Interview with Brian Tee on ‘The Wolverine’ and his role as Noburo Mori
Brian Tee has some cool projects coming up. One of them is Mortal Kombat: Legacy Season 2, where he’ll be playing Liu Kang. The other is…oh a little movie called The Wolverine! In the movie, he plays Noburo Mori, a corrupt minister of justice who’s about to have his future wife, Mariko, jacked from Wolverine. We had the chance to chat with Brian about his role in the movie based on Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s Wolverine comic series.
John “Spartan” Nguyen (Nerd Reactor): Did you read the comics before joining the project?
Brian Tee: I was kind of a comic book geek back in the day and I collected the old school comic books, per se. Wolverine had to be one of my most favorite characters, without a doubt. And the X-Men was my favorite team. I read, I collected as much as I could up until I got into sports and girls, and it kind of segued into certain other things. But I’ve always been a geek and fanboy ever since.
NR: You play as Noburo Mori.
Brian Tee: Yup.
NR: Mori reminds me of the Drift King in The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Brian Tee: (laughter)
NR: Both characters are bad guys, they’re both involved with the yakuza, and they’re both supposed to be with this one chick, but the main character steals them away.
Brian Tee: That’s absolutely true, dude. That’s absolutely true. Yeah. It’s kind of a coincidence. Maybe I’m just good at playing the bad guy who gets the chick stolen from her guy. That is really good, actually. That’s impressive. I’d never make that correlation at all. That surprised me.
NR: Do you speak Japanese in the movie?
Brian Tee: I do. Noburo Mori is a native Japanese politician. But he’s been well-educated, and educated in the English language, so he speaks in both languages in the movie.
NR: Is there an action scene for you, or do you get just the Minister of Justice-type scenes?
Brian Tee: Well, pretty much just the Minister of Justice/politician. I won’t give too much away where the action is concerned. But, I think Noburo Mori is one of the pivotal characters in the sense of good and evil. He rides a fine line between the two. Just like all politicians. Rightfully so. He’s got this great inner power, and it causes havoc with his political ties, and it’s connected throughout all of Tokyo. So I guess in the sense of the action sequences, you’ll have to wait and see.
Brian Tee: Unfortunately, that’s all I can say. But I’ll say this much, this Wolverine is going to be so action-packed, it’s ridiculous. They’ve pulled out all the stops. I’ve been a part of a few larger big-budget action movies, and I’ve never been in one of this scope and size that they’ve taken The Wolverine to. What’s great about this, along with all that, it’s really a character journey.
It’s really a character journey of Logan. And you really see him struggle through his way and his inner turmoil. You really connect with this movie and who the Wolverine is than in any other X-Men or Wolverine movies.
NR: A lot of fans were trying to guess what year the Wolverine movie took place. Many of them wish that it wasn’t set after X-Men Part III.
Brian Tee: Well, what’s interesting about this movie is that it’s all connected in-world and in the same saga that is X-Men and Wolverine, but it really extends itself. It’s kind of an origin story of the Wolverine and his path through life, the search for himself, for him to become who he really is. I think the fans will really love and relate to Wolverine like they never have in any other movie. I think what really brought this movie to life and separated it from the others, I think, is what James Mangold did with the character and the development, along with the amazing action. He really made an incredible blockbuster movie with so much depth and character. It’s the one that fans will really, really enjoy and love.
NR: I want ask you, since you’re in The Wolverine and Mortal Kombat Legacy – if Wolverine were to fight Scorpion, who do you think would win?
Brian Tee: If Wolverine were to fight Scorpion? Wow, that’s a good one. It has to be Wolverine because you can’t bust him. He’s immortal and the ultimate healer. Whatever Scorpion did to him, he’d just heal and come back from it. Wolverine is still just brute force and fierce. In a sense, I don’t know if Scorpion could handle that. He may be able to tag him here and there, but, overall, I don’t think he’s got the kind of wherewithal that Wolverine has, because Wolverine is the kind of guy, once you start him, you can’t stop him. Also, if Wolverine and Scorpion went at it, whether it’s a long fight or a short fight, I don’t think he could extend to the level that Wolverine can. I would put my money on Wolverine, for sure.
NR: All right, Brian votes for Wolverine. As for the Tokyo Drift, I wanted to ask if you were able to really practice drifting?
Brian Tee: I actually have. They definitely wanted me to be able to learn at least the technique of drifting for the movie. So we spent a couple days out at Irwindale Speedway training to drift, with some of the best stunt drift drivers in the world. These guys are ridiculous. And I don’t know if you guys know what marks are in the film business, but marks are basically where if there’s a scene and you’re walking or moving around in the camera, you have to hit a certain mark, say if you’re doing all this stuff, for camera. They’ll place a dot or a piece of tape or whatever on the ground to hit. These stunt drivers, with their cars doing ridiculous drifts and 360s and whatnot will hit their mark on every take. They will hit their mark with their cars better than I can walking. It’s ridiculous.
NR: Oh wow.
Brian Tee: So yeah. All due respect to every single one of those stunt driver guys that did Drift and the other stuff that’s in all car movies. So, yeah. I did learn some, but I’m not going to put myself near the level of experience, caliber and complete pro technique that these guys have. They’re awesome.
NR: So we won’t be seeing any drifting in the Wolverine movie?
Brian Tee: (laughs) No drifting there. It’s gonna be a Wolverine movie. Different character, different capacity, though they do have that similar correlation like you said earlier, both Drift King and Wolverine.
NR: One character that I’m looking forward to seeing in The Wolverine is the Silver Samurai.
Brian Tee: I think everyone is.
NR: Did you get any scenes with him?
Brian Tee: Well, I can’t talk, per se, about the Silver Samurai. I can tell you this much – me being a fanboy myself – I’m excited to see everything that The Wolverine has to offer with the Silver Samurai. It’s the ultimate battle between a Samurais sword and adamantium claws.
The Wolverine slashes into theaters on July 26, 2013.
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