TORONTO -- Actress Bingbing Li is about to take the American movie audience by storm. On September 14th, she brings Capcom’s beloved Ada Wong from the Resident Evil game franchise to life on the big screen in Resident Evil: Retribution.
Already a sensation in China, the award-winning actress steps into the role of the secret agent from Organization who plays an important role in the new film. The actress, who does not speak English fluently, talks about starring alongside Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Alice (Milla Jovovich) in the fifth installment of the blockbuster film franchise from the set of the movie in Toronto.
Complex: Were you familiar with Ada Wong before getting this role?
Binbing Li: I didn’t know Ada Wong very well.
Did you know that there was a big fan base of gamers out there?
Yes. I know Resident Evil is a very famous game and a lot of game fans follow these Resident Evil movies. I know Ada Wong is a very famous character in the games, and there is a big fan base for Ada Wong in China. When I got this news from (director) Paul (Anderson) that they invited me to play Ada Wong, everyone was very excited. I was very excited to be Ada Wong.
Are you always in the red dress in this movie?
Yes. I came here twice. The first time I came here, which was also my first time in Toronto, I thought, “Wow, it’s so cold here!” That was in October. Then the second time I came back was in November. The first day when I shot on set, we were in a New York street scene. On Main Street in Toronto, it was 13 degrees.
To be beautiful, you have to feel pain.
It was really cold. But the wind makes me look so cool in the street because it blows up the dress. To be beautiful, you have to feel pain. I can’t wait to watch the movie, especially when the movie is released in China.
Did you change your hair for the role?
No. It’s a wig. It’s not my hair. It’s very funny; our crew, everyone thought this is my own hair. They didn’t even recognize this is fake hair. My hair is long. This is a very exclusive wig. It’s $7,500, so it’s really expensive. Everything had to be done because they wanted to make Ada Wong’s hair perfect. I love it.
What was it like shooting guns on set?
This is the first time I ever shot a gun. The crew gave me gun training before we started filming. The first time I shot the gun on set, I wasn’t nervous. I was just excited. It’s totally different. It’s a real gun, and you shoot on set just like a real assassin. You just don’t care.
What was the action like in this movie?
I really love to do action movies. Most people thought that I was a martial artist. I don’t know why, but I love to do Kung Fu movies. In this movie, we have a scene when I meet Milla in the control room. That scene was amazing. I did a flip in the air with fire; it’s fantastic. I was so excited with that.
How did you get the role?
I’m not really sure how I got this role, but I did audition. After a very few days, they said, “We loved you. We want you to be Ada Wong.” I felt so surprised. It was very quick after doing my audition.
Can you talk about some of the zombies or monsters you have to fight in the film?
I don’t need to fight with the monsters this time. I only fight with Jill (Valentine) and Rain.
What was it like working with Milla?
[Milla] made sure the wardrobe people put on my warm jacket first every time, and then hers.
What’s your role in this film as Ada Wong?
I am the more powerful one and I have to protect the little girl. I have to give Alice time to do her other things.
The Resident Evil video games, after you got cast, did you play any of them?
I watched the game, it’s like a movie online, when I was in China. It’s like homework of what I did.
What did you learn about the game? What surprised you?
I don’t know it very well. After I watch it, I feel I love Ada Wong and the relationship between those characters, Ada with Leon. I know something about Ada, her character and personality. Actually, Ada Wong the character, the personality of Ada Wong is very much like mine.
Everyone treats me very well. The other actors, like Michelle, Sienna, and the lovely Ariana, Colin, Oded, and Johann; at the beginning I feel shy to open my mouth to speaking English. I just thought, “If I don’t open my mouth, I won’t make any mistake with anyone,” so I just keep silent.
Over time we got closer, we know each other. We get familiar with each other, and everyone is kidding around or playing together. We communicate, experience stories. We’re getting closer; we know each other more and more.
Then, I dare to open my mouth to speak more English. Nobody just laughed or laugh at my English. They said, “Your English is amazing.” I know everyone just encourages me, but everyone treats me very nicely and makes me feel like I was in a very cozy family. Everyone is very good here.
Do you find your English has improved throughout the shoot then?
Of course, absolutely.
We heard there’s going to be another movie after this one, another Resident Evil movie. Has anyone spoken to you about that and given you any indication whether you’ll be back for the next ones?
Paul said in the next Resident Evil, he will ask Milla to speak Chinese.
Because when I was on set sometimes I was stuck and he just encouraged me and gave me more confidence. Next time I will ask Milla to speak Chinese. Next movie, nobody knows. You mean Resident Evil 6?
Nobody knows? Ask Paul.
When you started acting back home in China, was it always your ambition to come to America to make films?
If God gives you a big cake, he first has to talk to you a little bit.
Sometimes we don’t have to think about what we’re going to do next. I think a lot of things are given by faith. There’s a philosophy that I live by. If God gives you a big cake, he first has to talk to you a little bit.
Have you found the American fight scenes to be more difficult or easier than in China?
It’s different. There’s a lot of techie things that are happening here that don’t exist over there. For example, how they cut the shots, how they divide up how the shots are taken, from what angle, etc. In China, they stress more of an ability to fight rather then cutting and making it look good.