Interview with David Yip
By Ralph van den Broeck
At the 2003 Collectormania 3 convention, TIE.c was given the opportunity to interview various actors from the Indiana Jones Trilogy, one of them being David Yip, who played the part of Wu Han in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. While his role in the film overall, was short, it made a great impact on the Indiana Jones community and gave fans a look at an interesting character. We now present to you the exclusive interview with David Yip, conducted by Ralph van den Broeck.
So David, how do you look back at those few minutes that every Indiana Jones fan remembers?
Well it was very enjoyable. It was my very first film part. When I was told that I was going to work with Harrison Ford I was very excited. The working with Harrison and Spielberg was great. So I was very thrilled and nervous. The only thing was when I arrived on the set, I met Steven Spielberg for the first interview and I got the job and then Harrison Ford hurt his back during filming, I don't know if you remember this, but eventually had to go back to America and his back sorted out and so in actual fact, I went to the wrap party on Sunday before I started work. Because they arranged the end of shoot party, and they decided not to cancel it, so I went to the wrap party first and then I did my first day of shooting. So that was quite historical. I have got to say that working with Harrison Ford AND Steven Spielberg were just amazing to work with. They are just great human beings and I felt very comfortable. They were great, they were great, particularly Harrison Ford, you know he came to acting quite later actually, and you really appreciated what he had already and that made them all treat everybody, in a really nice way. This doesn't happen always in films I've got to say.
Wu Han was a great friend of Indy. His role was brief in the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, so did you receive instructions on how to play him? Or did you have to imagine the character yourself?
Well actually the interesting thing was that when we were setting up the shots, I was dressed in my costume, and then Steven said: “Oh, no, no, you must have a scar, on his head." So I said, "Why?" "Because you saved his life in a previous adventure!” I said, “Oh, so when are we going to film that?” So it’s detail like that, that’s fantastic. He gave me that much to work with, after that, we were close friends [Indy and Wu Han], but then he dies [Wu Han]. And for two seconds he’s [Indy] very sorry and then the film carries on.
Wu Han followed Indy on many adventures, and in Temple of Doom, Wu Han went first. In the latest Indiana Jones game Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb, Wu Han is also featured. Have you ever played the game or is this the first time you heard of it?
It’s the first time I heard of it. I appear in a game?
Am I any good? (Laughs)
You can run very fast!
Alright. Well umm no, I don’t know about the game. I know nothing about computer games.
In the Indiana Jones series, Lucas often recycles his actors. If you ever been approached by Lucas for Indiana Jones 4, what would be your reaction?
Oh yeah, it would be great, but I’m dead! (Laughs) Maybe if it’s a flashback or… Yeah, I'd love to. But to work with those people, that sort of time again, would be fantastic. I worked with Steven Spielberg once again before, I was in 'Empire of the Sun'. Yeah, it would be wonderful. I would really love it. They care an awful lot. I've done Bond movies as well, but they make it feel like a family. And that's very important, you know, and they are very good at what they do, and care a lot, and that's great, and for an actor, that's fantastic.
How did you get the part of Wu Han?
Long before you were born actually I did series called “The Chinese Detective” in Britain . So I suppose I was quite well known, and one night my agent rang and he says "Steven wanted to see you." I thought he was joking. But it turned out he did, I went to the 20th Century Fox office in London and met Steven Spielberg. And he said, “I've seen your series and I liked your series, would you like to come into the film?” And I said, “Yes please!”
What kind of a character is Wu Han in your opinion and in your words do you think his role in the film was?
Indy has all kinds of contacts. Wu Han is quite young in the film but even so, obviously, he was happy to die for Indy and obviously, he [Wu Han] saved Indy’s life once before so I suppose he's a great symbol of Indy’s love of life but also how Daredevil he was as well. Deeper than that, I don't even go, it's that kind of film.
What do you think about Indy 4 going ahead?
Another Indy film would be fine. The other were really fantastic. So I imagine it's the last one they'll do. So, why not? It's great entertainment, One two and three were fantastic so I imagine they’ll do but why not?
The Indy Experience.com is one of the most visited Indy Fan websites. Because we wanted to give our visitors the opportunity to ask a few questions to the actors, we set up a contest to win a picture signed by you. We got a question from Dennis and he says that Spielberg promised you to use you in another film because he liked your work in Temple of Doom . You played a small part in Empire of the Sun, but it got cut. Are you going to play in another Spielberg film soon or do you think he has forgotten you?
Well I don’t feel forgotten. I think Spielberg thinks a lot of actors and is very busy. I would be very honored a privilege to work with him again. I hope it would last a bit longer then in Temple of Doom.
A special thanks to David Yip, Ralph van den Broeck, and the people at Showmasters for giving us the chance to conduct our interview.