Ellen Wong was one of the first actors that co-writer/director Edgar Wright photoblogged last year during the pre-production of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Getting the chance to speak with Wong on the set of the film, my other film journalists and I found her instantly adorable and a perfect fit for the role of Scott’s sweet-but-naive teenage ex-girlfriend, Knives Chau.
We spoke mostly about Wong’s take on Knives, specifically why people shouldn’t describe the character as “annoying”, why author Bryan Lee O’Malley named the character “Knives”, and the character’s transformation from wide-eyed innocent to a powerful girl who kicks some ass. She also lamented a scene in the book between Knives and Kim Pine (Alison Pill) that won’t be in the movie.
Hit the jump for the full interview. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World hits theaters on August 13th.
Here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet, you strange person:
You can read the full interview below or click here to listen to the audio. I personally recommend listening to this one because it better conveys her personality.
ELLEN WONG: Welcome! Oh, I’m sitting in Edgar Wright’s chair. I feel like I have to sit with a straight back and…
You were one of the first actors that Edgar photoblogged…
Like he’s doing that photo a day and you were like…
WONG: Was I?
So were you one of the first ones cast? How early did you come on the film?
WONG: I found out in October that I was cast for this but I think there were already quite a few people. I know Michael and Mary were for sure. I wasn’t too… we didn’t talk about the other characters and who was cast for what, but yeah, I found out in October that I was cast and I met with Michael and Edgar and some of the producers in L.A. in September and it just sort of happened from there.
Others have described your character as really annoying…
WONG: Nooooooooooo!!!! No!!! She’s not! I’m sure we all can remember back in the day when you’re 17, naïve, you’re sort of just this unblemished teenager. You’re sort of sheltered and haven’t really seen the real world and then when you do see it, you’re just like… “This is the world? This is reality?” And then Scott breaks up with her and she’s forced to go back to her old life? No, she can’t go back now! No, not after she’s seen what exists out there, so she kind of fights for that and she wants to keep going, she’s just passionate, she’s determined, not annoying! (laughter)
In the books, she starts out sweet and then starts to get more and more psychotic… which one do you prefer playing? More of the sweet Knives or the badass?
WONG: I like playing… I don’t know. I think that’s what was really exciting about playing Knives, too, from the beginning was that you get to kind of do both of that. She’s almost like two different people, but that’s what’s cool about it, because I get to show her growth and that’s the thing that’s really cool about Knives, you get to really see her grow up from being meek and innocent and naïve at the beginning to this powerful girl who is going for what she really believes in and what she really wants. She fights for it!
WONG: (laughs) Well, I had already been studying Taekwondo on my own before this for a little bit, so when I found out that Knives, she also got to like kick some ass, I was super-excited, I was like “Yes, sweet!” And then I found out we had to do wire training and some fitness training, so we did like three weeks straight of this training every day Monday to Friday–well I did—and I started doing some wire stuff a couple months ahead, a day or two during the week just so that they can have some idea what kind of gags all the characters could do. Then we went right into shooting, so…
And how was it filming your actual action sequences? What should we expect from them?
WONG: It’s funny, because it’s like the fight when you watch it, it’s probably going to be like five minutes, but it’s taken us like a month to shoot it so I think what was really interesting was that instead of going through an entire fight sequence, you’re doing one or two moves over and over and over, so I’d say it’s less exhausting than actually training, because you’re not really constantly going over the choreography, like the whole entire thing with everybody. You’re just doing that one part that they need in the shot.
Alison mentioned that one of the scenes she was sad was cut was where she kisses Knives. I was wondering if you missed that scene if not, whether you think that might hurt Allison’s feelings?
WONG: (laughs) I was just a little bit.. we had this sort of bonding moment where I think we both knew, we were like… “Ah, well…” there was nothing said between the two of us in person, but I think we both feel that the relationship between Knives and Kim Pine is sad to not really see it as much, but you know, the vibe will be there. You’ll know that they’re close.
What kind of backstory did you get on your character from Bryan?
WONG: From Bryan? Um… I asked him why Knives was named Knives…
That was kind of what I was wondering.
WONG: And that was one of the first things I was like.. Why? I mean, it’s kind of cool, but “Why? Why Knives? Why not like Satchel or…” I dunno.. (laughs) Okay, I guess that’s not as badass, but you know what I mean, but it was funny because he was telling me that this couple that he knew of—I won’t say names, I won’t say who, whatever—but like I think it was the wife was super-mad and she pulled knives on her husband, and he thought that was pretty hilarious so at that time, when he was writing for the books, he thought, “Oh, that’s kind of cool, let’s call her Knives” so he just kind of threw that in there, which I thought was pretty awesome, and I was like, “Oh, okay.” I can see where that aggression is coming from.
How much has your character changed from the book?
WONG: I’d say it’s pretty close. Edgar has been really cool and same with Michael Bacall, just like in the script, just keeping it pretty close to what you see in the comic books as well. I think you’ll be really pleased to see the end result, yeah.
So are the Clash at Demonhead your new favorite band?
WONG: Uh, yeah!!! Yes!!!! Love ‘em!!
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