mardi 28 juillet 2009


Before gaining her fame in Hollywood with US blockbusters like “Mission: Impossible III” (2006) and “Die Hard 4.0” (2007), Maggie Q was already a star in Hong Kong, where she played in several movies since 2000, including Ching Siu-tung’s “exploit-action” movie “Naked Weapon” (2002). The following interview was made in Hong Kong in 2004 at the Drop, a club owned by Colette Koo, producer of “Taped” (photo below by Morgan Ommer), a short erotic drama directed by Antony Szeto (“Wushu”) that Maggie Q shot the year before ...

Frédéric Ambroisine: Is Maggie Q your real name ?

Maggie Q: That’s not my real name actually. My surname is Quigley which is Irish, because my father is Irish and my mother is Vietnamese. When I first landed in Hong Kong, people couldn’t pronounce it correctly, so they shortened it to Q, and after that everybody followed suit and that’s how it happened.

FA: Why did you come to Hong Kong to start your career?

MQ: Hmm. I didn’t have to come to Hong Kong to start my career, funnily enough. I was going to university in Hawaii. Simply I couldn’t really make any money. I was going to school. I was working retail. I was an athlet as well at school. It was very difficult to make enough money to be able to fund my schooling, to be able to pay the rent. So I left for two months because I had a few friends who were models in Hawaii. Very beautiful girls. And they used to come to Asia all the time to work. They said to me: “Why don’t you try it?”. And I was like: “But I’m not a model! I don’t know what to do!”. And they said: “Maggie, you don’t have any option. You don’t have money. Why don’t you just try it?” . So I ended up coming here (in Hong Kong) just to try for two months. And it’s been five years now. I spent a very little time modeling actually, it was about a year. And I didn’t like modelling to be honest. It was something that led me to something that I love. And I’m very thankful to it for that. But I honestly believed that It was a stepping stone. Modelling got me into the industry, but very soon after, I started working for television.

Maggie Q at the Drop (Hong Kong - 2004)

FA: When did you become an actress?

MQ: In 1998. I did my first TV series in Beijing, and I was there for four months filming. Then, when I got back from that, I got my first movie offer, with a company called Media Asia, which is one of the biggest film company in Hong Kong, and I started doing action films. I was signed by Jackie Chan’s company upon signing for “Gen Y Cops”. Because I was sporting, they thought it would a good idea for me to do action. Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of action ! But I kind of want to stay out of it and do different things.

FA: Did you learn Chinese when you were young ?

MQ: Oh, of course not, I didn’t know a word. It was kind of, for survival reasons, I had to pick it up.

FA: Before “Gen Y Cops”, you played in “Model From Hell”. How was this first acting experience in a feature film?

MQ: Ha ha ha. That was horrible! There’s an actor in Hong Kong called Simon Yam, who’s actually my friend’s husband. And he was supposed to do this film. And it was a very low budget, nothing sort of thing. And for some reasons, they wanted me to do it. I wasn’t really sure, and he said: “Oh, if you do it, I’ll do it. It’s a lot of fun. It’ll be a few weeks. It’s no big deal”. And it was more money than I ever made in modelling. So I thought: “I guess I’ll just try it”. I didn’t want to try it because I wanted to get into movies. It was just something, so I did it. It was an odd experience. I wouldn’t say it was a great experience, but It was great working with Simon. He’s a very generous and nice guy. I had a good time. I didn’t really fall in love with films or acting until 2000. I did a movie in 2000 in New York (“Manhattan Midnight”) that really made me feel that, this is what I was meant to do, instead of something that I was just doing.

Simon Yam and Maggie Q in "Model From Hell" (2000)

FA: So “Model from Hell” was your first Cantonese movie, right?

MQ: Yeah, so that was very difficult because at that time, I didn’t know anything. And they ended up dubbing me. But I still had to speak on the set, because otherwise none of the other actors would understand me. And it was really frustrating. It’s always hard to be working in a place that you’re not from. Because you’re sort in the business but not really, you know. It’s confusing at times. I didn’t want to disappoint anynone. I tried the best I could. The script was written in Cantonese, and I had a tranlator who translated it into English. And I had to tranlate it back phonetically into Chinese because obviously, I can’t read Chinese characters. It was so difficult, I can’t even tell you! It remains difficult until today but I’m lucky we do have movie companies in Hong Kong who are doing more international movies.

FA: “Gen Y-Cops”, your second movie was completely different?

MG: Yeah, That's right. It was a big budget movie, very different from the first one. It was a real movie ! [Laughs.]

FA: Did you meet Jackie Chan before playing in the movie ?

MQ: Actually they met me before I started acting. I’ve worked for some famous singers and actors in Hong Kong doing campains and things like that. And I guess because they were really famous, since I was standing next to them, people were like “Oh, who is that girl?”. They didn’t really know who I was, but people started knowking my name, and that’s when they got interested and said: “Oh, maybe this girl is something, maybe you should sign her?”. And actually, Jackie and my manager Willie Chan asked me to sign with them. And initially I said no. It was the opposite of maybe a normal person would have react.ed Somebody else would have been very exited: "Oh, he want me to sign with him. Of course I’ll work with him”, but I didn’t have that confidence. I needed to be at a certain level to work with them, and I knew I wasn’t. yet I mean, I had no experience! So I though:t “I don’t want to disappoint him, If I disappoint him that’s it for me!” (laughs). 6 to 8 months later, Media Asia said: “Hey look, we really want you to do this movie, It’s gonna be an American Hong Kong co-production, and we think you’re perfect for it”. So I told them: “If people start offering me things, I’d love to sign with you but until that time, there’s really no reason for me to sign with a management company because nobody wants me”. And they were like: “Ok, I guess so”. So when that movie came out, we decided to sign.

FA: How long was the shooting of “Gen-Y Cops” ?

MQ: It was up to 5 months, because there was a lot of action, a lot of CG. We had a robot in the film, which technically was very difficult. But it was such a great experience, because we had American actors on the set. We had young Hong Kong actors, myself who was neither, from here, nor there. And it was just a quite eclectic mix of young people. And we had fun with it. It wasn’t a very serious movie but we just wanted to do something young and something fun, and something with that we can catch young people’s eyes. And that’s what we did.

The young cast of "Gen-Y Cops" (2000)

FA: How was your working relationship with the film crew?

MQ: When I started that film, it was funny because some of the producers said: “Oh God, here comes this model on the set! Oh no, what will we gonna do? She’s not gonna be able to act etc.” And when we started working, I really tried my best, and It was from that film that I was offered other films. No matter what I do, whether I’m good or bad at it, because I’m doing it , there’s a certain little dedication, which is full. So I worked hard and I guess it paid off. Because after that, it really started rolling for me.

Anya and Maggie Q in Ching Siu-tung's "Naked Weapon" (2002)

End of part 1. Coming soon: Maggie Q about “Naked Weapon”

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