The season of heat waves, backyard barbecues and hitting up the beach may be over, but Summer Qing, who stars as Bruce Willis’s character’s wife in sci-fi thriller Looper, is just getting started.
Honing her skills with previous works such as Farewell My Concubine, Cannes Film Festival’s Life on a String, and San Sebastian Film Festival’s The Emperor’s Shadow, the Beijing Film Academy graduate has stricken American audiences among a star-studded cast in her Hollywood debut. Qing weaves passion and beauty through Looper just as her humility and oft laughter emerges through the inflection of her Mandarin.
The actress took a moment to chat with us about her crossover to American cinema. Joined by her manager and translator, Ben Zhang, she answers unheard questions, addresses controversial topics, and gives behind-the-scenes details about Bruce Willis that only The Game Fanatics can reveal in this Fanatical Exclusive.
The Game Fanatics: First of all, we must congratulate you on Looper, and thank you both for the opportunity to speak with you.
Summer Qing: Thank you!
TGF: You’re credited as Summer Qing for this movie, but you use your birth name, Qing Xu, on your previous work. Is that due to this being your first Hollywood film?
SQ: [As told to us by Zhang] Yes, this is the first time I’m credited as Summer Qing. Qing (pronounced ching) is actually my first name, and my last name is Xu (pronounced like chew). Chinese characters that have one spelling can mean many meanings. It just happens that Qing means “sunny”, and it also means “love.” I was born in the winter, but I love sunshine, heat, and energy. That’s why I chose Summer.
TGF: Although American movies are gradually incorporating and portraying its lead characters in interracial relationships, it isn’t quite common. As a Chinese actress playing the wife of a Caucasian man, did you receive any comments about your character being in an interracial relationship, either positive or negative?
SQ: Of course there will be both positive and negative comments coming from outside, as with everything else. For this movie, there were a lot of positive comments from press, friends, and people we know that say I shared a lot of great chemistry with Bruce. That we look like the perfect couple that is on a romantic and loving adventure of our life. There are also people saying, “Oh, it’s a Chinese woman and this American guy, and it looks awkward for them to be together.” With that being said—that it looks “awkward”—the comments to me sound awkward! As we know, love should have no borders, and love conquers all. Bruce Willis’s character, Old Joe, has fallen in love with my character as a whole person. He didn’t love her because she is Chinese. He loves her because of who she is as a person. I’ve never been in an interracial “relationship” before this movie, but I find nothing wrong with it. Any relationship can be exciting.
[Qing and Zhang both laugh at the length of the translation process.]
TGF: You definitely conveyed a deep sentiment for Old Joe in the moments you shared with him in the movie—enough to dissolve misconceptions about difference in culture, age, and so on. Was your limited screen time a smooth introduction to doing American film? Do you plan on taking on roles with more speaking parts?
SQ: Absolutely. Looper is a great introduction for me, and even though my character didn’t have a lot of screen time, she has a great presence in the story. I hope that I will have more projects coming in the future, and that the American audience will remember me for my performance in the movie.
TGF: Did you find that a language barrier, if anything, made it difficult to be directed or communicate with the cast and crew?
SQ: Absolutely not, because [Zhang and I] just shared this great connection with the crew and cast. Actually, before we went to the filming in New Orleans, we thought that there would be some kind of cultural difference and a gap between us and them, because we’re from China and they are from the West. But when we arrived on set, we didn’t feel that at all, because we just felt a love and a warm welcome. We got positive responses from the crew and the cast. It was just a really great experience. Aside from that, great movies are truly international. You don’t need a lot of language whatsoever to communicate. Even though Bruce and I had a lot of lines onscreen, that didn’t stop us from taking this great and romantic adventure together, like an old couple.
TGF: In watching the movie, I saw an obvious sentiment and adoration for Bruce’s character during your moments together. That experience can be summarized by a unique fashion in which he greeted you when you first met him. Can you tell our readers about that?
SQ: The first time I arrived on the set, Bruce and I hadn’t officially met. That day, we were supposed to shoot our most emotional and intense scene… but we didn’t know each other. What Bruce did was come over to me, pull me into his arms, and hold me there for a whole minute. Everyone else stood around, and he never said a word. He was trying to communicate with me, with his body language, that he was pulling us two strangers into a new relationship that we had just formed… yet we were suddenly old lovers. It worked perfectly well. And from that moment on, we only shared this great experience. Bruce has only been this loving and caring person on set with me. It was just great.
TGF: What does he smell like?
SQ: What does he smell like?! [laughs] He smells like you’re going to be in love with him.
TGF: Perfect. Like you said, part of the story takes part in China, but the movie was in filmed in New Orleans. Had you ever been there before, and while you were there, did you get to experience the historical and musical culture of the city?
SQ: We experienced the culture, the history, the music, even Mardi Gras while we were filming. It was a truly great experience.
TGF: Our last question for you is if you had the ability to travel back in time, where or when would you go?
SQ: I would like to travel back to the time of the Tang Dynasty. I don’t know how much you know of Chinese history, but the Tang Dynasty was the peak of the oriental culture. Actually, you could probably compare the Tang Dynasty capital to present day New York. It was really the cultural, political, and commercial center of the world. What was interesting, was that there lived the one and only female empress in Chinese history throughout thousands of years. There had only been male emperors, and there was one female empress, and she lived in the Tang Dynasty. What happened to her was really interesting, so I would love to time travel back to that time and place to observe what happened. Our production company is developing a project regarding this female empress’s story., which will hopefully be a movie in the future.
TGF: We’ll definitely be looking forward to that. Thank you so much for your time tonight and best of luck with your future endeavors.
SQ: Thank you!
Check out these behind-the-scenes photos from the set of Looper, which is now playing in theaters worldwide. If you’ve seen the two-hour mindbender, comment below on what you loved! (No spoilers, please.) It’s definitely a must-see, and here’s to hoping a 3D version comes out with the home release.