quote Jennifer Tilly

a.k.a. Jennifer Ellen Chan. It’s just as well that she changed her name considering that there is another actress named Ellen Chan. Given that Jenny Tilly is actually half-Chinese, it’s fitting that one of her most famous films was directed by Ronny Yu. Here is what she had to say about Hong Kong movies as she was advertising Bride of Chucky in the Spring 1999 issue of Videoscope

She expedites her pitch after talking about how her agent roped her into the project:

“The other thing I thought was really interesting was when he said Ronny Yu was gonna be the director. He’s this brilliant H.K. director who directed The Bride with White Hair. There were several elements that made me think that they wanted to do something interesting. I was influenced by the fact that they wanted to use Peter Pau as the D.P. I just dated a guy in the summer who was really into H.K. movies and that’s what we did all summer; we watched Once a ThiefA Chinese Ghost Story and all those films. Ronny seemed the perfect type to reinvigorate the Chucky genre.”

She explores why people become fans of H.K. cinema:

“I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing, but I think that a lot of films in America are very predictable. Not only have you seen the script, you know what’s going to happen, but you’ve seen the camera angle. The H.K. films – I was struck by their ability to make stuff phantasmagorical and grotesquely violent almost within the same frame, and the cinematography was beautifully lyrical, the women are very beautiful, the men are very athletic and also there was a lot of humour in it. It just seemed that everything co-existed. You know – the romance, the silliness, the humor, the violence. These films seem almost epic in their format.”

She exploits the fact that it wasn’t going to be another exploitation movie:

“So I thought it’s very interesting that they hired Ronny to do it and that they want me to play a part. It sounds egotistical but that said to me that they wanted to make more than a quickie which they can make a quick buck of, although I’m sure that is in their minds too. So that was pretty much why I did it because I just thought it would be kind of a fun romp. You can see Ronny’s sensibility throughout. Even the first day when I was there, he was great with sharing the storyboard. A lot of the shots which he and Peter Pau came up with were very surreal, like when he does the P.O.V. from inside Chucky’s head – you see me putting the eye in the socket. That’s a brilliant shot, and he did a lot of things like that. I had a really fun time.”

She expands (in a 1998 issue of Femme Fatales) on how much fun that she was having:

“What I always like – in terms of my career – is to have a balance. You do a little art, you do a little commerce. When I’ve just done something serious, I want to turn around and do something fun. Chucky definitely ranks in the fun category. We had so much fun on the set. I like watching horror movies because they’re not pretentious. A lot of times in horror films, they’ll be going for more of a look. What the personnel liked was my voice. Tiffany is very funny. She’s got this white trash sensibility and she’s into the goth movement, which is why my outfits were so outrageous. She’s like my character in The Getaway in that she doesn’t have a conscience. She’s just a bizarre mixture – she’s naive, she’s a Martha Stewart aficionado and she’s evil but she’s vulnerable. She’s like an anti-hero. Women can be just as vicious as men, but they don’t have this huge urge to start wars.”

She expresses how the live-action footage was far from being an easy ride:

“It was a very gruelling shoot. It seemed like we were always a bit behind because of all the mechanics and all the stunts, but it was a good atmosphere. There was a really strong producer presence on the set. We went into overtime almost every day. Everything took a lot longer than expected because you’re working with a mechanical doll. Because it was so technical, they didn’t really want you to ad-lib much and you had to be very precise hitting your mark. Peter Pau is an amazing cinematographer, and he had these great set-up shots but they were very technical. Maybe that’s why I was more focused or more concentrated.”

She expounds (in the other magazine) on how it was just as commendably fast-paced as a H.K. movie:

“You don’t want to give people time to think. What you hope for are a lot of screams and a few laughs, and I think they accomplished it very cleverly. That’s my pet peeve with movies – they’re too long. I’m probably in the minority but I thought Titanic would’ve been a much better movie if they’d cut an hour and 40 minutes off it. I think the whole wraparound story could’ve gone. I think a lot of times with directors, they get so enamored with their shots. With Titanic, like with those shots of the cabins filling up with water, I thought that was a totally useless shot because whose P.O.V. is it? There’s nobody in the cabin, but I can see James Cameron going – But it took three days to shoot! It’s a $50,000 shot. They were very ruthless about cutting stuff out of this movie. They were more often than not like my gardener; if I ask him to prune the hedges a little bit, he just goes wild like Joan Crawford in the rose garden slashing everything to bits.”

She explains the general problem with H.K. directors working in Hollywood before specifying how it relates to Ronny:

“They have a tremendous amount of freedom in H.K. then they come here and they have the suits, the studio people, going – I’m sorry. I don’t care how brilliant you are in your homeland, I want that insert of the hand. That’s probably insulting or demeaning to them in a way. Behind the scenes, there was a little bit of a cultural rift because of the way they make movies here and the way they make movies there. It was probably hard for Ronny because Don Mancini created the character right out of college and he has a tremendous amount of creative control. It’s his baby and David Kirschner’s. They had more creative control than I’ve ever seen, more input, and rightly so – this is their character and their creation.”

She expunges any doubt that anyone might have about the bottom line:

“It was exciting to come in the morning and see what Ronny had planned, like camera angles; we were all excited about the shots and everything. It was a good set. It was a good group of people. Ronny let me and Brad Dourif have a great deal of latitude in terms of improvising. Don takes his writing very seriously but he was very loose when we wanted to come up with stuff, like the sex scene we improvised. A lot of it they didn’t leave in. The fact that Brad Dourif was so much fun to work with and everybody had a loose atmosphere on the set contributed to everybody having a good time. Tiffany and Chucky were sort of a believable couple because we had a kind of chemistry going; at least I like to think that we did.”

Like Jen Tilly, Chloe Bennet is a half-Chinese actress whose career benefits from not being credited with a Chinese surname (i.e. Wang).


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s