Simu Liu talks about SNL, online trolls, fighting their parents over the bill and their new ‘inclusive’ campaign with Google

Just got off a flight in Toronto after hosting Saturday night live, and Simu Liu, Marvel’s first Asian superhero, is Ten Rings Out of Stock. And rejoiced.

The Mississauga-raised actor had just hit the historic SNL stage at 30 Rock with musical guest Saweetie. He was praised by critics for his impeccable timing, enthusiastic delivery, and sympathy. Before hosting in New York, Liu had been filming a movie in Wilmington, North Carolina.

It’s been a while since you’ve set foot on Canadian soil.

Our conversation, as any respectable interview should be, quickly veers toward food. The actor’s first meal at home? Peking duck and lobster with their parents at Foodie North, a Chinese restaurant in Mississauga. Liu said that she had been craving the dishes that reminded her of home for quite some time and that sharing a meal with family and friends is what she looks forward to the most today. We talked about our shared love for Fishman Clubhouse, a Scarborough mainstay serving towering Jenga block platters of crab legs and seafood.

Liu joined me for a Canadian exclusive with The Star to discuss how he handles trolls online, healing his relationship with his parents, and how he was once a stuntman for Pete Wentz in Fallout Boy. music video.

Liu has had many roles in her 32 years. He was a star in “Kim’s Convenience,” the beloved CBC series that also airs on Netflix. Liu expressed his frustrations in public after the show closed following the departure of its co-creators and showrunners.

The part Liu is perhaps best known for is playing the first Asian superhero in a Marvel movie. The film “Shang-Chi” broke box office records and grossed more than $ 431 million (US) in sales worldwide. Liu could be credited with manifesting his own Marvel fate with a tweet in 2014, years before Marvel’s announcement.

Simu Liu spoke to Star on a Canadian exclusive following his recent stint as a Saturday Night Live host.

So SNL. That’is what everyones talking. Did you and Lorne bond over your shared Canadian character?

Absolutely. It was one of the first things he said to me. It’s kind of a joke amongst the entire SNL cast that Lorne will always say he went to the same high school as Drake. He definitely told me that, and then he told me to relax and, you know, trust the process.

I was very nervous going in, but everyone in the cast and writing team did an amazing job making me feel right at home. I mean, it was, it was a lot. By Thursday, we were already rehearsing, I was doing photoshoots, and we were at Jimmy Fallon. I felt more and more exhausted.

And I remember asking Lorne and Lindsay Shookus, who was my producer during my week, why they carried so much in the back. They said that tiredness is a comedian’s best friend. That’s basically their philosophy, the more tired you are, the less you are in your head. It’s true.

Simu Liu spoke about the heartfelt letter she wrote in a post four years ago that completely changed her relationship with her parents.

The Your Maclean article is the shared story of other children of immigrant parents. The frustration of never living up to their expectations, the fear of disappointing them. You’ve accomplished so much since then, how has your relationship (with your parents) changed and how do you feel now?

That is a really wonderful question. Yes, I would say that in the first place, that The Maclean Article it was truly the beginning of a complete renewal of my relationship with my parents. It was always difficult for us to connect, we never really spoke.

And they became very thoughtful and somewhat self-aware of what they had done in the past, but they also realized that there was a lot of time left to be intentional about our relationship in the future.

When I was screen testing for the Marvel role, I was able to talk to them and usually trying to talk to your Asian parents about something like that, you wouldn’t expect a lot of emotional support, but they were fantastic. They were so reassuring and a lot like ‘look, regardless of whether you understand this or not, we’re so proud of you’ … and after I got the part, they were one of the first people I called. We were able to experience the surreality of that moment together and they were with me when we released the film in August of this year.

He was so frustrated the other day, because we were trying to book his flights to Los Angeles because you know, I just bought a house there, I really wanted to show you the city, but we had to do it on their terms, because that’s mom and dad. , so my parents had been searching the internet for a good deal on Expedia.

I was pulling my hair out because the reason I work so hard is so that we can have the flexibility to say, if you want to travel on this day, you can get that ticket that day, but my parents said, absolutely not, they refused roundly. And it’s another one of the things that keeps driving me crazy for them, but, you know, in a very loving way.

I love that fiscal responsibility will never cease to be an issue with Asian parents, no matter where you are in your success.

I still have to fight them for the bill. I will always be your little boy. It is difficult for them to accept that you take out the credit card at the end of the meal. So, it has always been a battle.

Simu Liu joined Sesame Street's first Asian-American muppet, Ji-Young, on a special episode of the show that aired on Thanksgiving Day in the US.

He’s been so frank about anti-Asian sentiment and inclusivity and some of the challenges we face. Are you exhausted by that role? Are you taking responsibility or are you just tired of having to be that voice?

I think I’m exhausted for a variety of reasons, and I think that might be part of that. But at the same time, I think the longer I’ve been in Hollywood and Hollywood inner circles, which I suppose now have a seat at the table, I realize how much work there is to do.

My goal is to show other Asian people, other Asian Americans, Asian Canadians, first generation kids, what it means to occupy a space, which means not apologizing because those are qualities that I don’t think we were raised in. with.

I think a lot of Asians see that and appreciate that you are speaking at a time when I think a lot of people are still hesitating because it goes against the way we were raised culturally.

I’ll read reviews in the community like, ‘why is he always so outspoken? Why do you talk about it so much? And I mean, I think it’s valid, and I certainly understand why it may seem that way. But really, I think I feel so disproportionately underrepresented that I feel like I really have to project my voice to compensate for the silence in so many ways. The last thing I want is for the world to forget that hate crimes were committed against our people, to forget that Asians are part of the fabric of Canadian and American society.

The cast of "Kim's convenience," from left to right, Simu Liu, Jean Yoon, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Andrea Bang, Andrew Chung and Nicole Power.

You tweeted a few days ago about worrying too much about the opinions of strangers on the internet. So if you, Simu Liu, a real movie star hanging out in Hollywood’s inner circle, host of SNL, yes you I can’t not sweat the social media trolls, how is the average person supposed to?

It is very difficult. I emerged in a world of social networks. And I will say that for “Kim’s Convenience” logging into social media every day was a joy when I was a part of that program. When your profile is raised to a global level, there is a lot of room for negativity to come in and I think what has been really key for me is realizing that what happens online and offline is completely different. I could be experiencing the worst days of my life online, or so I thought, and then when I walk out the door and out into the street, someone will recognize me and say, ‘OMG, thank you so much for what you do for Asian representation. ‘.

So it’s teaming up with Google for its new Pixel 6 smartphone, with technology that better brings out skin tone. Tell us about it.

It gives me hope that companies like Google are participating in campaigns and projects, and even incorporating elements of diversity and inclusion in the design of their products, which is what really attracted me to the Pixel 6. This idea that this is the camera more inclusive that it ever existed. I am sure you have read the same articles about cameras that fail to capture people with darker skin, they are things like that, an automatic translation that is very advanced, you do not need to be connected to wifi to use it, you can live translate in 47 languages.

Were you really Pete Wentz’s stunt double for a Fallout Boy music video?

Yes, I was. When I was hired, I had short black hair and Pete Wentz was thought to have short black hair too. It was in Kingston, Ontario, in this chapel and we shot a music video. The first day, it was just the stunt doubles, and the second day the band entered. And when Pete shows up, he has platinum blonde hair and we wonder ‘what happened?’ And Pete said ‘oh yeah, I decided to dye my hair yesterday.’ And because of that, unfortunately many of my images were unusable. But if you look at the music video for “Centuries,” there are actually a couple of frames where you can clearly say that it’s me because I have black hair.


We have reached the end of our interview. Liu’s voice is calmer and more reserved than during the interview. Perhaps the intensity of the last few weeks has caught up with him. Maybe it’s the mention of his childhood and his parents that makes him feel introspective.

The conversation has left me optimistic about the number of Asians and people of color who continue to break down barriers in film and media, and the trickle-down effect on representation this can have on other industries and on our lives in general. We still have a long way to go, but having more seats at the table is never a bad thing.

I remember calling my mom, telling her that I love her and that I appreciate her sacrifice as a single immigrant mother who moved three children to the other side of the world to start over in another country because she gave us the opportunity for a better life.

I googled the closest location for the Peking Duck.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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