1/He’s known the Deadpool 2 director for a long time.
In Deadpool 2, Lewis Tan, 31, plays Shatterstar, one of the mutants recruited by Ryan Reynolds’ Merc with a Mouth to be in his ragtag supergroup, X-Force. Tan first got wind of the part when stuntman-turned-director David Leitch (John Wick) approached him. “At that time, I didn’t know what the role was and he didn’t tell me what it was,” the Manchester-born, LA-based actor tells us over the phone. “So I just said, ‘Whatever you need, let me come in and see if I’m right for it.” Tan considers Leitch a family friend: it was Tan’s father, Philip Tan, a renowned martial artist and stunt coordinator, who gave Leitch his first job on Orgazmo, the 1997 sex comedy starring Trey Parker and Matt Stone. (Lewis’ British mother was a former model.) “I was raised on set around David and I trained with him off and on,” says the younger Tan.
2/ He always knew his role in Deadpool 2 was, er, brief.
One of the biggest — and funniest — shocks in the sequel is how long the X-Force lasted on-screen: most of them perished before they even get down to kicking ass. Tan says he, Bill Skarsgård (as Zeitgeist) and Terry Crews (as Bedlam) shot a lot of fake footage for the trailers which were designed to throw the viewers off the scent of the X-Forcers’ grisly fates. “The movie is an introduction to the X-Force,” says Tan. “It’s also an experiment to [see how well people would respond to them].” Tan hopes to be part of the long-gestating X-Force movie currently being developed by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods). “Bill, Terry and I bonded really well on set, so hopefully audiences would see [more of that] chemistry if we ever do the movie.”
3/ Deadpool 2 isn’t his first rodeo in the Marvel universe.
Before Deadpool 2, Tan, who has worked as a stuntman on Olympus Has Fallen and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, received a lot of attention on Netflix’s Iron Fist in the episode ‘The Blessing of Many Fractures’, as a villain who fought Finn Jones’ Danny Rand. On the shortage of Asian superheroes, Tan, who actually read for the Danny Rand role, says, “Black Panther opened up a lot of doors for African-Americans, and I think we [Asians] will get opportunities like that as well.” Look at Daniel Wu, whom Tan worked with on the latest season of Into the Badlands. “He could easily play a superhero in any of those of Marvel or DC comic franchises. But it’s going to take time to break down the walls. We’re getting close: myself as Shatterstar in Deadpool 2 is a step towards that direction.”
4/ He knew how hard Hollywood was for Asians from his father.
“When I was a kid, I saw him perform [as a stunt choreographer] and play mostly villains,” says Tan of his father, Philip, who was born in Singapore but moved to the UK when he was five. “I was watching him getting beat up all the time, getting killed, and when I saw him getting choked to death by Kurt Russell in Tango & Cash, I was, like, traumatised. At that time, it didn’t register in my head why my dad was always the villain. It only clicked years later when I started to realise that there was no platform for Asian-Americans to play heroes or love interests.” And now, Tan wants to make a difference with the connections his father has helped him with in Hollywood. “I’m hoping to open up doors for other people who can take it to the next level after me.”
5/ He is developing a TV show based on his father’s childhood.
“It has an action twist to it,” says Tan, who’s developing a TV show with Tucker Tooley, the producer of the Oscar-winning The Fighter. “It’s also very dramatic, and has a lot of elements that are part of my family. It takes place in different parts of the world — Singapore, Hongkong and Los Angeles.” Speaking of which, when was the last time Tan was in Singapore? About four years ago, says Tan, who still has relatives here. “I miss Singaporean food.”
(Main photo: Aramis Knight)