Comic Con Interview: The Cast On Ninja Assassin

By Chris “El Guero” Mora on July 25, 2008

Hey Party people “El Guero” here with the brilliant Director James McTeguie along with a couple of the co-stars of his new film Ninja Assassin. Ji Hoon Jung is making his US debut in this film and talk about his training for the film. Naomi Harris joins and fills us in on what it was like to be a part of this action packed project enjoy…

McTeigue: Original story.  We were talking about doing it when we were making "Speed Racer" over the summer.  And we had like a small martial arts component to that.  Rain was in that.  We'd been talking about making a ninja movie for some years and then it seemed like it would be a good time to do it with Rain and then root the story in something that had good narrative and good character development, which is where Naomie came in because there's a great female character in the film as well.

Rain, will you talk a little about your character?  And why you were attracted to this?

Rain: Yeah.  "Ninja Assassin" is a big martial arts film and my role is Raizo who's an orphan growing up as a ninja assassin.  I love my character.  He's a very nice guy.  [LAUGHS]

What makes you say nice if he's an assassin?

Rain: I helped too many people, you know and then I killed too many ninja and you know it was my good experience and yeah, I love my character.

Can we talk about your character a little bit.  We saw her a little bit in the trailer.

Harris: Well Mika Coretti is the name of my character and she's a forensic researcher and she has this obsession with ninjas because she happens upon a piece of evidence that to her proves that ninjas exist whereby everybody else believes that they don't.  And so she continues with this obsession until actually her fantasy world becomes real and she becomes sucked into an adventure with Rain's character.

What led you to take this?

Harris: What led me to take the role?  [?] reasons really, working with James.  I didn't know how fabulous that was going to be until I started the movie.  But it was the script really.  It was just a great character and it was well rounded and like I said before it's like action movies generally are just based normally just on action and without central characters that you really care about and can go on a journey with, they mean nothing.  That's for you.  [LAUGHS]  That's for my review.  I thought it was so cheap to get a good review, come on.  He liked me?  Give me the cake back.  No, sorry, yeah, so it's just about an action movie basically where there are really rounded central characters and also characters with great relationships between each other I think makes a really superb action movie because you actually care about the journey that the characters are going on.  And it's not just meaningless violence.  It actually means something and it's going somewhere.  Yeah.

Pretty good.  [LAUGHS]  How much physical preparation was involved?

Harris: For me, very little at all, which was great.  But for Rain like four months of every day six days a week, twelve hour days?

Rain: Yeah.

Harris: Yeah.

What sort of training was involved specifically?

Rain: I learned you know I have a lot of you know teachers, I learned you know these techniques in Taekwondo, Korean martial arts, yeah. You know every time you know every day I throw up.  [LAUGHS]  It was really hard.  You know it almost killed me.

Harris: He's not lying about the throwing up because I had one session where they worked me out you know to kind of just know what Rain was going through every day and I actually physically threw up in the toilet.  It's so intense.  Like he went through a lot.

McTeigue: He did amazing discipline work, you know he was taught with like, you know it was really hard to get someone to fight like with two swords.  He can do that extraordinarily well.  We had like a blade and chain thing, which is really kind of complicated to throw around and besides the other martial arts aspects he did versions of [?] you know like free running and you know conquered it really well.  You know I've done a lot of martial arts over the years with a lot of different actors and he was pretty extraordinary at it.  And to see his transformation from the guy who used to drink beer and eat chocolate to you know [?] came up to me one day and said Rain's just got one question for you and I said, what's that?  I thought it was going to be like some sort of serious you know question.  He goes when can I eat chocolate again?  [LAUGHS]

Rain: From the moment you know I'd been controlling my mind and menu with you know chicken breasts and vegetables.  Yeah.  I never work out again.  [LAUGHS]

Now you're back on the chocolate are you?

Rain: Yeah.  Every day.

Even with the throwing up, didn't it feel awesome to do what you could do after that?

Rain: Very shame.  You know it's you know so horrible.  Yeah.

McTeigue: I think you're right, it's kind of like addictive though, too.  I think it's like at the point that you get into, you know not to talk foreign, but I could see at the point you know you get into that zone with your body, you just don't want to let anything invade it that's going to let you down you know because like at some point for three months or for four months or six months, he was still kind of you know trying to be in the zone.  It is a pretty amazing transformation.

Rain, how different are the Comic Con fans to your regular music fans?

Rain: Okay, I speak Korean a little bit. [KOREAN]

Translator: To me, the music fans and the movie fans are the same.  That's to say I like both.  I think it's important to harbor them both.

Do you find Comic Con really crazy?  Have you been here before?

Rain: It's my first time.

How is it for you?

Rain: It's exciting.  Yeah.  Yeah.

Was it strange having 6000 people during the panel.

Rain: Always for me, sometimes screen, sometimes you know I love my fans and yeah.  They are my everything.

How has it been for you coming to ComicCon with this movie?

McTeigue: It's good, you know.  I mean it's great to--

Your first time?

McTeigue: Yeah, it's the first time.  I wasn't here on "V" because we were doing scoring in London at the time so I couldn't make it out.  But a lot of my friends are you know graphic artists and comic book guys and so they've told me about it over the years.  But you know it's great just to come to somewhere that's completely fan-based, you know. Like you really kind of get like an amazing sense of what people love, what they like, what they don't like you know, what they're interested in.  It's a pretty good forum to bring a film to, actually.

James, your last film was very much billed as a vision from the Wachowski brothers.  Is this much more a James McTeigue vision?

McTeigue: Yeah, well you know I guess that's the way the last one was promoted I guess, which you know I understand.  No, "V" was my film.  This is my film.  You know it's what I was interested in, it's what I wanted to do.  Yeah you know it was a good film to make.  There's a lot of elements that I was really interested in this film like Naomie was saying.  You know I really like strong female characters and Naomie's character in the film is a strong female character.  I think it's probably you know what attracted her to it in the first place.  And then you know with Rain there was a good you know martial arts component.  And it was about melding those two together, you know bringing like a different form of film in the market, I guess.

What attracted you to filmmaking in the first place?

McTeigue: I guess my father was obsessed by films. You know layman obsessed by that I guess.  He grew up with the golden era of Hollywood I guess and he sort of imbued that into me and my brothers.  And once I went to University, then I started like I did a film major there, then I started working in film almost--

Where did you go?

McTeigue: In Sydney, Australia.

Could you talk about Sho Kosugi's involvement.  If you're doing a ninja film, he's pretty much the guy to go to.  How did he get involved?

McTeigue: He got involved because I thought it would be you know a good homage.  You know he was in so many of those films.  But if you talk to him he'll tell you he was only in like three, but he's forever known as being in ninja films.  And I just wondered where he was, you know wondered what he was up to these days.  And he went off and formed some martial arts schools in America and Japan so he hadn't been in movies for a while.  And I thought it would be good if he was like the clan master.  He'd be a good kind of homage back to the ninja films of the past.  So yeah, we rang him up and we asked him actually.  [LAUGHS]  He came in, screen tested, thought he was good so we put him in the film.  Yeah.

What's next?

Rain: Next project?  I don't know yet, but I wish my next film would be love story with James with Naomie.

Harris: And no action.

Rain: Take me!

There can be action but not that kind of action.

McTeigue: The next film he's in is called Ninja Lover. [LAUGHS]

Rain: Nice.

Harris: I want to see that one.

Rain: With sword and chain.

McTeigue: Sword and chain under the bed.

Rain: It's new stuff.

Harris: That sounds really interesting.


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