PEN15 Star Dallas Liu’s career continues to grow. Not only was he recently featured in Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender but he made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Shang-Chi.
ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Dallas Liu about participating in a Marvel Studios movie, working with Awkwafina and his upcoming roles.
Tyler Treese: It’s an exciting time in your career. You have done so many great shows like PEN15. Now you have Shang-Chi and you are joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. How exciting is it to just join in? It’s the biggest in movies and on TV right now.
Dallas Liu: I’m still trying to like, I guess, suck it all up because it all goes pretty quickly. I mean, in my acting career, not so many things happened at once. So, I mean, luckily I have a great support system with my friends and family to keep me going, but yeah, I’m still in shock. I’m still trying to soak it up. I mean, obviously I’m enjoying it and, sorry, wait … I’m still trying to soak up whatever happens, but yeah.
So, for those who haven’t seen Shang-Chi, who are you playing against?
My character in the MCU, I play Awkwafina’s younger brother. That’s all I can really tell you because that’s all I really know. I actually have no idea what this whole story is about because Marvel hadn’t even sent me the full script yet. I only have my scenes and that’s all I really had to work with.
How was the collaboration with Awkwafina? She is so funny and so talented.
Working with Awkwafina was probably one of the most influential experiences I’ve had in the industry. I was also allowed to spend time with her and she has given me a lot of good advice, personally and for my career. So, she’s someone I admire a lot and she’s just a great person. I mean, even on set, she’s such a hard worker and she pays attention to the details and things like that. So all in all, just a great person.
This film is a great portrayal of Asian representation. From a personal point of view, what does it mean for you to be involved in this project?
I mean, I think it’s just an honor to be part of the first true Asian superhero that Marvel is contributing to. I am grateful to have such a supportive family and to be in this industry. You know, I have a feeling that in Asian cultures it doesn’t really matter to go the riskier path in life, you know? So I’m happy to be able to represent my community in this industry.
Yeah, and it really speaks to how far the representation is, that we’ve got Asian superheroes because we’ve had great martial arts movies, Jackie Chan doing comedies and so on. But before that it was Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles and very offensive roles. It just got so far that you could act as any character in any film and it makes a lot of sense and you are no longer typed. This must be as refreshing for a young actor like you.
Yes. And there are definitely a lot more options that open up even for regular roles, not even like something in particular. Just a lot of the roles I started auditioning for are just very open ethnicity most of the time, you know? So it’s good to see that with all of the different media platforms putting out new shows and movies, content is constantly being produced. It’s almost open to everyone now.
I read that Power Rangers inspired you to learn martial arts. I need to know who your favorite ranger was?
I was in a big mood SPD, and I would probably say a Blue Ranger. Blue ranger in SPD I have to look back on some of them. I liked to dress up in costumes and knew fights. That kind of inspired me to do martial arts, which is really fun, but yeah, I loved falling asleep with them, holding them in my hands, had a whole collection and everything.
I know martial arts put you in one of your first roles as Jin Kazama in the Tekken movie. You were so young, do you remember that experience? And Tekken is still a very popular fighting game. Are you a big gamer or did you play the Tekken games?
When I was younger, I used to play it on Xbox 360 with my brother. I actually didn’t use Jin Kazama that much when I was playing the game. Surprisingly, I was really into the panda.
But this experience for me gave me an insight into a possible future career, because at the time I was just strong in martial arts, constantly training every day, going to tournaments every weekend and the like. So, I mean when I got older it was acting, and that entertainment industry was something I was researching because of a martial artist that was in it.
Do you still practice martial arts?
I try to keep up. I don’t train competitively, I would say. I think martial arts is a great way to keep your mind and body in tip-top shape.
We just had this huge Avatar casting news that is so exciting. You play Zuko, the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation, such an iconic character. How exciting is it for you to get this role?
I was tearing up when I found out I got Zuko. I mean, of course, I’m a fan of the show too. It’s a great honor to be able to play him. I mean, he’s by far my favorite character on the show, and I think he’s just a lot of people’s darling. So, I’m really excited to take on that.
And Avatar is such a crucial show in that it’s kind of anime-style, but it was a western production and it was kind of like a wake-up call. There was a stigma with anime from western studios, and that kind of thing said, “Hey, this can be huge, this can be a huge series.” Are you a fan of anime?
Oh i love anime. I love anime. There was a point where I couldn’t even watch TV. It was like trying to get through like all fountain pens and just like getting through like One piece or what Naruto Fillers.
Oh i feel you there I’m a fan of Detective Conan and it has over a thousand episodes, far too many. You mentioned One Piece. What are some of your favorite anime?
So Naruto is like what really got me into anime. My favorite character of these is probably Itachi. But I watch Hunter X Hunter, Jujutsu Kaisen is amazing, i love this show. Let’s see, Tokyo Ghoul is like, uh, it’s fine. I mean dude I’d have to pull up a list cause I can’t picture it in my head, but how Haikyuu, Demon Hunter of course … yeah i mean i love anime so much.
That’s great. PEN15 was so hilarious and Shuji is such a cool character. You’re the cool brother, you know, your quote, don’t quote a lot, sister is a little embarrassing to you. How fun it is to play Anna and Maya, I mean they are so hilarious.
Yes. I mean, every shot we do on set somehow ends with a little improvisation or we just keep going on the scene just to see if we can make something of it. And I mean, I enjoyed being on set so much. It’s such a relaxed and comfortable environment, um, to be with them.
I heard that last season was pretty wild. They had the forest fires that changed locations everywhere. How was the experience shooting this?
Extremely unpredictable. I mean, we were in the middle of filming, um, more of PEN15, and then COVID arrived. And literally like in the middle of, uh, in the middle of filming, we were just kicked out because of COVID. So there was only a ton going on. Um, I feel this way even in some people’s personal lives, so we just take it all at once every day and be careful about every single action we take.
Are you interested in speech output?
Yes absolutely. I mean, I’m not the biggest fan of dub anime, you know I’m a big sub-person. I think this is just the way to go, but if there was the chance to play a character in an anime and they wanted me to dub the voice over, I would do it, you know? Yeah, I mean, I think there is an anime Tokyo Avenger that was like creating a lot of attraction in the manga and anime universes, so yeah.
So, let’s go. Actor Dallas. You would be great
My final question here, you have played so many different roles. Are there any other types of movies or shows that you would like to be in that really show off different aspects of your acting skills?
I think, specifically, I would like some, some drama. I feel like this could add a lot to my résumé just because most of the things I’ve done before are comedies. So, yeah, I want to be rounded as much as possible. I mean, I’m still at the very beginning of my career, so I really take advantage of every opportunity I have to show what I’m capable of.