Mayling Ng’s The Suicide Squad Interview: Training for Mongal

The Suicide Squad is the latest DC film from Warner Bros., and it features a team of supervillains as they work together on a mission to save the world. The downside is that their necks are implanted with a bomb, so if they do something to upset Director Amanda Waller, they’ll go bye-bye. Nerd Reactor had the chance to chat with Mayling Ng, who plays Mongal and member of the Suicide Squad. She talks about her audition, challenges with training and maintaining her physique, the makeup process, and fond memories of the film.

Even with Ng having a role in a DC movie before, she still had to audition for The Suicide Squad.

“I was Orana in Wonder Woman a few years before, but this was just an audition that an old agent actually called me up,” Ng said. “And then they said, ‘Can you go in for this audition on Monday?’ It was Friday, and it just said James Gunn and ‘creature.’ I actually went in and I thought I goofed up. I sat there, at the time, just kind of sitting there going, ‘Oh, God, you just messed this up.’ I’m sitting there really intense and kind of like, ‘Grrrrrr,’ anyway, because that’s what I do when I’m upset with myself. And now knowing what Mongal is like, I think they’re like, ‘That’s Mongal!’ Because I was sitting there just growling and Mongal growls. They told me three days later that I was offered the role and then they gave me the name and what the film was for, and my head just blew off; it fell down. It was just like, ‘Oh my lord!’ It’s crazy.”

Mayling Ng’s roles have been action-packed. In Wonder Woman, she can be seen swinging on a rope while doing archery. In The Suicide Squad, she can be seen hanging on the side of a helicopter. Even with the different action pieces, the actor reveals what was the most challenging part of doing The Suicide Squad.

“The only challenge is probably myself where I’m just trying to give my best,” Ng said. “Even if I do 18 hours a day on set, I would still try to go to the gym, because you have to maintain that physique for a certain amount. It was hard to train on Wonder Woman because there’s only a certain amount of people allowed in the gym that was on this campus in Italy. But in Atlanta when we filmed The Suicide Squad, it’s hard to have the hours and the times. It’s hard to keep your training up. So I had plenty of time to prepare. But it was the nutrition that I had to manipulate because I can get very fluffy. I train really hard and my macros have to be precise for me to maintain a certain physique because I love my dim sum, my pizza, and whatever. I don’t want to go up to the costume and say, ‘I don’t fit in this anymore.’ I don’t want to do that to the film. So I’m pretty hard on myself where I’m trying to forfeit sleep and try to maintain what they paid me for. So that was the biggest challenge. Sometimes I was in the makeup chair and I couldn’t get to breakfast or lunch, and then they’ll get it for me. They would get me the foods that I couldn’t eat, and they just didn’t understand. So it was hard to just try to have that food in my trailer when I did have a break.”

The makeup process for a non-human character can be challenging, but it was something that Ng was willing to do for her role.

“I mean, that was four hours, and we’ve got it down to under three, I think at the end,” Ng said. “And that was okay. You kind of zone into it. The worst bit was probably at the end where they put the face on. That’s when you really feel like your face is starting to drag. You feel like your face is dragging after five hours or six hours and it melts, so everything just feels like it’s hanging off. It’s like you dive headfirst into chewing gum, and you’re really sticky. I couldn’t sit down on seats. I’ll come up and my legs would be gone. My arms would be gone if I did that. [Mayling mimicks lifting her arms from a seat’s armrest.] You wouldn’t sit down and relax for the whole time, but that’s nothing. I’m willing to do that.”

“But probably the hardest thing after a hard day of being on set and going through the makeup is then getting it off,” Ng added. “They would put sealant on it because they didn’t want me to stick onto chairs and stuff. They will seal it, and then I couldn’t get it off. So there were a few times where they panicked a little bit. They were rubbing with alcohol and smelly chemical stuff. And then they got me a sauna to sweat it off. And we’re in Atlanta, and you’ve been sweating all day, and now you got to go into a sauna. So that was tough. But it’s just part of the job, and to be Mongal, I’ll do it every day. I love Mongal.”

With all the challenges, it’s being on the set with the cast and crew that makes Ng very excited about the project.

“I was on the beach, and I was in the chopper, and I’d look around and just see all these characters and these very flamboyant, James-Gunn-detailed costumes, and I would think I was dreaming,” Ng said. “I can’t believe it. I had some dialogue with them. [Margot Robbie] and I would sit there and just be like, ‘Really? Am I alive?’ Like this is amazing. I’m sitting there, and Nathan [Fillion] was joking with Pete [Davidson] and stuff. And then going on the beach, it’s just a really cool scene with music playing. I mean, we got paid for doing it. It was great. It was a win-win situation. And James Gunn’s giving you directions and you just feel like it’s a fantastic lifetime opportunity that I hope would repeat again.”

There’s one scene that meant a lot to Ng, and it’s the scene featuring the Suicide Squad walking in front of the American flag.

“The cast and the ensemble and just being with the squad, walking down the helipad at the airport with the American flag behind me,” Ng said of another favorite scene. “I think I was going for my green card at the time as an actor, and there was this American flag behind me and I’m walking down as a supervillain for DC Comics. And I’m just looking and I’m going, ‘It doesn’t get better than this.’ I came to this country to go for this, and I’m doing it in front of the big American flag with all of these cool actors and friends. We’re all in these crazy costumes, and there’s like 100 production [crew members] over there and music’s playing. And I think that was probably one of the best days, even though it was hot and sticky. But you know, it was just a very cool day, and I was just very thankful to be there.”

Check out the video interview below:

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