing to do and in the end you realize there's no right or wrong, they just want you to seriously have fun. And in fact, the Daniel Craig is much more serious though. I mean he's very intense. The Pierce Brosnan one, the one that I was in, he's so charming and it was so easy. So it's slightly changed, but seriously if you can ever be a Bond girl just go and have fun. It's really quite a ride.
Do you have any other projects that you're working on?
I do but I'm not going to tell you because it's too much information all in one go. Until the next interview, I'll have more things to tell you!