Ludi Lin found the experience working on the Netflix series The Ghost Bride exhilarating.
“Because it’s a Netflix project that’s going to be seen all over the world,” the Chinese-Canadian actor tells 8days. “It’s great that it’s an original production dealing with Chinese culture on an international platform.” Plus, he got to play a character he isn’t known for: the romantic lead. More of that later.
A fantasy-romance set in 19th century Malacca, The Ghost Bride — based on Malaysian-Chinese author Choo Yangsze’s best-selling novel — stars Taiwan’s Huang Peijia as Li Lan, a young woman who’s bethroned to the dead son (Malaysia's Kuang Tian) of a wealthy family. Lin plays Tian Bai, the lass’s childhood sweetheart standing in the way of this supernatural union.
Shot around Malaysia (mainly in Iskandar Puteri, JB), the six-part Taiwan-Malaysia joint production also stars Taiwan’s Wu Kang-Ren (The World Between Us) as Er Lang, a guard from the celestial world. Interestingly, Lin first read for Er Lang while Wu was eyeing to play Tian Bai. In the end, the directors thought Lin was more suitable as Tian Bai.
Best known for action roles in Power Rangers (as Black Ranger) and Aquaman (as Captain Murk) , Lin welcomed the opportunity to portray someone who “moves his mouth a lot and is not very [physical].” Speaking to us via Google Hangout during a recent stopover tour in KL, Lin said he didn’t face any challenges switching gears.
“Getting into Tian Bai’s mindset is very important for me,” says Lin. “Because Tian Bai — as his name suggests — is very pure and what is the purest thing about him? As it turns out, love. But it’s also the deadliest thing about him. Because he’s so one-sided that he neglects a lot of people and causes a lot of pain for other people.”
Whether the action is expressed or internalised, Lin says his job is to elicit an emotional reaction from the audience. He adds, “They share the same thing when you’re a telling a story, right?” But after The Ghost Bride, he games for more romantic lead roles. “Romantic comedies all the way!,” he says, laughing. “No, not all the way, but I would love to do [rom-coms].”
Or more dramas. Like Summer Knight, You Xing’s coming-of –age story set in China in the summer of 1997, about two kids trying to recover a stolen bicycle. The drama, where Lin spoke a Szechuan dialect, won Best Film in the Asian Future section at the Tokyo International Film Festival in November.
Or maybe he can mix a little action, romance and drama, like what he did in the Black Mirror Season 5 ep ‘Striking Vipers’ where he and Guardians of the Galaxy’s Pom Klementieff play avatars in a VR game. “It’s just fighting and [expletive] in that episode,” he chuckles. “That’s all I did! It was very draining.”
Meanwhile, Lin just wrapped Mortal Kombat where he brandishes his fists of fury as pugilist master Liu Kang. While he can’t wait to see that reboot, he’s just as eager to catch another movie opening a month after his: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi is the first superhero movie to feature an Asian protagonist, a role Lin was reportedly in the running for, which eventually went to fellow Chinese-Canadian Simu Liu. When Lin found out that their movies will be released so closely to each other, he says, “I was like, Oh man, it’s in-fighting!” But in a good way.
“It’s nice to see more of these things happening,” Lin continues. “More stories that really represent Asians, that really feature our faces.” Was he disappointed that he missed out on Shang-Chi? “There are certain projects that are really important and I don’t get them, I actually feel pain inside, like someone has punched me in the gut.
“But at the same time, I truly believe that in order to properly represent ourselves as Asians — ‘Asians’ is a very complicated category — it can’t be done by one person. We represent 60 per cent of the world, so one person can’t represent all that. Simu are good friends! I really celebrate [that he got the part]. We met soon after he was cast. It’s wonderful.”The Ghost Bride is now streaming on Netflix; Mortal Kombat opens Jan 14, 2021 while Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hits the big screen Feb 11, 2021.