Image credit: Richie Lubaton
We spoke with Kee Chan who can be seen as the villain Russell Tan in the second season
of the successful CW series Kung Fu which premiered on March 9, 2022. Born in Singapore and based in the U.S., Kee has made appearances in Mission: Impossible II, Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith and in the television mini-series Moby Dick opposite Sir Patrick Stewart. More recently he appeared in the 2018 sci-fi film Mortal Engines.
We asked Kee about his acting experiences and playing the villain in Kung Fu. Check out our conversation below.
When did you decide that storytelling and acting was something you wanted to do?
Kee Chan (KC): The need to regale and communicate is intrinsic and reveals itself once a baby begins to try to speak. Storytelling is innate in all of us. Sometime in my adult years I wanted to tell stories in a medium that could reach beyond the group in the bar, the party or a family gathering and give entertainment or illumination on a bigger scale. That was when the seed began to germinate.
What’s it like working on Kung Fu?
KC: Production on Kung Fu was like being accepted into a large family from day one. The showrunner Christina Kim and Robert Berens’ kindliness and genuine love for what they do filtered right down the line and created an elevated safe atmosphere for everyone in all departments to give their best. And it shows. Look at the result!
What advice would you give to people pursuing acting?
KC: The best advice I can give is to repeat what I was given years ago by Producer Albert Ruddy who shared with me over a fireside chat that the people who make it in this industry are not necessarily the best but those who believe in themselves and hang on the longest. From personal experiences that opened opportunities, love what you do, have gratitude for every piece of work, put yourself into them and create magic.
What can you tell us about playing a villain in a TV show?
KC: Villains are also people. They are someone’s father or mother, and were someone’s newborn baby. They are loved by someone and have grown to have opinions and goals that might be unconventional. It’s the choices they make that make them different from most and the challenge in creating a villain is in humanizing them and creating a character that is compelling and mesmerizing to watch.
What was your first acting role?
KC: A 16mm twelve minute black/white short film about the conflict and resolution between two men, about race and the fragility of life, was the very first role I was given. It was called Conversations With a Dead Man.
What do you enjoy the most about acting?
KC: The greatest joy in doing what we do is the people we meet and the friends we make in an environment that promotes cooperation, harmony and understanding of each others’ differences. The best benefit is the travel and immersing in the diverse and extraordinary lands you might not have imagined before.
Outside of acting, do you have any other interests or passions?
KC: The great outdoors, the deserts and the mountains beckon all the time. Going back to the wild, nature and the sea rejuvenates my spirit, I reconnect with the earth and it nourishes my soul.
What has been the best advice someone has given you about acting?
KC: Best advice to me ever, my former acting coach Robert D’Avanzo whom about acting, said “You, are enough.”
Kung Fu airs on Wednesdays at 8pm ET on The CW, and new episodes can be streamed the next day on The CW’s website and app.
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