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Interview Roy Horan : gweilo actor and producer in HK
A Westerner in Jackie Chan's Shadow 1/1 - Page 2
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 13/3/2006
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Jackie Chan
Hwang Jang Lee
Yuen Shun Yee
Yuen Woo Ping
< Previous
Page 1 : The Chinese Connection
Next >
Page 3 : The Shooting of Death

Personal Jesus
HKCinemagic : Once again, you play the part of a Russian but this time, disguised as a catholic priest!
Roy Horan : Yeah, why not? (laughs)
HKCinemagic : Do you know where this idea came from?
Roy Horan : Well, I think probably what happened is I came to Hong Kong with long hair and a beard…wearing contact lenses…
HKCinemagic : You looked like Jesus!
Roy Horan : Yeah! People looked at me and said “This guy looks a lot like Jesus!” As a matter of fact, in Chinese, many people would call me “Yesu”. They probably got this idea based on my look…not my demeanour for sure! They probably thought, “It's a good opportunity…we'll dress him up as a priest…make the Jesus connection…and then we'll fool the audience...really destroy them! (laughs)…by showing them that Jesus, the spiritual icon of the western world, is really an evil Russian! (laughs)…and finally, he gets beaten up by a Chinese! There's a famous Chinese saying that goes ‘the reality is unreal and the unreal is real'….in short, confusion happens!
HKCinemagic : Your fighting scene appears in the movie a bit strangely, coming from nowhere and the setting is completely different from the final fight one. Were there some deleted scenes, which may explain the transition?
Roy Horan : There's a time delay in the film. Maybe it didn't come across very well. Actually, I was first introduced as a priest, knocking on doors, soliciting followers and all that sort of thing. Later, there is one scene where Hwang Jang Lee

is giving orders to the bad guys, while I stood there in my black frock, just listening. It's supposed to surprise the audience that the goofy priest is actually with the bad guys. There's no explanation in the film about the priest actually being a Russian or, why is he a priest on one hand…a killer on the other. Next, I'm found stabbing old men with a sharpened crucifix! There are major story gaps as far as the character goes. But, why Russian?..why a priest?...what do I have to do with the Eagle Claw school?...and so forth, who knows? (laughs) It's anybody's guess!

Then, for the final fight, I make a tremendous flying entrance where I actually hurt myself quite badly. They didn't have a stuntman big enough, or hairy enough, for me in the first shot, which was to be a special stunt. So, they asked me to do it. I asked, “What stunt?” Yuen Shun Yi demonstrated it. He jumps off a ladder, hits a trampoline, does a flip in the air slicing with a sword and lands rolling off on the ground. I looked in amazement, “I'm not a stunt guy and I've never done flips”. They said “It's easy!” Being the naïve one, I say, “Well, all right, I'll give it a go”…goofy, stupid guy. So, I jump from the ladder, hit the trampoline, do a slice with the sword, do the flip in the air, but not flipped enough...and come down hard on the ground on my left shoulder…dislocating the shoulder quite badly. It was hanging like this [shows a limp arm, impossible to move and hanging like dead meat]. They are mumbling like “Shit! What do we do now?” Hwang Jang Lee comes over, has a look at the damage…says “Grit your teeth.”… and yanks the bone back in place (clack)…which was pretty painful. Ng and the director, Yuen Woo Ping ask, “What are we gonna do? We've already have a lot of footage on you. Can you move? fight?” I said, “Obviously, I can't use my left hand.” They had begun with swordplay and lots of martial arts in mind so, I said “Let's stick as much as we can with the sword. I'll try to use my legs a bit, and see if we can get through this.” There were two, to two and half days of fighting for the scene. So, just about every take, the shoulder would pop out. And Hwang Jang Lee would come and pop it in again! It was very, very painful….and people thought I was acting angry! I didn't want to see a doctor because the moment I saw a doctor, he would give me a lot of medicine and ask me not to move. I managed to get through the scene, using the sword, and when a Chinese bone doctor finally looked at me, he went, “My God! What have you done to this shoulder?”. “Fighting with it for two days”, I said. He was shocked, “What!”. (laughs) I was a bit disappointed at not being able to use the martial arts I learned from Hwang in the scene…couldn't even do one spinning kick because it takes both arms.

Hwang Vs Chan
HKCinemagic : Did the background of Jackie Chan as a stunt man helped you to do the scene?
Roy Horan : Sure, the guy is fantastic. He handles choreography very well. He has the ability, because of good reflexes and timing, to make his opponent look good. He got a little bit freaked out, however, in this scene because the sword I was using was metal and, if you look closely, there are a few shots where I'm coming in at very high speed striking just above his head. I remember the first time I did that, whoosh, whoosh, he was staring at me, swearing in Chinese, “This @$&*%^#@ guy is going to kill me!” (laughs). The director was concerned, but I told Jackie, “It's OK, I've got enough control. I can stop it anytime, even at that speed”. He was so clever and his reactions so good, he could even compensate for the speed…a very talented guy…but we all know that.
HKCinemagic : What do you remember about the relation between Hwang Jang Lee and Jackie. It's supposed to have been quite tense. People even say Hwang Jang Lee hit Jackie during the fight.
Roy Horan : No, not at all! First of all, Hwang Jang Lee is a real martial artist. Second of all, he's the bad guy. Sometimes, he would look at the good guys (I'm not talking about Jackie here) and wonder why they get most of the lime light, yet, they do a few moves and immediately get out of breath, lose power and so forth. So, I believe there was a part of Hwang that questioned why producers and directors didn't try to improve the action quality of their films by hiring tougher, and more talented, martial artists. The real issue, of course, is target marketing. It's not just about the martial arts. What actors look like and how they perform dramatically has great importance. Hwang was pretty hardcore! (laughs) Although Jackie Chan isn't a hardcore pugilist, he is a very, very talented action performer. He was also very easy to work with.

So, whatever action Hwang did, Jackie would compensate. And whatever action Jackie did, Hwang would compensate. I think that the two of them worked pretty well together. There was no animosity on the set, whatsoever. They were both very professional. So whatever you heard about disagreements (from my perspective and through my friendship with Hwang) is incorrect. As for action actors that were out of shape, even Yuen Woo Ping and other action choreographers would ask them, “What were you doing last night?” The common understanding is that the reason a guy can't perform on set is because he performed in bed the night before...a common joke in shooting kung fu films. There was a lot of this talk going around. “How come you can't do the moves? Who were you with last night?. You smoke too much!”. Hwang Jang Lee had incredible stamina because he also smoked on set, yet he never got out of breath, no matter what. He just kept fighting…and fighting…pretty amazing. He had respect for Jackie.

HKCinemagic : How would they communicate for the choreography. Only through moves I guess?
Roy Horan : Yes. Hwang Jang Lee would look at the choreographed moves. Jackie Chan would also watch the moves. Then, they would try the sequence themselves in slow motion “Do you prefer it like this? Or, like that? Let's speed it up a little bit”. They would then make some changes…. especially Hwang, who was pretty keen about the framing. He's very familiar with lenses, so he knew exactly what was going onto the screen. Whether the director was using medium shots, close ups, low angles etc., he would just look at the camera, its position and know the framing. He was pretty sharp in this way. He would then adapt his moves to the camera. So, if he used his legs for a medium shot, he would make sure his kicking knee and foot were high and within the shot. He was good at this…so was Jackie.
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