Bai Ling, co-star of the new action film Crank High Voltage, told SCI FI Wire that the producers gave her the role of Ria because she understood her crazy character better than any other actress who auditioned. "They said, you must see your audition tape for Crank 2," Ling said in an exclusive interview last month. "[They said] you are crazy, but after hundreds of girls reading the lines, you're the only one who makes sense of the character."
In Crank: High Voltage, Ling plays a woman whose life is saved by Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) and who helps him after his heart is stolen by gangsters who want to harvest his organs. (And he's being kept alive by an artificial heart after falling out of airplane without a parachute and not dying, so, yes, it's science fiction.)
SCI FI Wire spoke exclusively to Ling about her role in the film, as well as her unique perspective on acting. The following is an edited version of that interview. Crank High Voltage opens Friday.
When you saw the finished film, was it different from what you expected?
Ling: Actually, I have no expectations of anything. Like with Crank 2, ... I don't know the artist, I don't know the stars, but when I auditioned for the part I was flying back, and the role is not really written for somebody Asian, so when I got there and read the role, I didn't prepare. I just made her up: I was on the floor and just crazy, which was how I acted. I said, "Wow, this is fun, like when you're drunk or you're jet-lagged and you're not there and you do things that are silly and you don't even know." That's what I did. I remember I was on the floor, so I knew it was something fun.
The director was totally, totally open to me, and it's the most crazy, free acting on set and fun that I've ever had. Because in the beginning, of course, it's coming from them to allow your character to be silly and fun; if they wrote something fun, I'd read it. Then next time, I said, "Can I try something?" Basically, I threw out the lines, and things just came to me from out of nowhere, and they loved it. Afterward they said, "Say whatever you want!" They trusted me, and they wanted me to add things to make it funny. From my own life through the character, I give life to [her].
What were some of the things you added in terms of dialogue or character development?
Ling: One time I was supposed to say, "You're my shiny lunch box" to Jason. I said, "Hmm ... shiny diaper!" I would come up with these things, and it doesn't make sense at all, but in her character it makes perfect sense. Because, like, Jason saved my character's life, and from there I said, "OK, you saved my life, I'm yours." And she's like that, so passionate, committed, that she doesn't care how he responds. No matter if he was angry, he was mad, he liked me or not, I'm there. He's like, "No!" Because he's in a hurry fighting [for] his heart, and he's dying, and he says, "Don't follow me!" And she says, "You need me just like Whitney Houston!" I don't know if she understands why she says that, but it's funny, but it's like Jason eventually needs her to find those bad guys who stole his heart.
Basically we're bound together through the movie and going through the world of craziness; I got bumped and hit by a car but didn't die. The character is totally from the hood: dirty, drug-addicted, prostituting [herself] somewhere on the streets. I had these high-heel shoes, and one heel was gone, so I was [limping] the whole film. So I don't like to have anticipation for movies, because I like to be surprised, and when I saw the movie I was just laughing. It was just hilarious.