Exclusive interview with Byron Mann
December 28, 2012 | Most people know Byron Mann since he played the part of Detective Matt Sung on "Dark Angel". Now he is back on TV as part of the "Arrow" cast, portraying the character of Yao Fei. He also plays a big part as Silver Lion in the movie "The Man with the Iron Fists". In this interview he talks about shooting this film, his work with Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA and his role in "Arrow".
1. You went to law school, graduated and passed the bar. How and why did you get into acting instead of pursuing a career as a lawyer?
There was a popular TV show about lawyers called "L.A. Law" at that time and I wanted to be like one of those lawyers on the show: give impassioned speeches in court and somehow there's always a hot blonde waiting for you at home at the end of the day. But during law school I realized that what lawyers do on TV is nothing like what they do in real life: they're in their offices 12 hours a day researching and writing perfect contracts. When they go home, there are never any hot beauties waiting for them! An attorney I interned for one summer advised me to pursue something I enjoyed doing instead. The only thing I remember doing that I enjoyed was acting (in high school). I was already going to school in Los Angeles, so I gave acting a try. Once I started to work as an actor, I never looked back.
2. Your movie "The Man with the Iron Fists" is in the cinemas in Germany right now. What was working with Quentin Tarantino like? What was his input?
This movie is "presented by Quentin Tarantino". He came out to visit us in China for two weeks and it was great meeting him there. Even though I didn't work with him directly, per se, this movie has his fingerprints all over it: our director, RZA, scored the music for "Kill Bill"; our co-writer and producer, Eli Roth, is his frequent collaborator; our editor and special effects supervisor are also his frequent collaborators. I understand he was working with RZA and Eli Roth during the script stage and all the way through post-production. RZA told me that he said very nice things about my performance after he screened the final cut.
3. The movie is RZA's directorial debut. What was the atmosphere on set like?
It was fun working with RZA. He likes to work hard and play hard. Every morning, all of us - RZA, Eli Roth, Cung Le, David Bautista, Rick Yune and myself - would have breakfast together. RZA would usually share with us his daily words of wisdom: about life, women, acting, martial arts, anything that seemed relevant during the day. Then we would go around sharing stories about our own lives. It felt like an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting - China style! I really enjoyed that time. Then on Friday night, RZA would take us all to Shanghai City to get American food and we would party to dawn. Like I said, we worked hard, played hard.
4. Did you do a lot of the stunts yourself and if so, which one was the best or craziest?
Yes, I did quite a lot of action. In the Gemini Killers fight, I actually injured my knee in one sequence. My knee blew up to the size of a tennis ball. They rushed me to a local hospital. The doctors there rubbed some Chinese herb on my knee, and I went straight back to the set to finish the fight - on one leg!
5. Your character Silver Lion basically enjoys being the bad guy. Was it as much fun to play him as it looks?
Silver Lion felt like "fun" to me in the script. I don't think I was trying to be funny, per se. To me, Silver Lion - once he was crowned the leader of the clan - was "coming out" as this vain, narcissistic prince that he is. I told RZA that I was going to try different things with this character and he seemed receptive to my ideas. A lot of what you see in the final cut is stuff we made up on the day of shooting.
6. On "Arrow" your character Yao Fei turns into a sort sensei for Oliver Queen, who triggers his will to survive. Why do you think Yao Fei does that? What does he see in Oliver?
I think Yao Fei thinks that Oliver can potentially help him get off the island. He sees him as an extra hand. But there could be other reasons that may come into play as the series progresses.
7. Do you know how Yao Fei landed on the island and how he got to be as he is now?
There have been hints that he was a former Chinese intelligence officer and also that he might have been a criminal that was sent to this island. But nothing is definitive at this point. I'm finding out information as we shoot.
8. What do you like most about a show like "Arrow"?
Mostly that I'm constantly surprised at how characters reveal themselves and how every episode seems to end on a cliffhanger. When the writing is so good, it's a joy going to work.
9. Stephen Amell is quite new to being the lead of a show and until now he keeps in touch with his fans closely via social media platforms, which is special. What is he like to work with?
Stephen is a very nice guy and a hardworking actor. He has a great sense of humor and looks after everyone. He's doing a great job on this show, which galvanizes the whole crew.
10. As Detective Matt Sung you played the confidant of Max Guevara (Jessica Alba) on James Cameron's "Dark Angel". What was the best part of that and do you still keep in touch?
James Cameron's vision had a haunted vision for the first season of "Dark Angel". Jessica was still a new face at that time and it was an exciting season to be a part of.
11. If you could spend a day with any living or dead person, who would it be and what would you do?
Probably Jesus Christ. He could help me answer a lot of questions.
Thank you, Byron, we wish you all the best for your future projects!
Nicole Oebel - myFanbase