|Credit: Ludi Lin|
It’s the year 2020 – we now live in the times where films like Crazy Rich Asians hit box-office records almost worldwide, Korean film Parasite dominating international awards scenes, and with actors of both films being recognized with accolades. The world of entertainment is becoming more and more open to diversity, something that was almost unimaginable years ago. This becomes a great opportunity and a source of encouragement for creators and actors to showcase their work to the world.
Ludi Lin is one example of an actor who gets inspired by the evolution of the entertainment world in terms of its diversity. You might have seen him as Zack of Power Rangers or Murk of Aquaman, but he has actually been starting to take over the entertainment world one Hollywood film at a time and inevitably returning to his roots in China – starring in highest-grossing film Monster Hunt and in the upcoming remake of AMC’s Humans. One might wonder how actors like him deal with pursuing their passions, the challenges, and all the great opportunities that come along with it.
All of these were answered when we had the great opportunity to talk to the Chinese-Canadian actor in an interview with DramaPanda – about his life, career, and starring in one of Netflix’s Original Mandarin series, The Ghost Bride.
On His Life and Personal Advocacy
Having seen the world ever since he was a child, Ludi Lin never saw a world with borders. “It’s all very artificial” as he says with a serious tone. “When you look from space, there are no lines found in any place. We draw these lines because some people are just luckier and want to keep other people out.”, he adds. He then continues with a powerful statement, “You can see culture as a barrier or you can see culture as a way to share. And I want to choose it as a way to share rather than use it as an obstacle. So I want culture to breach those borders rather than building walls with culture.” He believes that even if people who live in the West and the East are in fundamentally different places, we should embrace everyone’s differences “because they make us interesting rather than make us more dangerous” and at the end of the day, we are all still the same by being humans living in the same world.
Through his social media pages, especially on Instagram, it is quite evident that Lin has been advocating for Asian representation. He is glad that we are already in the year 2020 when Asians all over the world are getting recognized. We now live in the times where films or TV shows are not just made for a specific audience anymore but rather, have the whole world as the audience.
There are only three things that we must start doing in order to keep the momentum of Asian representation going according to Lin, “One is, get interesting. Tell stories that are interesting so that people will get curious and see it. Two, get familiar, have it be presented so much in a way that it becomes familiar so you won’t be afraid of it. Three, get together with it. Because you’re already familiar, you need to get together with it [create work that you can put out to the world].” This is one strong indicator that he is more than just the characters that he has portrayed as an actor but he is one dedicated advocate of his beliefs.
On Martial Arts
|Credit: Warner Bros.|
If you know about Ludi Lin, then you might have already watched and noticed his impressive martial arts skills through his past works. It was also showcased in an episode of the latest season of Black Mirror, called Striking Vipers. He believes that martial arts is completely different from acting in a way that there are people who are born actors whereas the former is something that one needs to learn to control and express in its art form.
Being raised in Canada as a young Chinese boy, bullying was a major issue that he was faced with in his everyday life. He shared that he grew up in a time where xenophobia and racism were more prevalent so getting into a lot of fights and getting picked on were just a part of an average day for young Ludi. His mom was constantly called into his school whenever he got into trouble, this matter scared him a lot when he was a kid but it was a statement of his teacher that made him feel otherwise. He then quotes, “Ludi, he’s a kid that gets into fights every single day, every single lunch time, I see him get into a fight and go to the office but one thing is, he always fights for what he thinks is right.” This left such a huge impact on him that he remembers this statement up to this day. For him, that statement encapsulated the reasons why he has been getting into such fights – that it is never okay to bully someone just because they are different.
Through his own experiences and travels, it was just natural that he would get into martial arts. He also cited Bruce Lee as one of his main inspirations not only because of his work, but how he was also a philosopher because of how he defined martial arts as an art. In the interview, he quoted the great artist, “To me, acting is about action [then he punches]”. Lin completely agreed with this because for him, martial arts and action, as long as it provokes an emotional reaction, become a very important aspect of acting.
On Acting and His Career
With his career on the rise starting from his slew of projects that include upcoming Hollywood film, Mortal Kombat, Lin still humbly reflects on his career by defining that the highlight of it is that, “As an actor, you’re just lucky to get a job. The highlights are always the moments that you find out that you landed a gig. Acting is the only unique career where you have to keep proving to people that you can do your job.” He provided an interesting contrast by taking being a cook as an example. Cooks are not always being tested when they are inside the kitchen, whether they can cook or not while as an actor, one must always go through a series of auditions and tests to prove that they can act.
Lin likened going into different acting roles as entering tunnels and being like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. “The butterfly seems to forget that it’s a butterfly and goes into another transformation to become a bird that can fly higher.”, such metaphors indicate Lin’s wit and passion for the industry – a place where he sees he will be staying in for a long time, having many dream roles that he wants to portray in his own list.
Even so, he still mentioned some major highlights of his career with Power Rangers being his first-ever studio film and his recently wrapped Mortal Kombat, which made him happy and proud that it’s starred by mostly Asians in a Hollywood film. Most importantly, The Ghost Bride is a huge highlight for him. As one of Netflix’s first original Mandarin series, he shares with passion, “I love Netflix Originals because they’re so free in their creativity. I love it because it’s streamed in over 190 countries around the world. Even if it’s not a major hit, but it’s out there, it’s an opportunity for people to see.”
On The Ghost Bride
The Ghost Bride tells a story of a woman living in Malacca at the turn of the 19th century. Everything seemed to be normal until she received a proposal to become the ghost bride of a wealthy family’s son. Based on Yangsze Choo‘s 2013 novel of the same title, the series is bound to entertain its viewers with its unlikely tale whether they have read the novel or not.
Having acted in mostly Hollywood projects, The Ghost Bride is a remarkable part of Lin’s career since it was the first time that he acted in Mandarin and also dubbed himself in English. “Now I know that for someone who does not speak Mandarin, they can watch the series and watch my intention as my character because I did the dubbing myself. And also for people who speak Mandarin, my family members, my friends, in Taiwan, in Malaysia, where the story is based on, they will be watching it in the proper Mandarin where it was first filmed in.”
With a title that screams all possible horror elements, Ludi tells us that there is no need to be fully frightened for your Chinese New Year holidays when the series airs as elements of romance and drama will be surely expected too. He shared that he had two reactions when he first heard about the story: “One, it’s really tragic and it’s really scary. Then the other side is, it’s really romantic and it’s really enviable in some ways. But in the story, it’s more tragic than romantic.”
Lin describes the plot of his upcoming thrilling series in a poetic and romantic manner, “If you promise someone even if they passed away that you’re going to marry them, and you’re still going through with that marriage. Isn’t that the ultimate expression of faith, trust, and keeping your promise? I think there’s really something romantic about it.”
On Playing Tian Bai
In The Ghost Bride, Ludi Lin plays Tian Bai who appears to be the knight in shining armour of the series. A character that seems to be quite different from the previous roles that he has portrayed. When asked what attracted him to this role, “It’s the purity of Tian Bai. I have a lot of people around me that just exudes goodness – all they want to do is help. They don’t even have to think about it. Tian Bai seems like one of those characters. He is also a hopeless romantic which is a very close part of me as well. But as I read into the story, it’s actually more complicated than that. Tian Bai’s situation becomes more complicated than that which is more interesting for me.”
More than reading the story, Lin did more preparations when he auditioned for the role. He took a lot of things from his personal background with one being a medicine student into Tian Bai, who is a medical doctor in the series. Personality-wise, both are hopeless romantics so it was not difficult for him to channel this as part of his role. When asked about the challenges that he had to undertake in the role, he could not pinpoint any specific instance as someone who enjoys challenges and “the feeling of being dumb and figuring things out on his own”.
He did share one particular challenge that he experienced during his audition – which was the first feedback that he received. Being born in Fuzhou with a Southern Mandarin accent then shifted this accent to the Northern as he has moved to Beijing, he was told that his Mandarin was “too Chinese”. He did not understand what the people in the production meant by that until it became clear to him. Since the story is set in Malaysia and with actors who are mostly from Taiwan, they all have a neutral kind of Mandarin that he must work on. To help him out in this matter, he was sent a lot of videos of Eddie Peng‘s work in which Lin found to be interesting as the accent is actually very similar to his hometown’s accent. In his own words, “I had to lose the accent and gain it back again” which made it up to be an interesting challenge for him in doing this role.
On His Relationship with His Cast Members
Fortunately for Lin, he says that he was lucky to have cast-mates that were the “greatest and easiest professionals to work with”, Lin jokingly hopes for the day that he will have “cast-mates who have heated, passionate, and hate for each other that will stir up some rumors”. He added that they were all just one big family who loved each other which made their work a lot easier.
From his words, Kuang Tian who plays the dead groom in the series, is a beautiful musician and a yoga teacher. They would have mini picnic and yoga sessions after filming that Kuang Tian usually leads and play with his guitar. While Wu Kang Ren who is the main male lead as an immortal in the show, is the set’s joker who has brought a lot of humor to them. As for the female cast, Huang Peijia and Teresa Daley, everyone wanted to protect them because of their petite frame until they all realized that both girls actually have very strong personalities and that they ended up to be the ones taking care of everyone else.
On Filming in Malaysia
The Ghost Bride is said to be the first Netflix Original series that filmed in Malaysia. If I could quote Lin on what he thought of his filming experience, I would write it this way: “IT WAS GREAT!” as he enthusiastically shared how he felt like he was filming a travel show. He said that it was his first time to visit some Malaysian towns which had major Chinese influences on them, such as Ipoh and Penang. Seeing how these towns have preserved their traditions and superstitions amazed him. He added that there were even times when they would feel haunted given the history of their filming locations which can actually give an authentic sense of thrill when we watch the series.
Why should we watch The Ghost Bride?
Aside from the fact that it will come out before Chinese New Year and that many Asians will be on break, Lin shares that the “funny parts and loving parts of Ghost Bride, you can all enjoy and love each other as a family. When it comes to the little bits of scary parts, you can all support each other and hug closer together as a family. The Ghost Bride shows an interesting aspect of our culture that is not usually shown so I think you guys will all enjoy the story. It’s not too scary at all, it’s more like it’s such an interesting genre”. Lin adds that if you are part of the Western audience with an open mind, The Ghost Bride is something that you will find interesting. On the other hand, it will be easy for Asians to understand the series right away when they have similar experiences.
With more than an hour of interview, I have to say that Lin exuded professionalism, passion, and intellect in all of the things that he does – may it be martial arts, films, or series. Let me end this article by relaying this message from Ludi Lin to all of you DramaPanda readers out there!
The Ghost Bride will air on the 23rd of January, a perfect watch before the Chinese New Year’s festivities begin!