Harry Shum Jr. stars as Wei-Fang in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, and for the 33-year-old actor, the role was a kind of destiny in its own right.
“I was surprised that they would cast me, but at the end of the day, this was a dream come true to be a part of this cast,” Shum told ET last week.
The actor and dancer, perhaps best known for his role as Mike Chang on Glee, said that while his musical skills didn’t quite translate to his role in Sword of Destiny -- the sequel to the Oscar-winning 2000 martial arts epic -- his dance background helped him to learn some of the complex fight scenes.
“The part that helped me was the choreography,” Shum explained. “Memorizing the movement so your partner can react to it and you can have that timing down. That helped out a lot. If there was music playing while we were fighting, that would have helped a little more, but there isn't so you have to follow your own rhythm.”
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That doesn’t mean the role was an easy one for the actor, who now stars on the Freeform fantasy series Shadowhunters. In fact, Shum’s onset injuries from Sword of Destiny included a dislocated pinky finger and a mild concussion.
“You'd be surprised how much you utilize your pinky,” he said. “But once it happened, I put it back in and I was ready to go back.”
The concussion came during a scene on a frozen pond that Shum documented on his Instagram account, describing the day of shooting as “#ItWasColdAF.”
“You know, I try to make it as real as possible and I banged my head really hard on the ice,” the actor explained. “It's like plastic, so it doesn't break -- it breaks your head.”
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Shum also got to rock long hair for the role, revealing that the first day he showed up with his new, flowing locks, no one on set -- not even director Yuen Woo-ping -- recognized him.
“The only other person that knew was my co-star,” he said with a laugh. “They would pass by me and they thought I was an extra, just ‘cause they didn't recognize me.”
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While he’s come a long way since Glee, Shum says he still keeps in touch with his old co-stars from the Fox musical/comedy series.
“Before, we spent every day with each other you know?” he recalled “[Now] it's so nice to see each other [on] social media, but what's even better is that we actually still talk to each other and keep up with things that are happening … It's so cool that everyone's doing so many different things -- some are on Broadway, some just had a kid, some are writing books.”
In fact, Shum recently had a major personal milestone of his own, marrying dancer Shelby Rabara in November of last year.
“It's amazing, I really love it,” he gushed of married life. “You wouldn't think it'd be any different but it does feel different. I can't even explain it, you just feel like you committed to something and it's really exciting.”
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny is in theaters and on Netflix now.
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