You’re going to remember Wesley Wong’s name after seeing ‘Pacific Rim Uprising.’ HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with the actor about taking on such an intense role in the sequel, discovering his passion for film, and more!
Pacific Rim Uprising is the highly-anticipated sequel to the 2013 blockbuster Pacific Rim. Wesley Wong, 31, joins the cast alongside Scott Eastwood, 32, John Boyega, 26, Charlie Day, 42, and more as Cadet Jinhai. The movie, which was filmed mostly in Australia, takes place 10 years after the first film. Wesley’s Cadet Jinhai is a part of a new group of cadets “who have never been on the field.” Since the events of the 2013 movie, there has not been a Kaiju attack, but that all changes in Pacific Rim Uprising, which is out in theaters now.
Wesley is an up-and-coming star from China, and Pacific Rim Uprising marks his U.S. film debut. “Since the casting process, it’s been a dream for me,” Wesley told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “I never thought I would get the part, actually. It was a dream come true being on such a big production, and I’m just enjoying it right now.” Wesley comes from a family of actors. His father, Melvin Wong, 72, is a famous comedic and martial arts actor who worked closely with Jackie Chang, 63. His mother, Angie Chiu, 63, is one of China’s biggest television stars. While studying business at the University of Southern California, he realized his true passion in life: film. He moved back to China to enroll in the esteemed Beijing Film Academy. Now he’s back and ready to take Hollywood by storm. Get ready, you’re going to remember Wesley from here on out. Check out our Q&A below.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is your U.S. film debut. Why was this role the perfect one to make your debut into the U.S. film industry?
Wesley Wong: For me, it’s good in a sense that it has this huge fan base from the first one, and this role is great because it shows different sides of me as an actor. All of my lines are in English, even though I’m a Chinese cadet. There are a lot of different sides to me where the audience can get to know me as an actor as well.
What stood out about the role of Cadet Jinhai?
Wesley Wong: I was actually a really big fan of the first one because of the new concept of having a Jaeger, which is actually controlled by a human. That was a fun and exciting concept for me. It’s not like other movies like Transformers where the machine is just a friend or just a big technological machine. You’re controlling the Jaeger. Part of it is human. That was something I really liked and found it very pleasing to watch with all the special effects.
The humans controlling the Jaegers adds such a physical element. How was the training process for you?
Wesley Wong: We actually just released a behind the scenes of the training for the cadets. Production had a trainer and a nutritionist on set with us since pre-production. So she was training with us every day. She had a very vigorous training regime for us, a diet plan for us, and we had to follow it very strictly and train really hard. I remember a few days where I was training and it got so hard that I was about to puke. There was an important scene for the cadets, the first scene of us being shown to the audience and there was a possibility where I was going to be shirtless for that scene. That would probably be the only scene where the audience would see how the cadets would look like and I would be the representative of that, so I had to train extra hard to look good.
How would you say the sequel compares to the first?
Wesley Wong: It’s an extension of the first movie that Guillermo del Toro created. This is different where we have the cadets and different Jaeger pilots from all over the world. The group comes from different backgrounds and different countries. I think audiences from all over the world will find someone to connect to and relate to much more than the first one. I think in the second movie, the Jaegers are much more advanced, much more well built, and there are a lot of new things incorporated into the movie that the audience will like.
What was it like working with Scott Eastwood and John Boyega?
Wesley Wong: Before the movie, I didn’t know what to expect from them. I had seen a lot of their movies — I’d seen Star Wars with John and Suicide Squad with Scott — but when I met them, they were both very, very friendly and welcoming. John came up to us on the first day and introduced himself. He is a producer and he told us that if any of us had any requests or anything that we need to go up to him because he’s one of the younger producers. He would understand us more. That was very nice of him. I talked with Scott at the kickoff party before we started shooting. I knew that Scott had a very healthy lifestyle, and he was very aware of his own physique, so I asked him about how he kept his physique. He gave me a lot of tips to keeping my body in shape. I really appreciated that.
Where would you like to your character or franchise go from here?
Wesley Wong: I hope it will do well. I definitely hope there’s going to be a next one.
Were there any challenges as an actor to filming a movie that incorporates a lot of visual effects?
Wesley Wong: Before filming, I thought there would be a lot of green screen or blue screen. I thought it was going to be a lot of imagination going on. But the first day I went to set, the sets were pretty much fully built. It really felt like, whether it was a Kaiju attack and it was a mess around us or being in the com-pods inside the Jaegers, it was really well built. As an actor it really felt like we were inside a Jaeger. There wasn’t much imagination needed.
Your parents are very famous in China and have had incredible careers in the entertainment industry. Did you always want to be an actor?
Wesley Wong: Actually, no. My parents didn’t actually include me into their work life when I was growing up. They didn’t want their career to affect my life. I grew up just like any normal kid. I grew up in Hong Kong, went to school… I had a very strong passion for film and cartoons from a very young age, so after studying business at USC, I just realized that film would maybe be my passion for life, so I went back to China and Beijing to study film and acting.
Why did you go to China to kickstart your movie career?
Wesley Wong: Well, my parents stressed the importance of finding my passion in life. I was already thinking about that for a long time, since high school and college. I studied business here at USC in LA, so I did a lot of internships at financial institutions. I liked it but I didn’t feel like it was my passion like my parents were talking about. So when I had a chat with dad during senior year, he actually said that he enjoyed acting the most, so he told me to give it a try if I wanted to. That’s when I thought I should study it. That’s when I went to Beijing.