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Simu Liu on Why He Downplays His Martial-Arts Skills

Simu Liu Explains Why He Minimizes His Past Martial-Arts Experience

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 01: Simu Liu arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere Of Columbia Pictures'

Image Source: Getty / Steve Granitz

Marvel star Simu Liu says that he deliberately downplayed some of his talents in the MCU's "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" in order to avoid certain stereotypes. The admission came during a candid conversation with Kevin Hart for the comedian's series "Hart to Heart." Hart asked Liu, "I heard that martial arts was not in your background, that you had to learn it for the movie, and that you did like 70, 80 percent of the stunts that were involved for the movie?"

Liu responded truthfully, admitting that he does have some background in martial arts, but there's a reason why he doesn't speak about it much. "I'll be honest with you," he began. "I purposefully downplay how much martial arts I knew, because I am afraid of that narrative. Of like, 'The martial-arts guy . . . they cast the martial-arts guy to do the martial arts . . . he's Asian . . . of course!'"

But despite his fear of being typecast, Liu did train in martial arts before he found fame — something he said was important to him as a struggling actor in Canada. "I mean of course, hell yeah I did martial arts, you know? I took the stunt training, I was in class, I was doing gymnastics and parkour," Liu told Hart.

"I want to challenge people to see me as an artist. The same way that Ryan Gosling picked up jazz piano for 'La La Land,' that is the way that I picked up martial arts for this movie."

Still, Liu wants viewers to know that there's more to him as a person and an actor than his martial-arts skills. "I want to challenge people to see me as an artist. The same way that Ryan Gosling picked up jazz piano for 'La La Land,' that is the way that I picked up martial arts for this movie," he said. "It is not because martial arts is all I do, it's not because martial arts is all Asian people do and that's all they're good for, and when you see an Asian person on screen they better be doing martial arts — it's not that. But this was a character. And so I did the training that was necessary."

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