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Jing Lusi

British actress Jing Lusi’s career is nothing short from exciting and as she prepares for a busy year ahead.

From being caught by Superman to starring in her own ITV series, British actress Jing Lusi’s career is nothing short of exciting as she prepares for a busy year ahead.

Believe it or not, when interviewing actress Jing Lusi, her writing that she was caught from falling by Henry Cavill, (“literally Superman”) on her last day of filming Aryglle, might’ve been the least exciting to happen to her. As she gears up for the release of her first lead role in the upcoming 2024 ITVX series Red Eye, the trajectory of Jing Lusi’s career has only gone up making her the actress to watch and putting her rom-com moment with Henry Cavill a little lower on the list of her achievements this past year or so.

Whether you know her from, Crazy Rich Asains or the Netflix blockbuster, Heart of Stone, Lusi has been in the industry since the early 2000s, working with many names and faces. However, the main thing everyone should know about Lusi is her kindness and dedication to her craft which has led her to where she is today in her career. 

I had already deemed Jing as an action star before knowing she took a tactical firearms course in preparation for her role as DC Hana Li in Red Eye so that just solidified my point further. She defines her role as Hana to be “spirited” and like something people have never seen before and something she had never done before, making her the perfect candidate for this role.

In conversation with 1883 Magazine, Lusi discusses the importance of taking kindness wherever you go regardless of how big or small the project, the hard work that goes into being a part of an action film and the importance of Asian representation in British media and the role she hopes to continue to play in it. She has a big year ahead of her with the release of Aryglle and her role as DC Hana Li, but hey, Henry Cavill catching you, isn’t too shabby either.

This movie is highly anticipated by audiences. How excited are you to see the response it receives from viewers?

Very excited. It is a total feast of a film. I remember when I watched it for the first time, I was blown away by the action sequences and the magnitude of it. Matt Vaughn is brilliant at these large-scale, dry-humoured, stylistic projects and he has assembled a fantastic cast featuring none other than his cat. 

This is not your first taste of the action genre, how do you think your previous experience in the genre has equipped you for this role?

When you watch action films, the actors make it look so effortless. But of course, it’s a whole different ball game when you step into the arena and fists are flying at you! I remember when I first did stunt work, I was very uncomfortable and self-conscious. Not to mention scared. There is a lot to think about. It’s like learning the most violent dance quickly. The choreography is one thing, but then you have camera angles, and the lights, all whilst trying not to hit the other person. I am very lucky to have been trained by some of the best stunt coordinators and performers in this industry. Fighting alongside Gal Gadot in Heart of Stone felt like my graduation. 

A lot of the actors in this movie come from different entertainment backgrounds, is there anything you might have learned from someone in the filming process?

One of the most important things I have learnt in my career is the importance of being kind. I used to believe the bigger the project, the bigger the egos. This can be true occasionally, but kindness and politeness go a very long way, particularly on big-budget productions. I found this cast to be an embodiment of those qualities. Everyone was an absolute delight, and very friendly, and I think that is reflected in all the on-screen chemistries and why the film works so well. 

On the topic of the cast, do you have any fun cast memories from filming?

I was leaving the set once and saying my goodbyes. As I approached Henry (Cavill), I tripped over my heels and fell onto him in front of everyone. Like a perfect gent, he caught me and said, ‘I’ve got you’. I was mortified, but it was like a rom-com moment, me in a stunning dress being caught by literal Superman. 

Moving on to your upcoming ITV 1 and ITVX drama series, Red Eye; What has it been like getting into this character and how do you think this role has challenged you as an actor?

I was very fortunate to have had months to prepare for Red Eye, which is a rare treat. Originally, my character Hana was written as a Special Firearms Officer. I happened to be in LA before filming started so I enrolled myself in tactical firearms training. It was so fun. Turns out, I’m a sharpshooter! I was chuffed with myself for taking those classes, and just before we got to filming, they rewrote Hana as a Detective Constable. Luckily, that training still came in handy.  

This role definitely changed me as an actor. It was my first time leading, which is something I have always wanted to do, as I’m sure every actor dreams of. The stamina required, the preparation, the responsibility, were at another level. I wasn’t sure how I would handle it but as I work best under intensity and pressure, I soon found myself in my element. I have definitely been training and building my career towards this milestone. 

What can viewers expect to see from you as DC Hana Li and the series as a whole (without giving away any spoilers)?

I truly don’t think there has been a character quite like Hana on British television before. When I first read Red Eye, I immediately thought – oh wow, now this is different! She’s a breath of fresh air. Dan McCulloch (Director of Content at Bad Wolf) described her very well when he first told me about her. He said, ‘Hana is a relatable, regular woman who is flawed, but not in an obvious way’. Which is spot on, and exactly what I love about her. So often you see characters with an obvious affliction, an addiction, an unwanted pregnancy, going through a breakup, PTSD, why? Because that’s the only way people can be interesting? Those who don’t have obvious drama, trauma or addictions still struggle through their days. It’s important to reflect these people in society, and I loved playing Hana for this reason. 

If you could describe DC Hana Li in one word, what would it be?

Spirited. 

How has being in a limited series been compared to being a part of films? Do you find you have more time to discover your characters and their story and what about Red Eye makes it perfect for the limited series deliverable?

In television, you have much more time to journey with the characters and see them unfold over more hours, the whole series, future seasons etc. The advantage of film is that one script contains the full story, whereas sometimes in a television series, you get the scripts as you’re filming. This makes it hard to plot your arc. I’ve been in shows before where you are told at the beginning how your character’s arc will develop, only for things to change drastically during the shoot.

In Red Eye, we had the luxury of having all the scripts ready before we began. They were all but one written by Peter A. Dowling, all episodes were directed by Kieron Hawkes with entirely the same crew throughout. This gives the show a sense of continuity that you rarely get in television. Along with Kieron and our cinematographer Oli Russell’s brilliance, this creates a very cinematic feel. What makes Red Eye different and stand out is that it is a limited series that feels like a film. 

Are there any past movies you’ve done that you would love to see as a limited series or even a full-blown TV show?

How fun would Crazy Rich Asians be as a television series! 

Do you have any favourite action movies/characters and any that you have drawn inspiration from?

This is not an action film, but I bow down to Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley. When her character was on the job, she had this cool, no-nonsense, don’t fuck with me, I will break you with my little finger demeanour, which I was definitely channelling a bit of for Red Eye

Charlize Theron is also an action hero for me. She is so effortless, stoic and graceful in her fight sequences. And working and learning from Gal was a pure masterclass in action badassery. 

In an interview you said, “Red Eye marks a turning point in British Asian representation and I am beyond thrilled and proud to be leading this series alongside the wonderful Richard Armitage,” can you describe how the industry has progressed (or not) in terms of representation from when you first started out to now?

The industry has come a very long way, and I feel very privileged to be part of this shift. When I first started off as an actor in the late 2000s, I didn’t think I’d see an Asian woman lead a mainstream television series, let alone one that wasn’t set in a brothel, a takeaway or Asia. Those were the only parts available to me back then, and as a law graduate and the child of academics, I was disappointed and hurt to see Asians being depicted only in this way. Fortuitously, I found myself portraying young professionals, such as doctors, detectives, and businesswomen and escaped the pigeonhole that I was being forced into. What I thought was lacking was a balanced representation. Growing up, I wasn’t seeing Asians outside of being sex workers, chasing visas or yelling in broken English in a dingy kitchen. This for sure had a detrimental impact on how I saw myself, and my self-esteem.  

Crazy Rich Asians began to change everything. We all knew we were making history during filming. And it opened the floodgates to a catalogue of Asian-led films and television that have been wildly both critically and commercially successful. The Farewell. Searching. Hustlers. Everything Everywhere All at Once. Beef. 

They are all American, however. I think progress has been made in terms of Asian representation in the UK, but we have significant catching up to do. I am delighted that a show like Red Eye has been made, and I hope it will mark a turning point. 

What kind of role would you be interested in playing in future projects?

Comedies, romantic comedies, anything that is funny, for the love of god! I said to my agents after wrapping Red Eye that I must do something that has comedy. I love the intensity of a thriller or a dramatic piece, but I love to laugh and joke about it. We had non-stop banter on the set of Red Eye, it was like summer camp on a plane. Then someone shouts, ‘Action!’ and we go into serious mode for a few seconds, discuss MI5 and conspiracy theories in hushed voices, and upon ‘Cut!’, we get back to the jokes again. So I think, why not put a camera on that? 

Argylle is out now in theatres.

Interview Dream Homer
Photography Klara Waldberg

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