You know very little about Shang-Chi, and probably even less about Asian-Canadian actor Simu Liu.
Introducing Simu Liu playing the titular role of Shang-Chi in the upcoming superhero film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Liu’s casting marks him as the first Asian actor to be cast in a major leading Marvel role. Riding the waves of kung-fu mania in the 1970s, phase four of the Marvel Universe will see the titular Shang-Chi tussle with the Ten Rings (first mentioned in Iron Man) and eventually face the leader of the terrorist group: the Mandarin. Sadly, the enigmatic warlord isn't played by Sir Ben Kingsley but, gladly, the role is played by Tony Leung.
With the casting of Liu as Shang-Chi, we pulled together five things to know about him before Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hit theatres in 2021:
1. He studied accounting at university (and hated every minute of it)
Studying and graduating with accounting at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School to fulfil his parents’ expectations, Liu later worked at accounting giant Deloitte for less than a year before he was let go. “I was miserable at this job, just as I was miserable as a student,” he says. “I really didn't feel like I was living the most purposeful version of my life at all."
But, if Liu had not chosen to pursue acting, we wouldn't be blessed with these GIFs.
2. Like his on-screen character in Kim's Convenience, Simu's immigrant background informs his perspective in his personal life
Some of you might have caught him as a guest star on ABC’s Fresh Off The Boat. Most fans will recognise him from Kim’s Convenience, a comedy-drama centred on the everyday lives of an immigrant family who own a convenience store. Liu plays Jung Kim, the son with a rebellious streak struggling to reconcile his place in life and his family.
In an interview, Simu shares how his personal experience of growing up in an immigrant household informed his character's relationship with his on-screen father, Mr. Kim or 'Appa'. Conversely, playing Jung Kim has also opened Simu up to reconcile differences within his own family. Drawing on his own experiences of growing up in an immigrant family, Liu has produced short films based on those memories as well as having written for the Canadian TV drama series, Blood and Water.
"If I were to give any advice to actors starting out—specifically Asian-American, Asian-Canadian, Asian-British actors—it would be that you can't necessarily wait for the perfect role to drop into your lap, and that sometimes you have to create the opportunities for yourself," says Liu. We concur.
3. Simu Liu is actually Shang-Chi in disguise
The down-to-earth actor shared his love and flair for martial arts in a video, casually whipping nunchucks in a helicopter spin without missing a beat (what, like it’s hard?) whilst his Malamute-Siberian husky watches from a corner, as if unimpressed.
What my dog has to put up with pic.twitter.com/yYh1jKHh6V
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) July 8, 2019
4. Is it just me or does that guy in the stock photo look like Marvel's first Asian superhero?"
It probably is. Before his rise to fame, Liu worked many jobs to support himself—one of which including modelling for stock photos. Here, Simu plays a ‘healthy associate, chuffed to be giving an engaging presentation in the meeting room while colleagues gather around in enthusiastic appreciation’.
In this gem, Simu is the ‘wholesome employee you could have the good fortune to work with if you would like to apply for a position with our team’.
What did we learn? Hustle and heart will set you apart.
5. Who knew that you could get a job by tweeting for it?
Ask, and you shall receive.
Noticing the distinct lack of diversity and nuanced representation in Hollywood casting for people of colour, Liu campaigned for Marvel to introduce more POC representation in a now-famous tweet:
Hey @Marvel, great job with Cpt America and Thor. Now how about an Asian American hero?
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) July 17, 2014
In yet another tweet shared, Liu jokingly (but really, not joking) addresses his earlier tweet when news of Shang-Chi in the works potentially gracing the screen began to circulate:
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) December 3, 2018
The decision to cast Liu was made two days later after his screen test and after the day of the announcement, Liu gave a statement:
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) July 21, 2019
We can hardly wait.
Shang-chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings is slated to be released on February 12, 2021.