In part one of Ningin’s Justin Chon interview, we learned about his father—a former South Korean actor—and got an idea of both of their approaches to tackling roles and acting in general. In part two, we will learn more about his new drama-packed film, as well as get a glimpse of this inspired film buff’s all-time favorites in the industry.
TJL: What’s the project called?
JC: It’s called Crossing Over. It’s with Harrison Ford, Ashely Judd, Ray Leota, Jim Sturgess.
TJL: Sounds like a great cast.
JC: Yeah, like an awesome, awesome cast, and it’s about immigration. Very dramatic. It’s all about… sad. [laughs] It’s a tear jerker.
TJL: Did you get really emotional filming it?
JC: It was a very tough role to play. To date, that’s my hardest role—preparation wise, it was the hardest.
TJL: What was your first role? Was it that kung-fu flick from Disney? [Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior]
JC: I was in that, and I did a co-star on the show Jack & Bobby. In terms of TV and film, I think that’s the first thing ever.
TJL: What’s your dream role? And whom would you like to collaborate with one day?
JC: You know, honestly, even for like acting, I’ve already accomplished what I’ve set out for initially because seriously, I never thought I’d even get this far.
TJL: You’ve gotten your name out there.
JC: Yeah, and I’ve got to work with huge people, but if I had a choice, probably like a little, tiny indie that has a really brilliant director. Someone like—you know how Danny Boyle won all those awards? I mean, he’s an amazing director, but he’s a little bit under the radar.
TJL: Right! Well, Trainspotting… did you ever imagine the director would be there [the mainstream success Boyle has been experiencing for Slumdog Millionaire] one day?
JC: Yeah! Like the director of 28 Days Later, or you know, Sunshine? He’s just kind of like—he’s had these wonderful films that have just been visionary, but he’s just kind of flown under the radar. To the general public, that is; of course, the industry knows him.
TJL: Exactly, but he’s not like Spielberg. He doesn’t have that kind of name.
JC: Yeah, so I’d love to find a director like that before he gets huge and work on an amazing film…who has a total vision…trusting totally and completely.
TJL: Someone you can grow with.
JC: Yeah! Creating true art.
TJL: When it comes to actors, films, directors—whatever in the industry—what are some of your biggest inspirations or favorites?
JC: I love all the neglected actors, like I love Crispin Glover.
TJL: Oh, I love him! [Chon's publicist and friend laugh about us talking about Glover]
JC: Dude, I love—
TJL: I love that rat movie he did. [Willard]
JC: Yeah, you know people just take huge risks and don’t care what people think. I don’t think I have the luxury of that, yet, but I look up to those who can just let it go.
TJL: Play off the beaten path?
JC: Yeah, you know? And he’s had a career [Glover]. Or someone who’s just very meat and potatoes and who knows his craft, like Mark Ruffalo.
TJL: Yes, he’s one of my favorites.
JC: People like that just really inspire me. I mean, of course greats like Johnny Depp are obviously inspiring, but they [neglected actors] are just really interesting people.
TJL: Is there anything you’d like to share with people who are just starting out in acting or might be interested in it?
JC: I always say just learn how to act because, you know, a lot of people just want to be famous, and that’s not what acting’s about. At all.
TJL: It’s an actual craft.
JC: It’s an actual craft, and I was talking about this the other day with somebody. You look at all the best actors—they’ve all been trained by Strasberg or Uta Hagen or Roy London—they actually have training. There’s a select few, like 5%, that don’t get trained and are just amazing, but that’s just…. you can’t just rely on raw talent unless you’re—I dunno—like Johnny Depp. Yeah, I would definitely say just learn how to act.
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