Like many actors before her, Jamie Chung cut her teeth working on a soap opera. And like many actors before her, that 2007 Days of Our Lives entry on her resume has been forever eclipsed by her work alongside actors like Bradley Cooper, Russell Crowe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and for directors like Zack Snyder, Todd Phillips and David Koepp.
Now, Chung is busier than ever, playing Mulan on ABC's Once Upon A Time, reprising her role in the final Hangover film and suiting up for Sin City 2. ETonline caught up with Chung to talk about all these projects and discovered the personal mantra that led to all of them.
ETonline: What appealed to you about playing Mulan on Once Upon A Time?
Jamie Chung: Well, it's just an incredible show. It is so bizarre and nuts and wonderful, and to be a part of the fairytale storyline with the two female leads, who I just adore, has been so fun. Almost every other week I got to roll in the hay with Ginnifer Goodwin. I love that although there's a reference point for my character, you still have the freedom to make up a story. To play this strong female woman warrior, who is fun and a tough ass but loyal like a samurai is so fun to play.
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ETonline: We know Mulan's backstory from other sources, but will we see any of that on OUAT?
Chung: You'll see a snippet of her past. Everything ties in very nicely this season, I'll say that.
ETonline: What are you excited for the fans to see this season?
Chung: I can't give away a lot, but it gets stranger and darker. People are going to think we're a cable show with how dark it gets. The dream [that Henry and Aurora share] is hugely important to the rest of the season. We discover that we can use to our benefit – but then, whatever can be used for good can also be used for evil. That's a big theme in the next two episodes. What was once good can be used for evil, and vice versa. It's really important to keep that in mind over the next two weeks.
ETonline: You've played a string of very physically capable women. Are you more drawn to physical roles or is that just how things have shaken out?
Chung: It's so interesting. I do feel more confident in a scene when my character has a weapon. You're much more aware of what your body is capable of doing: how fast you can run, how hard you can hit, how quickly you can evade a punch. You're so much more conscious of that, and that confidence makes all the difference. Yeah, it can give you a false sense of confidence in real life, but I have no intentions of getting in a bar fight [laughs].
ETonline: You've also stepped in for a pregnant Devon Aoki to play Miho in Sin City 2. With its stunt work and greenscreen filming, I kind of feel like all your other roles have kind of prepared you for this part.
Chung: That's so true. And Robert [Rodriguez, director] is really taking it to the next level. In terms of technology, there's so much more for him to play with. Robert is such a creative man. His work process is so fascinating to me. There's not much time to prep. You get up there and he says do it and you just do it. It's by the far the most physical role I've ever done. I'm in action hero heaven!
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ETonline: And then you've also got The Hangover Part III -- how does the finale stack up?
Chung: It has the spirit of the first two Hangover movies, but it's much more different. The fans are going to love it.
ETonline: In general, are you someone who meticulously plans their career or just operates on a role-to-role basis?
Chung: I don't plan too far ahead, it really is one script to the next. I'm such a scrapper, I'll take whatever comes my way. That's why I get a lot of leftovers. But when those leftovers are Sin City 2, I won't complain. The goal is to constantly create and keep moving – if you have movement going forward and hopefully the work will be there to match your desires.
Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on ABC.