Skyscraper debuted in theaters in July of this year and has already banked close to $300 million worldwide. The film stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Will Sawyer, a disabled veteran and security expert called in to assess the newest and largest skyscraper in the world, The Pearl in Hong Kong. Chin Han plays Zhao Long Ji, the creator of the titular edifice who becomes an unlikely ally to Sawyer when the building is besieged by terrorists and set ablaze.
Han first became known to American audiences as Lau, the corrupt businessman who runs afoul of both Batman and The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008). He has appeared in many popular films such as Ghost in the Shell and TV series such as Netflix’s Marco Polo, and The CW’s Arrow. With Skyscraper coming out on Blu-ray Combo Pack next week, I got the chance to speak with Chin Han about the film, his training, career, and more.
Check out our full interview with Chin Han here below.
Geeks of Doom: I saw Skyscraper this summer with my kids and we really enjoyed it. I know you as an actor from The Dark Knight and here you got to do a lot more physical acting. Can you talk about any specific training you did for your role in this film?
Chin Han: Oh yeah. There was a lot of running. One doesn’t see the amount of running you have to do because of all the action sequences. There’s the action that takes place at the helipad and running down the stairways and corridors and then you factor in the times we have to rehearse and shoot from multiple angles. So I think the first thing I needed to do was get my physical conditioning up for that and secondly there was some gun work to be done in terms of the gunplay at the end of the movie. There was shooting and reloading and reloading and shooting and doing that on the run, diving out of harm’s way with all these explosives going off around you. So yeah, there was a fair amount of work on this movie.
Geeks of Doom: What is it like working with Dwayne Johnson, arguably the most “it” guy in Hollywood right now and sharing so much screen time with him?
Chin Han: Well, Dwayne is great. A lot of people see him as an action star, but he truly is a actor of considerable ability. When we did our scenes together, many of which are conversational scenes, we had a lot of discussions about the relationship between Zhao and Sawyer and how they are very similar even though one is a billionaire and the other is a security analyst. In all these discussions, I realized that Dwayne really does think like an actor. And I’m not a classically trained actor, so that’s saying a lot. His mind goes to places where he’s looking for the truth of the scene or the authenticity of the character. I enjoyed working with him very much. And the action sequences with him were great because he’s such a powerful performer that you feel safe doing these big action scenes with him.
Geeks of Doom: And if anything goes wrong, you can stand behind him since he’s so wide.
Chin Han: Ha ha, that’s right.
Geeks of Doom: I was reading on IMDb that you were born in Singapore, and as an Asian actor, how important was it for you to have such a big role in this film that’s set in Hong Kong and where the Asian setting plays such an integral role in the film?
Chin Han: Oh, it’s great. There were a lot of things that were familiar to me. Just hearing the language in the dialogue spoken in the film was very satisfying for me because we’re here with a Hollywood movie that has taken great pains to give a realistic representation of an Asian city. As you mentioned I was in The Dark Knight, so this is actually my fourth movie in Hong Kong along with Contagion (2011) with Steven Soderbergh, Ghost in the Shell (2017), and now Skyscraper. For some reason Hong Kong has appeared in many of the films I’ve worked in. It’s very familiar and I enjoy the place too.
Geeks of Doom: I asked you about your physical preparation. Playing the designer of this amazing building, did you go through any architectural studying to play Zhao?
Chin Han: Oh totally. First thing when I arrived on set Rawson took me to look at the production design with Jim Bissell, who also did production design for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and many other films. Jim showed me the design of the Pearl and told me the story of it, based on this Chinese fable of the dragon and the pearl, a boy jumps into a river to get this pearl and becomes a dragon to protect his village. Then after that I did more research with Adrian Smith who was also consulting on the film. He was the designer of the Burj Khalifa. I learned a lot from his insights, about building this tower that’s 200 stories high. It’s very hard to support a structure that large. The base of the building has to be incredibly large on top of the fact that the building has to built in a way that can withstand the wind speeds, which can go up to higher than 100 mph. A lot of concentration goes into it when you build something that high in the sky.
Geeks of Doom: We’ve talked a bit about some of the films you’ve been in and you’ve worked for some famous Oscar-winning and nominated directors. Is there one person you’ve worked with who stands out that most?
Chin Han: They’re all so different. To evaluate them that way it’s going to be very hard because they make such different kinds of movies. I obviously have a soft spot for Christopher Nolan because he gave me my first Hollywood movie. I think Chris will always have a special place in my heart. Roland Emmerich I have done two movies with, so I obviously like him. I’ve done 2012 and Independence Day: Resurgence with him. Everyone else, it’s been a blast. Working with young hot shot directors like Rawson Marshall Thurber to Rupert Sanders to Academy Award-winning ones like Steven Soderbergh and Chris Nolan, I’ve learned so much from each of them.
Geeks of Doom: My dad is a huge fan of Marco Polo on Netflix. What’s it like going from an episodic series like that to making these big-budget film?
Chin Han: It’s funny you say that because Marco Polo cost about $100 million as well. Doing Marco Polo was a test, because I did a lot of martial arts in that series, so there was a lot of training that went into that. It was a real test of endurance, because when you do a TV series, the episodes go for long stretches of time and it’s like running a marathon. Whereas doing a movie is like a hundred-meter dash. You start and then boom, you finish. With a TV series, it takes a lot longer to get through. That’s the difference, but they’re both equally enjoyable.
Geeks of Doom: My last question for you, getting back to Skyscraper, the Blu-Ray is coming out on October 9th, I’m sure it’ll be packed with special features. What’s a behind the scenes story or something that we can look forward to seeing behind the scenes on Skyscraper?
Chin Han: My favorite behind the scenes story, I really like the story of the Pearl. It’s such a marvelous structure. There are some special features about how Jim Bissell and Rawson Marshall Thurber and Adrian Smith all contributed to the design of the Pearl. That was my favorite special feature, especially since the building itself is one of the most important characters in the film.
Geeks of Doom: Well, it is the title of the movie.
Chin Han: Ha ha, that is true.
Geeks of Doom: Thanks so much for the time.
Chin Han is one the most popular Asian actors working right now, having had increasingly major roles in worldwide blockbusters. IMDb lists his next project as A Sweet Life, directed by Han Niu and that’s in post-production now. Skyscraper comes out on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital on October 9, 2018.
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