Collin Chou has been in nearly thirty films, is a former member of Sammo Hung’s Stuntman Team, has worked with Jet Li and some of the best directors in Asian cinema. But his role as Seraph in The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions is that which American audiences know best. He has taken the time out of his busy schedule, and family life, to answer some questions for MXO Stratics and talk with Ian "PhroG" Taylor.
Right off the bat, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy work and family schedule to answer a few questions for us. It really means a lot to us to speak with someone who portrayed such an amazing and important character in the Matrix trilogy and the Matrix game franchise.
How did you find yourself with a pretty major role in two of the most popular and anticipated sequels in the film today?
I worked with Yuen Woo Ping, the martial arts choreographer for the Matrix movies, on the RED WOLF (a Hong Kong movie) and kept in touch over the years. In 1999 when I came to America to learn English, I called Master Yuen to let him Know I was in the US.
I got a call from Master Yuen in July, 2000. He asked me to join his team to work on the pre-production of THE MATRIX 2 & 3 for two months. I worked with them from Aug to Sept, 2000. During that time the Wachowski Brothers asked me if I was an actor and what films I was in. At first I was reluctant to tell them, but when I finally did I was surprised to find out that they have actually watched those Hong Kong movies that I was in!
On the last day of work, I thought that I wouldn't see the Wachowski Brothers again (since Master Yuen didn't ask me to come back and join his team for the actual movies), so I gave them my headshots and demo tape. At that time the Wachowski Brothers had mentioned that they were thinking of offering a role to me. Of course I thought they were just being nice by saying that.
I didn't get a call from THE MATRIX Production office until March 2001. Only then did I realize that the brothers were serious when they said they were considering a part for me.
Are you an avid martial artist? Was that a factor in your casting?
Since I was involved in the pre-production of the Matrix 2 and 3 where I performed martial arts daily for the Wachowski Brothers for 2 months, I would say that martial arts was a key factor in casting me as Seraph!
I started practicing martial arts when I was about 6 or 7 years old. Initially I watched people practice martial arts in parks. It was very interesting because there were so many different types of martial arts. I had a lot of energy and thought it would be fun to do all the kicks and punches.
I studied with 4 different martial arts teachers who taught me various styles. These 4 masters practiced different 'animal' styles which were tiger, crane, leopard and praying mantis. Being so young at that time I really didn't know what styles I was learning. I was just mimicking the moves of my masters. I had a lot of fun when I was practicing martial arts but it also involved a lot of discipline and hard work.
When I left my hometown, Kaohsiung, and moved to Taipei City at age 12, I started to learn Tae kwon do. In Taipei, I continued going to parks to learn different weaponries from the people that practiced there. The sword, broadsword and bo staff were a few of the weapons that I had picked up.
I also learned about "Movie Kung Fu" from working on different films and from watching other stuntmen. During my spare time I would practice the moves I had seen other stuntmen perform. I also picked up tumbling, gymnastics and trampoline skills while working as a stuntman.
A big question that is brought up often is what it's like to work with the Wachowski Brothers, who are notoriously reclusive from the media, and very particular about many things. What was your experience with the brothers during the filming of The Matrix films?
I think that Larry and Andy Wachowski are very intelligent. Because of their comic book background, the Matrix had a unique style to it. During the shooting, they would show us sketches of what they had envisioned the
scenes to look like.
The Wachowski Brothers are also influenced by martial arts films from Asia.They combined the martial arts sequence with their own comic-book style cinematography to create something extraordinary.
Off the set the Wachowski Brothers were like 2 boys. I once visited them in their office and found them playing video games on the floor. Though I must say that they are definitely not rowdy or loud.
You participated in the game Enter The Matrix in addition to being in the films. Did you enjoy making the game, and doing all the motion capture for it? Was it a challenge?
Yes, I enjoyed participating in the making of the Matrix game. My favorite part was my fight scene with Roy Jones Jr. Since my character and Roy's character don't meet in the movie the scene of boxing versus martial arts was especially filmed for the game as a "gift" for the game players.
The martial arts required for the motion caption was not too difficult. Most sequences were filmed separately. However, since I was required to do those movements over and over again, it really was more a test of my endurance.
We also had to do facial capture which was quite interesting. I had to make all sorts of facial movements which corresponded to different sounds. These would later be used to make my character say words.
Fans of the Matrix want to know, Will we be seeing Seraph again? There are rumors of a Seraph-based game or sequel from the folks behind Enter The Matrix, and the developers of The Matrix: Online have promised appearances from film characters in their game. Any news, or even a hint you can give us as to whether you'll be involved in the Matrix franchise again?
As you know, everything with the Matrix is top secret and I can't reveal anything until the online game is out. As to a Seraph based game, perhaps if the fans wrote to Warner Brothers or the Wachowski Brothers requesting the return of Seraph, maybe that will help speed up the process!
And finally, what have you been working on lately? What projects can fans look for you in? What has been keeping you busy?
I'm in talks to do a non-action film, but since nothing is finalized I'm not at liberty to discuss it. As to what has really been keeping me busy other than learning English are my twin boys. They are 16 months now and have endless amount of energy.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. Our readers and Matrix fans everywhere enjoyed hearing from you, and look forward to your work in the future.
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