Lucy Liu Interviewed – ‘Code Name: The Cleaner’
Posted by Frosty
tomorrow is a movie called Code Name: the Cleaner. In the film Cedric
the Entertainer plays a regular guy named Jake who wakes up in a hotel room
with no memory of who he is and how he arrived there. To add to the problems,
next to him are a dead body and a briefcase of cash.
can probably guess from the set-up, the film is about Cedric figuring out who
he is and how he got there. Starring alongside him in the film is Lucy Liu.
know about the rest of you, but I always enjoy watching Lucy Liu. Not only
because she’s nice on the eyes, but due to her charisma on screen. No matter
the part, she manages to pull me in. And did I mention she’s nice on the eyes?
interview was done a few weeks ago and in roundtable form. Lucy talks pretty
honestly about how the film came together and why she loves making comedies.
So were you looking for a comedy?
Lucy Liu: Well, first of all, I'm
always looking for a comedy because I think it's one of the most challenging
things to do, it's one of the most fun things to do, and I think doing a comedy
with a comedian is always very helpful because you've got a little cushion.
Because if you're not funny, he's got to be funny. [laughs]
a fan of Cedric's?
Yes. I had seen a lot of his
movies before, and actually seen a lot of his comedy, too. But I've never seen
him in a lead role before, so it was actually refreshing, and also to see
him...I don't know, I really enjoyed watching him in the movie as an audience
member. Do you know what I mean? Like I thought...The clog dancing is one of my
favorite scenes, and the Ricola thing. Like it's all improv, you know? And he's
just hilarious. [laughs]
hard to keep up with his improv?
Well actually, I think it just
raises you to a higher level. It pushes you to improve your skills and sort of
just get off the script and do whatever it is. Because you're so aligned to
doing what is written a lot of the times, because I come from a theatre
background, and you do what's written, you pause when you're supposed to pause,
you take your moments, but ultimately, you respect the writer's wishes. And in
this case, we sort of just tore the whole thing up and re-wrote and did things
on the day, especially if he was improvising as we were doing the scenes. So it
kind of pushed me to just be a lot more open with the dialogue and come up with
things that could be funnier. I mean, who knows, you know what I mean?
have to start from square one when doing the martial arts?
Well, oddly, it's now ingrained in
my body. [laughs] It's like,
"Okay, we're going to do a fight scene off the fly." We hadn't
planned on doing the fight scene with Nicollette, and suddenly they're like,
"Let's do a fight scene together at the end." So I helped choreograph
a lot of it because I felt very comfortable doing it. I know all of the
different moves that I have learned from my other movies, and it just felt like
a very natural progression for me, and incorporated other things that I've
learned. Like, my body has sort of changed and become more flexible, so we
added splits, we added different things, and also added comedic elements of
using the toilet plunger or the toilet brush, to make it extra funny.
had never done anything like that before, had she?
Nicollette? I think she took some,
like a tae kwon do class or something. But she's really flexible. I think she
does yoga and stuff. And she's in great shape, as you saw in the movie. I mean,
I wouldn't be able to get down like that in lingerie right away in the middle
of winter. [laughs] So she's got a great body, and she's incredibly toned.
drawn to these secret agent type roles?
Yeah. I mean, I think the idea
also of spoofing Bourne Identity, which I love that movie and I love the
series, was really funny. Especially when he's really a janitor, you know what
I mean? And she's sort of undercover as a waitress. I don't know, there's
something very...It's kind of not really, you know...It's not James Bond at
all, and at the same time, it's not to the extreme of Austin Powers. So it's
somewhere in the middle of reality, which I thought was very funny. And the
flashbacks I thought were great, where he's in combat and doing his moves.
to do some over-the-top lines, like "you would remember mama..."
Oh yeah! Yeah, that was like an
hard keeping a straight face when you had to say that kind of stuff?
Oh yeah. I mean, the whole thing
was just absurd, you know what I mean? Because she's a very sassy girl, she's
very spicy. And she also has to kind of keep up with who he is as well, as well
as she's undercover. [laughs] "You would remember hittin' mama." That's
another thing about being an executive producer, you can go in there and you
can re-write the dialogue, and no one's going to slap your hand. So we went and
re-wrote dialogue and made it a little bit more urban, a little bit funnier.
ask to be an executive producer?
I demanded it! [laughs]
offer it to you?
Well, they wanted me in the movie.
I met with Cedric and I fell in love with him, and I wanted to work with him. I
just felt like there needed to be some changes in the script. And it just
seemed like a lot of, you know, getting your hands involved, and so they said,
"Well, come on board as an executive producer. You can creative, you can
get in there." Sometimes when you sign on as an actress, you don't want to
step on too many toes in terms of the writing. But they were completely open to
it and we gutted it completely. I mean, because originally the woman was
written as someone who's Jamaican. So it was either Jamaican or me. "Up to
you, your choice." [laughs] So
obviously we just sort of changed everything around and just made her not as
angry, and not as straight, but made her a little more comedic and gave her a
little more sass. And on the day when we were improvising in the scenes, we
tried to make it funnier, too. And I think we had a really good chemistry
together offset. So hopefully it came off on screen as well. Just that they
have a really nice physical dynamic, that I think is always enjoyable in a
comedy. Physical energy between the people.
think that was there from the very beginning?
I did. I did, yeah. I feel like
people are sort of beginning to realize that they can kind of match me up with
anybody. Like you can put me with Josh Hartnett, you can put me with...Like the
ethnicity boundary isn't really there. It doesn't really matter. It's sort of
an open arena, and it shouldn't be about color. It should just be about
relationships, you know? And I like to sort of meld that into my work, and make
sure that it really comes naturally no matter who it is, and what ethnicity. It
shouldn't matter. Actually, somebody pointed out in the poster, that it's a
very multi-ethnic movie. And I was like, "Oh, I didn't even notice that.
Probably because I'm Asian! I didn't think too much about it." So to me, I
thought that was one of the attractions.
other things are your type of humor?
You mean like broad comedy and
things like that?
Okay. [laughs] Nacho Libre, I thought was hilarious. There were so many
moments in there that were so funny. I like things that are somewhat unique in
their comedy, and that people wouldn't really think of. I think certain
formulas also really work. Because I grew up watching sitcoms, and like the
formula, laughter, laugh tracks...And it works for me. I grew up watching
Three's Company, and the physical comedy. There's something very, I guess,
canned about the idea of humor to me, in some ways. Like I like certain
formulas, and I think they always work for me. And I think when you add a
little element of an oddity in there, it makes it even funnier for me.
Charlie's Angels in there too?
Charlie's Angels was a little more
campy, and...I need to rethink that because it's been so long. I don't consider
my own movies like in there. "Let me, for example, let me pull up my own
resume!" I think more about outside of my own...Like I think when you ask
me or somebody asked me a question about my opinion about movies, I always
think of myself as an audience member, you know? And I love going to see
movies. They're like my favorite thing to do. Like I love Elf. Do you know what
I mean? And that's fantasy. And I loved
the innocence of who he was in this world. Like Bob Newhart, I think is really,
really funny. That's somebody, to me, is like a comedy genius. But to me, there
are so many different things. I love to combine like the fantasy with that, and
to have heart in that, which I think Nacho Libre had, and Elf had a lot of,
there more Charlie's Angels spoofs aside from Jacuzzi's outtake?
No. That was the only one. [laughs] But she is so funny. I mean,
every scene, every take that she did, I laughed. Like, because I was supposed
to come up to the window, and she's like...And I'm supposed to say...I did a
couple different things like "Get your ass in the trunk," "Get
your junk the trunk," whatever we were doing. And she's like [shows
attitude] She wouldn't even have to say anything! I mean, she was so funny. I
even said, to the other producers, I said, we need to have more of her in the
movie. She is so funny. And I think they actually ended up reshooting when he
comes into the office building and she's there. She was like, "Do you know
what being in the trunk for eight hours does to a black woman's hair?" [laughs] You know what I mean? She's just
funny. And she also is somebody who can riff really easily and well. She's very
talented. She has her own show, as well.
her, you were the girl from Charlie's Angels, and not the girl from Ally
Yeah. No, I guess she wasn't into
television. [laughs] She didn't watch
enough television to do that joke on me. She said that once. You know, every
time we had a different take, it was very funny.
have any say on what will be on the DVD?
Well, we have sort of like a
little reel I think they gave out to everyone which was sort of a behind the
scenes, and they'll probably put a little of the EPK on that. I'll see how it's
packaged in the end, but right now, we just want to get it released before it
hits pirates. [laughs] Hits the
pirating. You know, it may never make the DVD, may not even have to focus on
the DVD because it'll be out in China
like tomorrow, before the movie's even out.
continued on the next page --------------------->
talk about some of your upcoming projects?
Sure. Projects coming up that I've
shot awhile ago, that may be coming out, who knows, is a thriller, a sort of
vampire horror movie called Rise, that I think is coming out next fall, but I'm
not sure. And then I did a movie with Cillian Murphy over the summer. It was a
romantic comedy, a very small movie called Watching the Detectives.
working with Cillian?
He's great. He's incredibly
talented. It was his first foray into comedy. I think he did a great job. You
know, he's very impressive, because he focuses a lot on his family, and he's
not an intense person where you can't approach him and talk to him. Because all
of his movies are so incredible, and he's always playing such dramatic roles,
it's really refreshing to see him doing something much lighter and comedic. And
he's running around naked in half the movie. [laughs]
Yeah, exactly. That's what makes
comedy, is naked people, I guess.
theme with you...
Yeah, everyone has to be naked
when I do a round of comedy with them. [laughs]
the best Christmas gift you've ever received?
The best gift that I've ever
received? Well, it's weird, because we don't exchange gifts anymore. My friends
and I, we've known each other for so long, my family, and we spend so much time
together that we literally said, "No, we're not going to exchange gifts.
Don't worry about it." And we've been donating money to UNICEF. It's weird
because it gets to the point where it's not even about the gift anymore. It's
that people will come all the way from another state to come for your opening
of an art show, or they'll come all the way over there for your birthday for
lunch. You know, like to me, that's become such a great gift, acknowledging
that I don't actually need anything material. And I go home now, and I just
sort of see everything and I just want to re-gift everything. It's like,
"Oh my God! I have so much..." Sometimes you just want to change your
whole life and you want everything gone, you know what I mean? You grow out of
things and you realize that you don't really need things. Like if you have construction
or something going on in your house, you realize that you put all these things
away, you don't actually ever use them. Like, "It's been in the thing for
six months, do we ever use it? No. Do we need it? No." So it becomes a
very different thing. And in my experience, I've just become a lot more aware
of global affairs and global issues and children. Like whenever I think of
doing something, I always think of donating money for somebody for an
institution or for an organization, or I ask them what they care about, and I
donate under their name, too. I don't know, it's just become a lot more...you
know, hopefully not like, "Grandma Lucy is sending a five dollar check to
you!" But it's become a lot more...It's just a different thing. It's just
become really different. Because I feel like people give things all the time
over the year, like, "Oh, I saw this sweater, I really liked it and I
wanted to get it for you." So when it comes to that time of the year, it
just becomes a very different situation.
childhood toy you remember fondly?
We didn't really...And I think
maybe this is the problem, was we didn't really exchange gifts a lot during the
holidays either. It's not that we didn't celebrate Christmas, it was just like
if we're even together in one place, then that's a really big gift.
just being with people?
Yeah, I think so. It's what it's
come down to.
you call the entertainer of the year?
Oh, God. Well, since I have to
discount myself, I would say...The entertainer of the year? What does that
entail? Like what does that encompass?
necessarily awards, just anyone who has entertained.
The most? Oh, Borat.
Yeah, Sacha Cohen. That's another
thing that I thought was really funny. Like I was crying. I was like,
"This is so inappropriate, it's funny." You know, like it was so
inappropriate, it just made things so much funnier. Because everyone's so
appropriate now. It's sort of...If it's not that politically correct, it's
actually quite funny.
have a favorite Three's Company moment? Was it "the one with the
Yeah! "That misunderstanding
episode," exactly! Oh, and then "when he fell down"? [laughs]
exactly! Or when Mr. Furley "overheard something"...
And he was like looking for
Chrissy? Yeah. Don Knotts. [does Don Knotts expression] That's my Don Knotts
impression. [laughs] And then there
was Mr. Roper. Yeah. I mean, I don't know...Like I used to watch Happy Days and
Get Smart and all those things. Like those to me, I just enjoyed that very
like, "Max is in the bubble." "Max, you can't hear
anything." "Oh, Max!" There was just a very sort of formulaic
way of having comedy then, which I somehow enjoyed as a child.
a film you saw as a child that changed your life?
Well, the only movie that I can
remember seeing in a theater, because we didn't go out to theaters much, was
E.T., which blew my mind! I just remember being in a theater, and my whole
family was with me, and I was just hysterical crying. Like it was just so
moving. And the plant dying and coming back to life. You know, it was such a
moment. It was so magical to see them bicycling by the moon. And you know, it's
so funny because now you think that everything's a greenscreen. Or you can make
a movie completely with greenscreen. And then it was just, that was a miracle,
you know? And to see how things have progressed so quickly, it's pretty
amazing. And hopefully people don't take it for granted. I mean, now
everything's so action oriented and it's so easy to put things together that,
you know, you forget how simple things used to be and how wonderful they were,
you finally met Drew Barrymore and worked with her, were you in awe that she
was in that movie?
You know what's so weird? Is that
I didn't associate that little girl with her at all. I actually completely
forgot. Because the movie itself was, that was that character, do you know what
I mean? And that was that little girl, and Elliott and all those people were
there, and they'll always be there in that time frame, and they'll always be
that age because they're forever captured on celluloid. And this other woman
that I knew and that I met was this goofy other girl that had nothing to do
with that. And I think when we were doing the first thing, they had a re-release
of E.T. and it was on DVD, and I was like, "Oh my God, I completely didn't
even put 2 and 2 together." Because you meet the person in the present
day, and you know...It's so weird. I should have gotten her to sign my DVD! [laughs] What was I thinking! But yeah,
that was a really...
did dawn on you, did you say, "Oh my God!"?
No, I didn't. Because it didn't
even like...You know, because sometimes after work we have different events
that we have to run to, and she was going to that, and not until later on did I
realize that she was going to this major event that was a really big moment in
my youth. So it was pretty funny, yeah.
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