Shang-Chi‘s Simu Liu is a dancer, not a fighter. In a recent discussion with West Side Story‘s Ariana DeBose, as part of Variety’s Actors-on-Actors specials, Liu revealed that he exaggerated somewhat about about his martial arts skills to get the part of Shaun in the Marvel movie.
In the interview, Liu and DeBose discuss their shared history with reality TV competition show So You Think You Can Dance? Liu reveals that in college, he was in a hip-hop competitive dance team and dreamed of going on the show, which DeBose actually did take part in.
DeBose says; “I love that you have a dance background, which makes a lot of sense because in your film, Shang-Chi, what got me initially was your physicality. I would assume there’s a lot of rehearsal that goes into something like that?”
And Liu responds; “When I got the part, they asked me about my martial arts background and experience, which of course I exaggerated because I wanted the job really badly.”
DeBose says; “You bluffed your way into the part — I love it!”
Liu continues; “I had done some work as an on-again, off-again stuntman, but if we’re honest, I think I was more of a dancer than I ever was a martial artist. Pretty much from the moment I was cast, I started working with trainers and learning how to move. I had such awful flexibility. My groin and my tendons were just so stiff. A big part of that early process was just bending my body and trying to rip those legs apart.”
Unbelievably, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was Liu’s first movie and it went on to gross $430 million at the box office. A sequel has already been confirmed, with Destin Daniel Cretton returning.