I recently got the chance to talk to Louis Ozawa Changchien about his role in the newest instalment of the Jason Bourne franchise, ‘The Bourne Legacy’. Here, Louis talks about how he got involved in the project in the first place and how he got into acting in the first place…
Hey Louis. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘The Bourne Legacy’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
I’m not sure how much I can talk about the plot, everything you could want to know is online anyway. All I can say is that the plot has thickened. It’s not just about Jason Bourne anymore. There are other programs like Treadstone and these guys don’t mess around.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I’m not at liberty to talk about this. I could get in trouble. However, you can see a clip of the motorcycle chase scene that has been posted online by the studio. I’m the guy who’s not Renner or Weisz. I think it’s safe to say I’m not an office nerd, doctor, or scientist.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I’d originally auditioned for a smaller role, but some of the people at Universal had seen ’Predators’ and lobbied to get me on this movie. Also, Amelia Rasche, the casting associate on this flick actually read that last part of my resume that I always assumed no one reads; the section titled Special Skills! At the very end I indicate that I have a motorcycle license. Big thanks to Amelia for being so thorough.
Coincidentally, I’m performing in a play right now with her father, David Rasche. What a small world we live in. But ultimately, it was Tony’s decision. We had a quite a few meetings. He wanted to be damn sure I was up to the task physically and mentally. I have to thank him, for believing in me.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
‘The Bourne Legacy’ is unique in that it’s epic both in its visual style and it’s story telling. Robert Elswit, brings a larger less claustrophobic vision to the cinematography. In the script you get a sense of how far-reaching the system is. There are a lot of characters in this film. And for the first time, the world has expanded into southeast Asia. Europe is a wonderful back drop, but the real world of espionage exists everywhere. Manila is an extremely photogenic city.
The film stars Jeremy Renner, Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Donna Murphy, Joan Allen and Albert Finney – with Tony Gilroy onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
I shot exclusively in Manila with only Jeremy and Rachel. The shooting schedule was pretty grueling, but on our few days off we had some good times. I’d rather not go into detail. But…. I can share a funny anecdote from my first day on set.
I arrived carrying a bag filled with athletic gear, and walked up to the crafts service table, to make myself an espresso. Peter Marshak, the indispensable head of feeding the cast and crew, mumbled what I thought sounded like, “Would you like an Espresso?”.
The following dialogue ensued:
Me: “Sure, that would be lovely.”
Peter: “Well then get to it?”
Me: “Ok, I guess I can make it myself.”
Peter: “Then fix it?”
Peter: “Well aren’t you the espresso machine repair guy?”
Me: “No…. I’m one of the actors. Did you just assume I was here to fix it, cause I’m Asian?”
Peter: “Well, we are in Manila!”
I guess he had said, “Thank god, you are here to FIX the espresso machine!”. I laughed my ass off when one of the production assistants gently pointed out that I was one of the leads in the film. Peter and I are still good friends. And it’s been an on-going joke, he still calls me the espresso guy. I still call him a racist jerk.
Let’s talk a bit about you Louis. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I love movies. Always have. Pretty simple. Then I discovered theater. Fell in love with it. Went to conservatory for theater. Ironically, I rarely have time for plays these days, but I love getting back to the stage every now and then. I live in New York, so I guess I get the best of both worlds.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Be patient. Keep working hard at being the best you can be. And get a life. Life will pass by, if you are too serious about this profession. The quicker you realize how little control you have over you “career”, the better. Focus on the important things, like your family and friends. There is nothing lonelier than being an out of work actor with no friends or family.
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV series – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
Too many to mention but off the top of my head: Jeremy Renner, Adrien Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, Walton Goggins, Rachel Weisz and Laurence Fishburne. Top shelf people.
Renner, is for real. What you see on screen is him. Great guy to hang out with. Tremendous acting talent, and a phenomenal athlete.
Brody, is a New York kid like me. Definitely the guy I see most. We bonded on ‘Predators’. It was my first big movie, and he really took me under his wing.
Alice, was the first person I met on ’Predators’. By the time we got off the 11 hour flight to Hawaii we were fast friends. We used to hang a lot in NY and LA but she lives in Brazil now. I barely get to see her anymore. I miss her. I miss the cast of ’Predators’. It was a special experience. We’d spend all day every day for the first month working on set, hitting the gym and wrapping up the day with a dinner after.
Rachel Weisz is such an intelligent lady with an even bigger heart. Tremendous actor. She’s wonderful in ’Bourne’.
And nobody I’ve met has more stories than Fishburne. He’s definitely a role model for me. He only worked a week on ‘Predators’ but we were all in awe. I think he tells this one a lot, but he once mentioned being mistaken by a homeless guy. I think the gentleman said something like: “That’s my man! Samuel motherfuckin’ Jackson!”. I don’t see him often, but whenever I see Fishburne, we have a laugh when I greet him with, “That’s my man! Samuel MF Jackson.”
I think my greatest story involves the actress Jackie Chung. We met at an audition for a short film. We were paired up to be a newly-wed arranged couple. We hit it off so well, the director, who ended up casting us, asked if we knew each other already. I’d never seen her in my life. What can I say, lightning struck. I was smitten. We fell in love. The director will be marrying us January 12, 2013.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Das Racist, The Arcade Fire, and the Black Keys are on pretty heavy rotation right now.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp and Genghis Khan. What a party that would be!
On your off-days, how do you like to kick back and relax?
I don’t have much time to kick back these days. But when I do have time, I’m all about my dog. We have a not so little 7 month old pit bull pup. He’s a 55 pound clown. I spend a lot of time with my lady and the dog. Instant fun. Lots of laughs.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
I’m currently involved in the world premiere of a phenomenal play called ‘Warrior Class’ at Second Stage Theater. It’s a limited run till 8/18. After that? I’ve got a few days on an indy film. I’m about to acquire an option on a young adult novel. It’s a property I’m very excited about. Over the next year my partners and I have to pump out a good script. Other than that? Who knows….
Thanks for the interview!