On the Set: Dragonball Evolution
Interview with Emmy Rossum
by Bamboo Dong,
Already in costume for another full night of shooting, Emmy Rossum didn't seem too concerned about mussing up her outfit. She was more concerned about how she'd eat the banana she had in her hand. Apologizing a few times, she finally made up her mind to tear off chunks with her fingers. Later on, when we asked her how she's been spending her free time in Durango, she said that she and Justin were always hanging out at the local Wal-Mart. So, Durango-ites, if you thought you saw them lurking around shopping for dish soap, you were probably right.
This interview was a recorded, group interview with multiple news organizations. Credit for the questions is attributed in part to Comic Book Movies, Comics2Film, IESB, IGN, MovieWeb, SciFi.
What was it like playing your first action hero role?
It's rad. I don't really say that word, but it still is rad. I got to learn how to shoot guns. I trained with the Marines. I learned how to shoot handguns, rifles, shotguns. Got nice and black and blue. Learned how to ride a motorcycle. I haven't done any of this before because I've normally been corseted or singing. It's really fun. It's really nice to play this kind of kick-ass character who's really strong and really smart. She's a little vain, but fun. It's fun.
Was that the motivation to do something you haven't done before?
My vanity? No, just kidding.
In taking the role.
I was excited to play this kind of character. She's described as the smartest girl in the world, and it's pretty cool to be able to play that. I like to do things that are challenging and different, and this has been extremely physically challenging. I'm a mess, you can tell. We're like, three weeks from the end. I'm sprinting. It's just been really fun.
Did you have to read up on the show, or watch episodes?
Sure, that was important to me. Before I went in to read for Jim [Wong] and test for the movie, I wanted to completely understand who she was. More than just a two-dimensional character, which these characters aren't. They're pretty heroic in their own ways. So yeah, I did my necessary share of each, but at the same time, I have this thing where I don't like to be too close to the original material. Like, I never saw the original Phantom of the Opera, didn't watch the original Poseidon Adventure. Still haven't done either. I suppose it's always important to me to try to be true to the character for the fans of these kinds of iconic characters, because people really love them, and feel really close to them, and know them like they're their BFF's. But you know, I want to make it my own and I want it to be real for me. I don't want to be to fixated on making all the fans happy, because I feel that'll make me go crazy. I try to take her essence and who she is in the manga, and the anime, and the TV series, and be true to that, but also be true to what I wanted to do, too, which I think is pretty close to that. She's probably the most fun character I've ever played. She's really spunky, so nothing like me. *laughs*
I hate typecasting and she's really smart, but at the same time, the dichotomy is that she's really completely boy crazy. In the original series, she wanted to get all the Dragonballs to wish for the perfect boyfriend. In this one, she realizes that if she harness the power of all the Dragonballs, she'll be like Albert Einstein. She kind of invents an unlimited source of electricity.
Did you have any trepidations about the fact that your character had crazy hair?
Oh, this is tame. I wanted to be much crazier than this, but the powers that be wanted to be realistic.
Did you have any input as to the styling of the character?
Totally. We had a week of ten hours a day of just trying on different wigs with different colors and styles, different clothes. I must've tried 30 different wigs. This is just extensions and blue bits. I wanted the bright blue short bob that's more like the signature of who she is, but I think they wanted it to be realistic. It's really bringing these characters to more of a realistic sense than they were, because they want to do their best.
Do you think it's important to be physically strong for this character?
I think it is incredibly important to be physically strong. I'm stronger than I have ever been in the past. It was really important to Jim that we possessed, on and off the set, a kind of physical inner strength. I think when you feel physically strong, it gives you a physical presence within your own body. And it really makes you feel more powerful-- more than I did when I got here, and I was like, "yay."
Is it hard being in a film where you're in such a fantastical... over-the-top universe? You sort of have to find something to grab onto.
For me, the character is a scientist. She's extremely realistic, kind of cut and dry, even though she still loves the boys. Which is really difficult for me to play...Kidding.
Whatever, tough crowd, okay.
The movie, for me, was about her journey from somebody who's a scientist and a purely factual person, to someone who believes in things that are somewhat mystical and more important than herself. I think she is extremely selfish in the beginning, but really changes by the end. I think it was interesting for me to go on that journey with her, because I am an extremely factual person, but being around this movie has made has me a believer. I mean, it really has. It's been incredible to see the kind of things the characters go through, and I think I've kind of gone on that journey with her. Not that I believe that if I get seven Dragonballs, I can wish from a dragon.
What was the most challenging thing for you physically?
Sparring with [Roshi] because he plays such a pervert, and is always trying to get in your pants. *laughs* Roshi's a pervert, that's the way it is.
So they kept that part in.
Totally. He's awesome. I think it's just the physical wear and tear your body takes every day doing stunts that are kind of impromptu a lot of the times. You know, we all kind of trained and conditioned our bodies for the fighting styles our characters have. Because my character is so factual and scientific, she's a gun person. She is a weapons expert. She's not going to take time to punch you in the face; she's just going to shoot you in the head. That was the kind of weapons training I went through. I think it's just the physical wear and tear your body takes every day just being on set. Yesterday, I was doing a double shoulder roll in a pile of dirt. And I mean, it's not glamorous.
What was it like working with Chow Yun Fat and Justin?
It was awesome. I'm an only child and [Justin] has a sister who is exactly my age, a little sister. I've always wanted an older brother. So we have that kind of banter and brother/sister thing that Bulma and Goku have, so it's been really fun, and we've had that since day one. This is the project where we finally ended up working together. Like, he's been in so many movies where I almost took roles, and I've been in so many movies where he almost played the guy. It was really great to finally work with each other, and he's so free spirited. Chow was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to be part of the movie.
Were you a fan of his work previously?
Yes, from a physical standpoint and from an emotional standpoint I really look up to him. I just think he's really cool. I admire his strength and his inner strength. He's an extremely kind and gentle person who is also completely bad-ass.
Are you signed on for sequels to this?
I'm not allowed to say.
What was it about James' vision of bringing this to life that attracted you?
I think it was his concept for this whole world and the large scale that he envisioned. Also the attention to detail that he had, and I think it was the fact that I respected him, because he didn't care if the actors had names or not. A lot of times, you read a script, and it's like, you're not going to get this because they want a huge name.
The fun thing about [Jim] is he lets us improvise and he doesn't stay too true to the scripts. As long as it feels within the character, he'll let us try different versions.
Now that you've done a comic book adaption film like this, is it something you'd be interested in doing in another franchise? Another comic book film?
Yeah, as long as the character was rad. I really feel like this character is so powerful, and just doesn't take anything from anyone. At the same time, she's a human person on a real journey. I mean, that is what acting is about. It can also be about a legal drama, but it can also be about imagining dragons. We're working nights, so half the time, like at 3-o'clock in the morning, I'm imaging something fantastical and I'm thinking, "this is my job." But that is so cool .I get to come to work and do this. I feel so lucky.
How long have you been in Durango?
Too long. Way too long. Not that I don't love Durango, because the people are awesome but I'm learning a little bit of Spanish. We have popcorn parties and hang out. Went bowling, but I suck.
Who's the best bowler?
Who is the best bowler? Ummm, Jim. Jim is the best bowler. Jim is the best at everything, though. Jim will beat you at poker. He plays so shy, and then he will come up and be like, BAM. Hit you over the head. Very surprising. Shocking.
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