An Interview with

JIMMY WONG

By Jess Tyler

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If you want to know what the sandwich from Deadly Premonition tastes like, or how it is to bite into a forbidden Finn Cake, then you’d have to ask the one and only Jimmy Wong.  Not the only famous Jimmy to come out of Seattle, (the other being the mastermind behind “Purple Haze”), and since then claiming roost in Los Angeles, he has truly achieved so much in the blink of a hummingbird's eye.  He is a soul of many talents, a multi-hyphenate if you will, whose penchant for creativity has led him to take part in many ventures.  I first heard about Jimmy Wong through his imaginative and hunger inducing cooking channel, Feast of Fiction, which reprises outré eats and hyper sweets from pop-culture at large. Although others may have found him through his acclaimed web series, Video Game High School, which has gone on to cultivate millions upon millions of views and a diehard fanbase.

 

While he’s no stranger to the silver screen, his next project is on a whole ‘nother level, as he will be bringing his certified acting talent and comedic charm to the upcoming live action adaptation of Mulan!  Its animated counterpart is recommended watching, as it is one of, if not the best film   of the Disney Renaissance.  It's a grand movie full of enough beautiful moments to balance its rapturous wild, fun energy.

 

The budget of this reimagining is a mind-boggling $300 million dollars.  To put that into perspective, it’s right in the company of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker and Fast and Furious 8. He joins a phenomenal cast as the character Ling, one of Mulan’s compatriots in the army.  Jimmy takes it all in stride, with a cool, down-to-earth confidence.

 

He graciously allowed a brief peek into the machinations that swirl behind the curtain, and needless to say, it was pretty inspiring.

 

Any advice on people looking to get into acting?

Acting is one of the toughest and unforgiving careers out there. If you’re even remotely interested in acting, I would really suggest that you do so very carefully. Don’t dive straight into just acting - watch movies, study theatre, learn about your favorite actors, decide on directors and cinematographers you like. There’s an entire world behind what an actor does, and the more informed you can be the more involved you can get. I’ve taken so many small jobs here and there that weren’t acting, but led to meeting more people, collaborators, and directors that were important for my career later down the road. If I wasn’t a student of cinema, that might not have happened. So approach the career with open arms to everything it means to be in the entertainment industry. You might surprise yourself.

 

What was your mindset when you go to auditions?

It’s really important to be your own best ally when you audition - we can be our worst enemy sometimes, and psyching ourselves out is super easy to do if you’re not careful. Stay calm, prepare as much as you can beforehand, and know that no matter what happens, as long as you stay flexible and do the best job you can, there’s nothing to be ashamed or upset about.

 

When did you decide to become an actor?

Acting has always been a profession that I’ve dabbled in amongst many others since I moved to Los Angeles in 2011. My major in college was theatre, so I knew that I wanted to be in the performing arts one way or another. I’ve spent many years being a content creator, influencer, host, YouTuber, musician, and more. So I would consider myself a hybrid performer - ultimately I just want to be involved in great projects that mean something to the world. With Mulan, I am proud to call myself an actor in a project so immensely influential and significant.

 

What was your first professional role and how did that unravel for you?

My first real gig as an actor was for a small independent horror comedy called John Dies At The End, directed by the legendary Don Coscarelli. I had done a prior project as a host with the casting director and my headshot was just sitting on her desk. The director was in for a meeting and happened to see my face, and asked if I had auditioned for a role they were still looking for. I got a call from the casting director that same night, recorded the audition with my brother, and before I knew it, got cast in the film! Like I said earlier - the people you get to meet when you expand how the ways you work in the entertainment industry can be helpful in all sorts of hidden ways in the future. Some say luck is just when experience meets opportunity.

Where did you hone your musical/comedy background?

I’ve been playing classical piano since I was a child, and in college I began to pick up other instruments like guitar, bass, and drums. I also spent a lot of time playing games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and obsessed over bands like Flight of the Conchords and Tenacious D. All of these influences combined together helped me hone a sense of comedy and music that I’ve been carrying with me ever since. I also try to be open to all of the music that comes and goes each year, because I think there’s always something to learn from the music that becomes extremely popular.

 

If I get to go to Seattle, where should I not miss?

Seattle is constantly growing and changing, but some of the most iconic areas are just as awesome as they were ten years ago. I recommend everyone check out Pike Place Market, and for the best view of the city, try to make it to Kerry Park. As for food - there are so many options! I’d just use Yelp or the internet to see what people think is the best food in town.

 

Fave band today?

Tame Impala - I just love how their music makes me feel.

 

Sing with Mick or write a song with Keith?

Definitely write a song with Keith! I’ve done plenty of singing, and I’m sure Mick is an absolute genius, but when it comes to my skills as a songwriter, I think Keith could show me some things that would change the way I see music.

 

If you were on a dessert island what would it be made of? (spelling intended)

If it was a cake, I’d probably go for carrot or cheesecake. If it could be more than one thing, I do love a good sorbet, so a mix between mango and lychee would be divine.

 

Any fun moments from set?

We always got to hang out with the rest of the soldiers and main squad on set, and whenever there was downtime, we’d just goof off to stay lively. There was one day we all were eating oranges, and spent hours trying to throw the peels into each others’ mouths from across the room. Needless to say, we made quite the mess, and trying to clean that up when you’re completely costumed up was not easy. But we did share many laughs in the process.

 

What was it like filming for a long project such as this?

I was gone for over half a year to train and film Mulan. Being so far away from everything you’ve known for so long can be really tough. You don’t get to see your friends or family. You live out of a hotel and your two suitcases you brought. You miss out on birthdays, weddings, parties, and all sorts of other events.

There are times you get homesick, but a lot of that gets quickly erased when you realize just how incredible your opportunity is. It’s hard to not be anything but extremely grateful and excited for every day that comes ahead. Being a part of a production that has hundreds of people working tireless hours behind the scenes every day is such a humbling experience.

 

What was it like stepping into the world of Mulan? (being surrounded by the sets/costumes/etc?)

Absolutely incredible. The team behind making this movie are absolute professionals with decades of experience. Seeing the monumental sets that were built, the details that were infused into every little corner, and being surrounded by hundreds of cast members in costume helped all of us as actors find ourselves in the world. I give a lot of credit to the production team for doing years of research to make this film culturally accurate and to show the world just some of the beauty and diversity from China’s long history.

 

It seems like you’ve always been in fantastic shape, what was your training like? Did all the cast (300+ people) have to train as well?

I haven’t been in great shape all my life - I really started hitting the gym in preparation for the movie the year before I left. When I got to set, we trained really hard in all different aspects, from physical conditioning to martial arts and horse riding. It was challenging, exciting, and most importantly, safe. We were surrounded by some of the best trainers and experts, so being able to learn in that environment is something I’ll treasure forever. All of our background actors and cast went through training as well - after all we have to be able to march together and fight as a cohesive unit! I can’t wait for everyone to see our teamwork in action when the film releases.

 

Mulan has already come out on Disney+, and you can keep up with Jimmy’s amazing projects at:

www.instagram.com/jfwong

https://www.youtube.com/user/jimmy

https://twitter.com/jfwong?lang=en

https://www.youtube.com/user/feastoffiction

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Winter 2021