Harbin native Li Bing Bing tells Loong Wai Ting how she got the role of Ada Wong in the latest Resident Evil franchise
SHE’S smart. She’s beautiful. She’s deadly. Playing one of the pivotal characters in Resident Evil: Retribution — a movie based on the popular video game franchise — Li Bing Bing from China seems to have found her true calling — action films.
Li, who recently attended the movie’s Press conference in Subang Jaya, said she enjoyed all of her action scenes. The 39-year-old Harbin native also said her decision to play Ada Wong came at the 11th hour.
“I was working on a Chinese movie called I Do in China, in which I played the lead role when I received a call from the Resident Evil production team, offering me a role. I went for the casting, where I had to read a few lines off the script and three days later, I got their reply. I almost gave up the opportunity due to time constraints,” she said.
“I am grateful to the Resident Evil production team, who waited for me to finish shooting I Do. I didn’t expect that. They changed their production schedule to accommodate me,” said Li who added that she couldn’t “pull out” of I Do.
“But through endless calls, emails and negotiations, both sides came up with a very accommodating plan,” she added.
Resident Evil: Retribution is Li’s third English movie. She previously played Ni Chang, the White-Haired Witch in The Forbidden Kingdom alongside Jackie Chan and Jet Li and Lily in Snow Flower And The Secret Fan, which was based on a novel by Lisa See.
Li, who greeted the media in fluent Bahasa Malaysia, also spoke enthusiastically about her experience filming the fifth instalment of the popular franchise.
“Filming took place during the winter season in Toronto, Canada. The weather was unbearable. It was too cold,” she said. Switching in between the sets of I Do and Resident Evil, Li said she felt homesick in the beginning.
“In The Forbidden Kingdom and Snow Flower And The Secret Fan, there were still Chinese actors who I could speak Mandarin with. But in Resident Evil, everyone came from a different country and culture. We had cast from the US, Russia and Australia,” she said.
Language was Li’s main concern. “Everyone spoke English and my proficiency wasn’t up to standard. So I spoke very little and kept to myself. But one day, they (the cast) discovered that I could speak the language. They were very surprised and encouraged me to speak more. Since then, I’ve improved a lot,” said Li, who spoke both Mandarin and English during the interview.
However, Li, who once won the Best Leading Actress award at the 46th Golden Horse Film Awards in 2009 for her role in the espionage thriller, The Message complained that she only had limited action scenes in the movie.
“Ada Wong is one of the important characters in the video game. When the writers decided to include her in the movie, they had to make sure that she could carry herself with confidence, just like in the game. But it’s sad that the characters did not have much fight scenes. If I had more time preparing for the role, I would have asked for tips and advice from either Jet Li or Jackie Chan. Though overall, I am quite satisfied with my performance,” she said, adding that she had to go through gun training to make her gun fight scene look real.
On working with Milla Jovovich for the first time, Li said the actress “is a great person to work with”. “She’s very nice. She knows I’m afraid of the cold so she made sure that I had something warm to put on until the director yelled “action”. My character wears a red qipao, with high slits on the thigh and a spaghetti strap, and the only covered part is my waist area. We spoke on a lot of issues too — from beauty to kids and family.”
Following its fourth instalment, Resident Evil: Retribution continues with Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus ravaging the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh-eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope lies on the shoulders of Alice (Milla Jovovich). Without a safe haven, Alice continues to hunt those responsible for the outbreak, a chase that will take her from Tokyo to New York, Washington D.C. and Moscow — culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything that she once thought to be true. Aided by Ada and the rest of the newfound allies, Alice must fight to survive in order to escape the hostile world.
The movie also stars Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine, Michelle Rodriguez as Rain and Johann Urb as Leon.
Resident Evil: Retribution is now showing in cinemas nationwide. The movie is distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing International.