[If you want to read this article in portuguese, click here.]

Séries da TV was with Benedict Wong at the press conference and panel held on the 14th and 15th of September at Comic Con Portugal 2019. We also got a chance to interview the actor, you can find the interview transcrip at the end of this article.

The actor, known for his roles in Marco Polo and Deadly Class, came on stage in a Hawaiian shirt, a straw hat and a very laid-back look, which was proven to be his own personality during the time we were talking with him. The first question was about his role in Dr. Strange and the MCU universe as Wong (yes, believe me it was easy to get into the skin of a character of the same name). The chance to play this role amazed Benedict; when he was a child he read comics, played with action figures and now, as an adult, he found himself wearing the skin of a character from this universe. Incidentally, for Wong, the world of superheroes is currently spectacular as we had the opportunity to see all the MCU movies culminating in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame.

Abandoning the Marvel universe and going back to the time of Kublai Khan, Wong’s Marco Polo character, the actor was asked about his preparation for a historical role of a character that not only actually existed but was one of most powerful men in the world. Wong revealed to know a great deal about the history, not only of Kublai, but also of his grandfather, noting that Kublai was one of the pioneers on the concept of international markets, being a man who worked very much according to his own instincts, surrounded himself with the right people and was clinging to power. Basically, rather than research, Benedict attempts to represent the principle that moved Kublai, a phrase that was immortalized by Shakespeare: Heavy is the head that wears the crown.
We then asked Wong a question about the roles that asian actors and actors of asian descent typically receive, about they tend to fall into the same categories, such as martial arts roles. Benedict told us that as a child he worked at his parents’ shop in England and, because he had no money to spend on theatre tickets, the people at the theatre would let him in for free when possible, which triggered his passion for theatre and movies. After some time working in the industry, he felt that they did not see him as an English actor, but that they judged him by his skin color and gave him stereotypical roles, such as being the cook, the servant or the gangster. However, he reached a point in his career where he had to separate himself from it, refusing these roles and turning to theatre, where he achieved more success. Currently, he feels that this kind of discrimination is finally changing.
The next question was about the factors that Wong considers relevant for the sparking of his career recently. He recalled the three years in which he was not working as an actor, but managing the career of other actors, which led him to learn more about the field. When he returned to doing theatre, he made a series of plays that made him famous and he was even recommended by Sir Ian Mckellen. Shortly after, he was chosen for two plays that had stories that Wong wanted to tell, but whose schedules overlapped for a week. Since he was representing himself, he decided that he would do both and that the dates would have to be changed. It worked well and he got both roles, which made him realize that he was an artist.
Finally, Avengers: Endgame was mentioned again and Wong discussed the challenge of not being able to disclose any information about the movie for so long. Since it was project that was under construction for 10 years and they were all very dedicated, it was not a big difficulty to respect the piece and work of all of the involved.

If you want to know more about Wong’s performance at Marco Polo, or find out what he thinks about Deadly Class, you can read the INTERVIEW we had with him:

As we walked into the interview room, we came across Wong standing motionless in a display case pretending to be a statue, which immediately gave us an indication of what came next: a 5 minutes conversation with a relaxed, fun and friendly person.

SDTV: One of Marco Polo‘s most iconic scenes is the battle of Kublai (character played by Wong) against Ariq. How was the experience of recording this battle? Did you use a stunt double?

Wong: It took a lot of hours to record this battle and we had a pretty good fight choreography coordinator. I wish I had done all my scenes, but they wouldn’t let me, and at one point it was a double, although most of it I did myself.

SDTV: It worked, because it really gave the impression that it was a battle that might have happened.

Wong: (laughs) Good thing, that’s the impression we want to give to the audience.

SDTV: Unfortunately, the series was cancelled. Do you think there would still be story for more seasons?

Wong: Of course I do. Kublai became one of the most powerful men in the world and had many more achievements to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, sometimes these decisions happen, but there was still a lot more to tell, enough for at least three more seasons!

SDTV: Maybe we will have the chance to see a movie that allows the show to end with dignity?

Wong: At this stage there is nothing on the table, but it is entirely possible. I know I would like that and I wish we could go on.

SDTV: You were also part of Deadly Class. What do you think about the dichotomy between being a show full of violence when the cast and characters are almost all young?

Wong: I don’t think about this dichotomy very much, because the series addresses a parallel theme: it’s a murder academy, so violence is normal. Those young people are there to learn to be murderers. Another series that had potential for much more, but unfortunately was cancelled early.

SDTV: Any idea on what the plot for season 2 would be?

Wong: No, the screenwriters never told me, but I know there was a story to that. Maybe someday we will have the opportunity to get back on that show.

SDTV: And what other projects are you currently doing that you can share with us?

Wong: I made two films that will come out in the near future, I had a role in Project Gemini and Nine Days. In addition, I also performed Bull’s voice in Lady and the Tramp animation, which will be one of Disney’s upcoming live actions.

SDTV: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.

Wong: I appreciate the questions.

Basically, he was always an available and friendly person throughout Comic Con Portugal.