Simu Liu Talks ‘One True Loves’ and the ‘Shang-Chi’ Sequel

Apr 8, 2023

[Editor’s note: The following contains some spoilers for One True Loves.]From director Andy Fickman and adapted from the book by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Daisy Jones and The Six), the romantic dramedy One True Loves tells the story of what happens when Jesse (Luke Bracey), who was presumed dead, returns home to the love of his life, Emma (Phillipa Soo), looking to pick up with their lives where they left off prior to his tragic disappearance. But in his absence, Emma has found love and happiness again with her best friend Sam (Simu Liu), for whom Jesse’s return throws his entire life into upheaval as he waits for Emma to decide where her heart lays now.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Liu talked about the choice he had to make about which character he wanted to play, what sets Sam apart from a typical romance character, exploring Sam’s anxiety and neuroses, his desire to play against type, and what he enjoyed about working with co-star Soo. He also talked about the inevitable Shang-Chi sequel and what fans can expect, and how he takes care of himself when he’s not in superhero training.

Collider: I read that when producer Sarah Finn passed this to you, that you had the option of choosing between the two leading men. Was it always Sam and only Sam for you? Did you ever seriously consider playing Jesse, or did you just know you were more connected to Sam?

SIMU LIU: I ingested the script and really thought long and hard. It actually wasn’t an easy decision. I felt like, in a lot of ways, Jesse is a very archetypal male protagonist in a romance, where he’s the guy that’s willing to swim halfway around the world to be with the person that he loves. It’s that idea of, how hard are you willing to fight? I feel like, for a lot of romantic movies that we’ve watched over the years, there are these grand romantic gestures that signify how hard a man is willing to fight and therefore conditioning the audience that his person should definitely be with the man who fights the hardest. I think I caught myself on that loop because, before Jesse emerged as an early choice and before committing to that, I really wanted to take the time to really get into Sam’s head and to think about what Sam is doing. I came to this revelation that while Jesse is fighting and expanding this effort, Sam is working equally as hard, but to be the partner that he feels like Emma needs. That’s a very, very different energy for a male protagonist than I think a lot of us are used to seeing. And so, that really intrigued me, and the more I studied the script and the story, the more I really started to identify with Sam, or maybe wanted to be more like Sam. I feel like so many of us men are conditioned, if we want something, to fight for it. Sam is the epitome of an evolved version of that thinking, which is, “I’m gonna provide the most loving environment that I possibly can and, if that’s not enough, then I’m gonna be heartbroken, but that’s okay.”

Image via The Avenue

I love that we get to actually really see and understand what Sam is going through and how hard it is for him. It feels like a genius way to let the audience see him pouring his heart out, by having him do it to his class. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know any of what he’s thinking while Emma is off with Jesse. Was it fun to go from pretending everything is fine, to having an outburst and throwing your phone, to then pouring your heart out to an audience?

LIU: There’s a neurosis to Sam that I also really loved. He really came alive in the script, where I really felt his anxiety. I think we’ve all been in that situation where we try to play cool in front of the person that we’re trying to win over. But then, deep down there are a million fires happening, and he’s just trying his darn best to be the most loving partner possible. Seeing your fiancée walk out on the life that you’ve built, to go spend a weekend in the cabin with her husband is obviously gonna be so traumatic. He’s got a great relationship with the kids, so it’s great that he has an outlet for all his anxiety because he’s definitely feeling it.

I love that now that we know you as a superhero and we’ve seen you handle action in martial arts, you choose to do a small character-driven romance, after Shang-Chi. Were you intentionally looking for something like this, or did you not know exactly what you were looking for until this came your way?

LIU: First of all, if Sarah Finn comes calling, you pick up the phone. That’s definitely one of my rules of life. And then, in terms of what I was looking for after Shang-Chi, I just really didn’t wanna be pigeonholed in a way that I’ve seen in the past, and I’m referring specifically to this idea that Asian men have to do martial arts, in order to justify them being on screen. I think I was excited to have an opportunity to portray all the different facets of emotionality that any leading male character should be able to exude. And so, wherever that led me, I didn’t necessarily have a specific idea, but when Sarah approached me with One True Loves and I read it, I was really enamored by it and I saw the same vision for it as she did.

Image via The Avenue

You knew that Phillipa Soo would be your co-star in this, when you were reading the script. What was it like to find these characters and find that relationship with her, from the very beginning?

LIU: Phillipa and I hadn’t met before joining the project, but we definitely got in touch and we would start shooting ideas back and forth. I was such a big fan of her beforehand, and knowing that Sarah was on board and that Phillipa was on board, those were big reasons why I signed on. I know it’s a cliche to say, but she was just such a professional on set and such a joy to work with, in both the on set moments and the off set moments when we were talking about the story beats. We wanted Sam and Emma’s relationship t to feel like it was just such a bright spot, and she is every bit as talented as everyone would expect. She’s just wonderful. I think this is the beginning of a very, very long road for her, in film and in this industry. I’m just really excited for her. I’m really happy that I got the opportunity to work with her.

We know that, at some point, there will be a Shang-Chi sequel and that Destin Daniel Cretton is set to direct it again. Does the idea of returning to that character feel different now than getting to debut that character? Is there more pressure now? Do you feel more confident in it now? Do the feelings change when you’re going back to something like that?

LIU: Yeah. Generally, you’re under the most pressure when something is unproven. There’s really high stakes. I remember shooting the first movie and feeling like, “Okay, we’re essentially crafting this character, every single day.” The stakes could not be higher because it was a 100 bajillion dollar movie budget. I feel like those are the circumstances under which the pressure would be the highest. Going into a sequel feels exciting. It doesn’t necessarily feel like there’s a pressure to perform or a pressure to exceed. It feels like we’ve established a world and there’s just something really nostalgic and exciting about returning to that world that we’ve spent so much time ideating on and thinking about. And then, we’re getting to revisit some things, but also show the viewer new things. We’ll deliver all the amazing action that we were celebrated for on the first movie, but then also hopefully explore new sides of Shaun’s character and the characters around him. That is, of course, if we can still afford Michelle Yeoh. She’s on top of the world and just the queen of everything.

And she deserves it.

LIU: Yes.

Image via Marvel Studios

Have they told you when that sequel is going to happen? Do you just indefinitely stay in Marvel training camp until they tell you that you’ll be filming? How does that work?

LIU: No. I hope I’m not exposing myself by saying that I’m definitely not forever staying in Marvel training camp. I’m forever being kind to myself and eating good food, and keeping the body nice and warm. You keep the mileage low until you’re absolutely forced to put more miles on it. That’s the philosophy of thought I belong to.

One True Loves is now playing in theaters, is on digital on April 14th, and is on-demand on April 28th.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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