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Simu Liu remembers the event as clearly as if it had happened just yesterday — the first time he met Tony Leung on the set of Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

In the movie, now showing in cinemas, the 32-year-old Chinese-Canadian plays Shang-Chi, a slacker and reluctant heir apparent to his estranged father Wenwu’s (Leung) millennia-old criminal group called the Ten Rings. The titular hoops are the out-of-this-world WMDs which Wenwu uses to build his empire.

“I was really, really nervous,” Liu tells a group of journos early Monday morning (Sunday evening over in New York) via Zoom. 

“He was in the middle of stunt rehearsals when I kinda gently walked up to him and said, ‘Hello’,” recalls Liu, who’s clearly still star-struck. “I remember I grabbed both of his hands and said, ‘It’s such an incredible honour to have you on set with us and I look forward to learning from you.”

What did he learn about the 59-year-old Hongkong veteran thesp?

“You may be surprised to know this,” he continues, “Despite being a massive, massive superstar in Asia, he really just feels like an incredibly normal person — he’s so soft-spoken and gentle, and very, very kind. So it was such a pleasure going to work with him every day.”

And let’s forget about Leung’s eyes.

Liu says, “Being able to stare into his eyes — because he has such famously expressive eyes — and to be able to witness that firsthand, to have them look straight at me is really just incredible.”

simu liu   cast shang chi new york premiere data
Let's round up the gang: Simu Liu with his "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' co-stars— (from left) Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang and Fala Chen — at the New York premiere at Regal Union Square Cinemas on Aug 30, 2021.

So mesmerised was Liu by Leung’s presence that he counts hanging out with him as one of his fondest memories from making his feature film debut (and the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to feature an Asian lead).  

“Getting to know more about him and who he is as a person — behind the legend, the iconic movie star, and it turns out he’s a really cool guy,” says Liu.

The one-time accountant and stuntman also found out that his on-screen father enjoys water sports and snowboarding.

“He invited me to join him in Japan and I was really looking forward to doing that [but] unfortunately, the universe had other plans,” says Liu, blaming the Covid-19 pandemic for ruining their man-date.

But Liu remains optimistic. “[I am] looking forward to the time when it’s safe to visit him and take up on his offer.”

stan lee
What if…? If Marvel legend Stan Lee were still alive, Simu Liu imagined he would make a cameo in the bus brawl sequence. “I would love for him to be the bus driver,” Liu tells 8days.sg. “[Amid the chaos] I think Stan would look into the camera and give this ‘What’s going on?’ kind of one-liner.”

Photos: Disney, Simu Liu/Instagram, TPG News/Click Photos

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