After films like Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, actor Jason Wong knows that, above all, advocating for yourself in the entertainment industry is vital.
From age nine, Jason Wong already knew he wanted to be an actor. His love of the craft is startlingly obvious with every role he takes on. He treats the parts with precision, care, and most importantly – heart. Whether it’s playing a despicable villain to a good egg with a heart of gold, Jason makes sure to give them his all with the delicacy they deserve, delving into their motivations, and finding just what makes them tick to give the best performance he can. With his tireless dedication to getting it right, Jason sets himself apart, and there’s no doubt he has a very long career ahead of him.
Wong is consistently learning. Not wasting any opportunity to pick the brains of the people surrounding him. Like a sponge soaking up water, he absorbs everything, watching, listening, and making notes. Having teachers like Guy Ritchie, Ron Howard, and Jake Gyllenhaal to name a few, makes for a perfect on-the-go masterclass. With a thirst for knowledge and a passion to direct in the future, he can safely say he’s well-prepared for his next adventure.
This business is not for everyone, and, as Jason explains, being patient is key. Advocating and standing up for yourself even more so. Take the chances you see presented and bet on yourself. Risk is always a part of the equation in the entertainment industry, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Don’t wait for someone to lend a helping hand, take the leap of faith for yourself. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but if you blink an opportunity can pass you by and Wong is a strong advocate for not letting opportunity slip through his fingers.
In conversation with 1883 Magazine, Jason Wong discusses his role in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, the importance of advocating for yourself, what he likes to ‘nerd out’ about, and more.
Prior to making Honor Among Thieves, had you played Dungeons and Dragons? Did you do any research beforehand to get a feel of the game? Knowing what you do now, what class would you play and why?
I didn’t get a chance to play it, but now that I have a bit more time post-filming, I’m looking forward to a night of D&D with some of my friends who play it all the time.
I had many conversations with my friends for research. However, from the time of getting the role, to heading into the preparation for filming, there wasn’t a lot of time. As I had to learn fight choreography and the Thayan language, there wasn’t much time apart from Zoom chats and D&D forum research.
As for the class, I’ll have to defer to the next interview as I haven’t played yet. So, no idea what you’re on about, but watch this space – I’ll be able to answer this next time!
What can you tell us about Dralas without spoiling too much?
Dralas is a fearsome evil Thayan warrior assassin. Under the command of the Red Wizards, primarily led by Sofina [Daisy Head]. He’s been tasked to hunt down Chris Pine and his group of reprobates. He possesses a broad sword with a magical green flame. He basically kicks ass!
What do you personally nerd out/geek out about?
F1 is one of my favourite sports to watch – Lewis Hamilton is the GOAT and Team Mercedes is the best. I’m also a huge fan of the UFC. I’ve been following the promotion and fighters from UFC 1 which led me to learn Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I still get starstruck when I meet these incredible athletes. Wine is another huge passion of mine, which I collect. I can talk about wine all day long.
Between Ming Yu, JJ, and Dralas – what is a quality you share with these characters and one you don’t?
They’re loyal and believe they’re doing right! I’d like to think of myself as a very loyal person, but this is a challenging question because two of these characters [Ming Yu/Dralas] are vile! Which hopefully isn’t a reflection of who I am in real life. But they’re so absurd and careless in the way they do things, which is the opposite of who I am. I was very much attracted to playing them. When I play the villain, I find them more complex than the protagonists. They’re layered with a lot more depth. “Why can they enjoy hurting people without thinking of the consequences…?” It fascinates me to get into their minds and bring it to life. JJ is just a good old American bro – he’s about preserving the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Looking back on your acting journey, what advice would you give yourself knowing what you do now?
Be patient, stand up for yourself in creative moments, and ask for what you want. Don’t expect people to do things for you – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Was being an actor something you always wanted to do? What was the spark that led you down this path?
From the age of 9 I knew I was going to be an actor. Then around 15 I was going to apply to join The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, but my father passed away and it took me back to wanting to act again. That’s when I decided to attend The Royal Central School of Drama. My primary school teacher Barbra was the one who put the initial spark in me. Then later in secondary school it was my drama teacher Mark Pattenden, who taught the likes of Jude Law, Idris Elba and Jonny Lee Miller. My drama teacher had this belief in me which forced me to show vulnerability on stage. Also, he saved me from getting kicked out of school.
What is your favourite thing about being an actor?
Meeting all these great directors/actors who are celebrated. I get to sit and learn from them. I’ve been lucky, I’ve had some of the best actors and directors to observe and I get to bring that experience to a production or a character.
I watch and learn from Guy Ritchie and how he directs. He’s very instinctual, changing something if it doesn’t sound right and trusts his gut to make the right decisions. When working with Ron Howard, I learned that he values every single person in the scene and gives everyone individual notes – he doesn’t just focus on the principles. Watching how Jake Gyllenhaal uses stillness on camera, the grace of Colin Farrell, the care and detail of Emilia Fox. I’ve learned a lot from watching the leads work their magic. I’ll be prepared when I lead or direct, as I’ve learned from the best.
As you continue to grow, is there a dream role you’ve always wanted to sink your teeth into? If so, who and why?
I’d love to play opposite Keanu Reeves, doing something cool. I mean he makes incredible films and has stood the test of time. Alternatively, playing someone in love would be an interesting challenge. Showing vulnerability is something I haven’t done as much on screen.
Peeking at Instagram, there’s a photo with you and your fellow co-stars from The Covenant, the caption reading it was the best time you’ve ever had on a film – can you talk about your experiences on set?
We were in Alicante, Spain. Sun, beach, and a great crew of people with good food and wine. Shooting a film with good people doesn’t always happen – but it did on this film. Jake was just wonderful to work with – he’s a wealth of knowledge. He cared about us and gave us advice when we asked. Any chance I had to go sit by the monitors to watch the other actors I would. A moment I loved was sitting by the monitors watching Jake, Jonny Lee Miller and Alexander Ludwig have this great exchange. It was very powerful. They all just listened so carefully to each other – a masterclass in acting.
There was another strong bonding moment, we sat around on set together in our resting area. We just talked about our families, personal challenges and mental health. It was open, it was real and we just got on. Our pretend Special forces camaraderie was as strong off-screen as it is on. We have our little SF WhatsApp chats. Where we are just rinsing the crap out of each other! But it’s all love. Guy Ritchie and the producer Ivan Atkinson always look after us.
Is there a favourite scene you’ve shot across your filmography? One that particularly resonated? Why?
I have a few, but the ones that stand out on film are working with Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, and Henry Golding in The Gentleman and my fight scene with Regé Jean-Page in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. On TV, it is with Emily Fox on ‘Silent Witness’ where I bawl my eyes out. She made me feel safe to do so. If I had to pick one, it’s the fight with Regé. They gave me a sword to fight with! We trained our butts off for that fight scene, every day for 2-3 hours for three weeks. Blood, sweat and lots of sore fingers being smashed. It took a toll on our bodies but was a lot of fun and it was great also learning how to do wire work.
Circling back to Honor Among Thieves, what are you as a viewer most looking forward to?
Hoping that this film inspires a new generation to the world of D&D. Get off the electronic devices and start creating and telling your stories. Bring a new audience back to face-to-face games.
Lastly, as we continue into 2023 what is something you’d like to manifest for yourself this year?
To do a film with Keanu Reeves and Tom Cruise. And to get my TV show picked up that I’m writing.
Interview Dana Reboe
Photography Lee Malone