Lucy Liu looks back on 30 years in Hollywood

“I remember everything,” Liu says of her salad days, “the rehearsals, the people, and how alive I felt. It felt like I could finally be who I was meant to be.”

Thirty years in the industry may feel like an achievement in its own right, but certain moments have put it all into perspective. Liu recalls the moment her star was unveiled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in May 2019, becoming only the second Asian-American actress to receive the honor after Anna May-Wong, the breakthrough star of the silent era, who shared hers Walk of Fame star received in 1960.

Liu celebrates her Best Villain Award for her role as O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards.

Liu celebrates her Best Villain Award for her role as O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards.Credit:AP

“I remember standing there being so shocking because you were like, ‘How did I get here in the first place?’ It was almost like I went through a portal, like I picked something out of my imagination or some kind of dream and just went in,” she says.

“I’m so proud of the things I’ve created and what I’ve been able to share and what I’ve become as a person, that I’ve been able to challenge myself and learn and kind of understand what it’s like to be in to really have fun in this world that I get to play in.”

That Liu’s A-list career was forged at a time when opportunities for Asian actors were still limited in Hollywood, in the years before “diversity” and “representation” were distant buzzwords, still feels remarkable. In a guest comment published in the Washington Post In 2019, she wrote, “I’m fortunate to have shifted the needle a bit with some mainstream success, but it’s limited and there’s much more to come… It’s not easy to shake off nearly 200 years of reducing imagery and condescension.” .”

Liu has been in the acting business for 30 years.

Liu has been in the acting business for 30 years. “I’m so proud of the things I’ve created,” she says.Credit:Getty Images Europe

She criticized reviews describing her role kill Bill, for example with racist terms such as “Dragon Lady”. “When I can’t play certain roles because mainstream Americans still see me as an Other, and I don’t want to just be cast in ‘typically Asian’ roles because they reinforce stereotypes, I start closing the walls of the metaphorical We box feel AAPI women (Asian and Pacific Islander) stepping in,” she wrote at the time.

In a Hollywood now seeing the box office potential of films such as Crazy rich Asians And Everything everywhere at onceis she excited about the opportunities that seem to have opened up in recent years since she first broke such barriers for actors of Asian descent?

“There’s definitely more opportunity for Asian actors, but I also think there’s still a sense of pressure around diversity: that these are just boxes that need to be ticked, or that there are levels that need to be ticked off [studios] must achieve to pass a test,” says Liu. “Unfortunately it is necessary, but I hope that at some point it will just be a matter of course. It will be a real hit when that happens.”

Hear a recent interview with newly Oscar-winning actor Ke Huy Quan Everything everywhere at onceI was struck by his explanation of his two-decade break from acting that it was only after Crazy rich Asians came out that he realized there might be a chance for him to get back into his craft. It seems ridiculous, even tragic, that such a popular actor should be included in 80’s classics The Goonies And Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomHe had to wait for a movie to come out five years ago to feel like there might finally be a place for him on that big screen. But Liu sees an artistic victory in Quan’s story.

“He started as a kid so the opportunities that were offered to him were probably doubly limited. But what ultimately wins is that he had a passion for it, there was something that nagged at him and pulled him back. I think that’s a must listen, you know? It has to come from within, it has to be genuine and it has to be an honest emotion about what you love to do and what you want to do.”

Liu with her Shazam co-star Zachary Levi at Comic-Con in San Diego last July.

Liu with her Shazam co-star Zachary Levi at Comic-Con in San Diego last July.Credit:Performance

With a seven-year-old son, a successful career in the fine arts (she works in oil painting, collage and photography, and has exhibited her work in numerous international galleries), and her Hollywood hype well on her mind, Liu is increasingly picky about what she chooses to act. Besides that Shazam!She recently completed work on the upcoming Netflix series A man in perfectiondirected by Regina King and written by David E. Kelley, creator of Ally McBealthe series that first made her a household name.

“I’m obviously an admirer of his — he’s so prolific and he really knows how to write for women — and he wrote this incredible role that really kickstarted my career,” says Liu of Kelley. “But I think for me now it’s kind of like time management: do I really want to spend that much time on it? Is it something I’ve done before? will i enjoy it I really need to think about this.

“But if I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t do it anymore. And I haven’t stopped wanting to be in this world. So if one day I wake up and don’t want it anymore, I will definitely stop.”

Shazam! wrath of the gods starts in cinemas on Thursday.

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Jaclyn Diaz

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