“After I was supplied my first appearing function, I didn’t need to do it,” Maggie Q admits now, 25 years after her display debut. “I had little interest in it.”
Born Margaret Quigley in Honolulu to an American father and Vietnamese mom who had met in the course of the conflict, Q fell in love with the humanities — significantly Shakespeare — however by no means imagined she might do it for a residing. She nonetheless felt that method even after some early successes. At 17, she relocated to Tokyo for modeling gigs, hoping to earn sufficient cash as a mannequin to pay for faculty. However then she was off to Hong Kong, the place she was supplied a job in Home of the Dragon — a collection that may grow to be a large success in Asia.
“In that second, it was confirmed to me that being a inventive was one thing that would presumably be an choice in life. And that was so surprising to me,” she says. “And once I began, I didn’t know what the hell I used to be doing. I imply, I had individuals who simply type of checked out me like, ‘You name your self a expertise?’ Actually, folks mentioned that to me. And I couldn’t argue. I had no expertise, and nothing to supply on the time. It was not a type of lucky alternatives the place you develop up and your mother and father are actors, otherwise you’re born with this pure expertise. I don’t suppose I had that. I needed to be taught all the pieces.”
She discovered a prestigious trainer: display legend Jackie Chan, who signed Q to his administration group with the intention of turning her right into a martial arts star. She was primarily educated by Chan’s core stunt group of 10-15 performers, however Q lastly obtained Chan’s consideration (for higher or for worse) when he started casting her in tiny roles in his movies like Rush Hour 2 (as “lady in automotive”) and Across the World in 80 Days (as “feminine agent”).
On the latter, “I’d apply my sword work, and Jackie would are available in throughout our coaching periods and rehearsals and proper all the pieces I used to be doing,” she says. “That is going to sound extreme, but it surely’s not. He’s type of like that father you couldn’t actually please as a result of he’s not impressed with anybody. Clearly. I imply, you’d should be at his degree or higher for him to be impressed by you. So he was actually simply encouraging us to get there, however there was actually no like, ‘Oh, you’re doing an awesome job.’ In order that created a very intense work ethic throughout that point.”
After which her scene was lower from 80 Days.
However the hours of coaching below Chan in the end paid dividends. Inside two years of her 80 Days disappointment, she landed her breakout function as one other feminine agent, the IMF’s Zhen Lei, reverse Tom Cruise in Mission: Unimaginable III (2006). A yr later she was solid in Bruce Willis’s fourth go-round as John McLane, Stay Free or Die Laborious (2007) — and at that time she didn’t even should audition for the function of cyberterrorist Mai Linh.
One in all Hollywood’s most enjoyable motion stars was born.
Q, now 44, has continued to evolve as an actor and as a martial artist ever since, with notable elements in Balls of Fury (2007), Priest (2011), the Divergent trilogy (2014-16), and her most well-known function of all of them, as Nikita Mears — the murderer who should convey down the company that after educated her and now desires her useless — in 4 seasons of The CW’s Nikita.
In her newest movie, Worry the Night time, Q stars as an Iraq conflict vet who should put her navy expertise to make use of when her sister’s bachelorette get together is invaded by strangers. At all times pushing the boundaries of her stunt work, Q requested all of her character’s weapons be stripped from the movie forcing her character to rely solely on hand-to-hand fight.
In a Position Recall with Yahoo Leisure, Q talked in regards to the stark distinction between Cruise and Willis, bringing cinematic stunts to Nikita and navigating a profession in Hollywood as a feminine motion hero.
On the early Hong Kong function as a seductive murderer that set her profession into movement:
“I did this this film known as Bare Weapon  with this director known as Ching Siu-tung [also known as Tony Ching]. And he’s actually legendary within the Hong Kong movie trade. … You already know, there’s a number of well-known names that get thrown round within the West like Yuen Woo-ping, who did [martial arts choreography on] The Matrix and have become very huge as a result of they [were] mixed with American stunt groups and had an awesome outcome. However then there are different ones which might be very localized who’ve had careers without end, who the West doesn’t know. ’Trigger they weren’t concerned with The Matrix [laughs].
“[Naked Weapon] actually formed me as a result of to begin with, I used to be a starring function. I used to be a child. I didn’t know what the hell I used to be doing. And he believed a lot in my skill, in my bodily ability-slash-acting skill. And that mixture of believability that it created. And I simply didn’t perceive the place his perception got here from. And he was actually robust on me. The expertise was one of many hardest I believe I’ve ever had in my profession, even that early, however I keep in mind it formed me in such a method the place I used to be simply robust as s**t. I don’t even know the way else to place it. I went by what felt like a literal military coaching camp to make that film potential. To get a product. And I solely did it as a result of, primary, his perception in me, and quantity two, his knowledge that he handed to me so wholeheartedly and so willingly, and advised me on the time, ‘You’re going to be large on this style since you’ve obtained it.’ And I’m like, ‘Why? Why do I’ve it? What does that imply?’ I mentioned, ‘I’m not a martial artist.’ And he mentioned, ‘No, no, no, we don’t need martial artists … there’s no soul. It’s all technical. … Whenever you do motion films, you must have a hearth that lots of people don’t have. … And that’s what it’s that you’ve.’ And he was the primary individual to articulate that, which was very useful to me as a result of I absolutely didn’t perceive it.”
On her Tom Cruise expertise doing Mission: Unimaginable III (2006):
“My audition was with [director J.J. Abrams]. Tom, I believe, was there for sure auditions for individuals who needed to audition. However he was on tour selling Battle of the Worlds on the time. So he wasn’t there that day that I got here in to learn for J.J. And J.J. actually supplied me the film just about instantly on the audition. ’Trigger I believe he had been trying for a very long time. And the rumor was he had learn 100 folks, 200 folks at that time. And J.J.’s very particular about his casting. … And so after we learn, I believe ’trigger he’d been looking for so lengthy, he was like, ‘OK, that is my lady.’
“After which after that, perhaps three or 4 days later, I had my digital camera check and Tom reveals as much as the digital camera check. I didn’t know he’s exhibiting as much as the digital camera check and so they’re type of fixing the lighting, attempting to determine my face. The [cinematographer] is there, a part of the crew is there. And from the darkness comes this very acquainted face. And he’s so excited and he provides me an enormous hug and he’s like, ‘I’m so blissful you’re right here. J.J. advised me all about [the audition] and I want I might’ve been right here for that.’ And I keep in mind pondering like, ‘I’ve seen this face so many instances. I’ve heard this voice, I’ve indulged within the expertise of this individual, but it surely was by no means directed again at me.’ So it was the oddest factor to be in a dialog with him once I grew up watching him.
“Folks can say what they need based mostly on their expertise, it’s their proper to. However for me, I’ve solely ever had constructive experiences with Tom [from the get-go] was heat. It was inclusive. Thoughts you, on that film, I used to be on the backside of the decision sheet. So we had [Billy Crudup, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laurence Fishburne]. Keri [Russell] and Michelle [Monaghan] had been newer, however they had been nonetheless doing stuff, so I used to be actually just like the lowest. And Tom, I’ll always remember, went out of his solution to be sure that I by no means felt that method. And that to me was so large as a result of it’s the reverse with [most] folks at his degree. They don’t need you to really feel particular or included. It’s like that little little bit of intimidation, perhaps it feeds them someplace and so they’re okay with that and it is labored for them and that’s positive, however that’s not the best way he labored.”
After which there was her expertise with Bruce Willis on Stay Free or Die Laborious (2007)
Properly, it’s simply completely different. I imply, Tom has an enthusiasm that’s second to none. And what’s fascinating about that enthusiasm is that it’s real. He loves the work, and there’s no method you get to his degree and carry out on the degree that he does with out loving it. There simply isn’t. And so with Bruce, I believe by the point I labored with Bruce, you’re speaking a couple of franchise star. You’re speaking about somebody who has already been there and achieved it 1,000,000 instances, and he didn’t have the identical enthusiasm as Tom. You already know, he’s extra of the laid-back kind-of-cool man. And it’s an awesome expertise and it’s a distinct expertise, but it surely’s much less like, ‘I’m going to sing from the mountaintops how nice this expertise is.’ And it’s extra like, ‘Yeah, come on, guys, let’s get the work achieved.’ So simply the vibe is totally completely different.”
On the difficulties and joys of headlining Nikita from 2010 to 2014:
“It was hardest factor I’ve ever achieved since coming to the States. I’d by no means achieved TV earlier than this, so I actually didn’t perceive the right way to tempo myself. And I keep in mind that certainly one of our producers within the first season, he had achieved Buffy [the Vampire Slayer] for seven years. He [invited me to lunch] and he simply mentioned, ‘Maggie, I simply need you to know I used to be on Buffy for a few years. [Sarah Michelle Gellar] was the star of that present, which you might be too, in identify. And I would like you to grasp that that was the toughest factor she’s ever achieved. And to look at her wrestle by and attempt to simply make each episode, and have the power and the wellness to get by what she was doing, it took an infinite quantity of effort.’ However he mentioned, as a result of that present was about magic and various things, they may play with the storylines to present her some breaks typically, when she actually wanted it or was struggling.
And he mentioned, ‘With this present, we’re not going to have the ability to do this for you. It’s all you.’ And he’s like, ‘And this isn’t a film. That is 10 months of your yr. … So you must tempo your self, Maggie. And I mentioned, ‘Uh, OK. However I’m used to working exhausting.’ He goes, ‘You’re not used to working this difficult, belief me.’ And I swear to God, after the primary season, I’ll always remember that. What a present, by the best way, that he was ready to try this. Despite the fact that I wasn’t capable of take up it in the best way that I might have. … After the primary season, I used to be a shell of an individual. I had nothing left. I had no adrenals, I had no endocrine system. … I used to be working six days per week, 15 to 17 hours a day. And it was an enormous lesson for me, not nearly management and what it takes to guide a present, which is by the best way, its personal animal, since you’re coping with personalities, it’s your personal survival. So that you’re attempting to steadiness these two issues. And I don’t suppose anybody who hasn’t been a lead can actually perceive how exhausting it’s to search out that steadiness and nonetheless be sane [laughs].
“As a result of I’d come from films and I’d labored with the most effective of the most effective, [stunt coordinators like] Vic Armstrong and the Brian Smrz, I had an ordinary the place I used to be like, ‘I can’t deviate from this normal. I’ll convey movie-level motion to tv.’ And everybody’s like, ‘Oh, pricey God. So within the first season we had a stunt coordinator for 5 episodes. He obtained fired immediately. I used to be like, ‘No, not adequate. I would like my folks. I would like to herald the suitable folks.’ And I did. And, man, what we achieved action-wise was spectacular. It was superior on that present, I’ve to say. And I don’t suppose there’d been motion prefer it on TV on the time. No method, man. Not with the folks [we had]. I used to be stealing folks from main movement photos to return over and work with me. They usually did as a result of they had been type and constant and we had been mates and stuff. However there’s no method that present would’ve gotten these folks with out me pulling them in.”
Editor’s notice: This interview was performed previous to the beginning of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
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