It was a bit of a strange morning at the Iron Fist press conference yesterday (March 31). Some of the reasons for that were understandable: Having flown in just the night before, actors Finn Jones (Danny Rand), Jessica Stroup (Joy Meachum) and Tom Pelphrey (Ward Meachum) seemed a little tired and jetlagged. But after all the news about the whitewashing controversy and the bad reviews for Iron Fist (see our review), I was keen to see if the cast or showrunner Scott Buck were going to address it at the press conference.
Perhaps a more accurate term would be ‘so-called press conference’. Because there was no time allocated for the media to ask questions at all, resulting in a rather rehearsed sort of corporate presentation. This meant that all my questions about the controversies or the upcoming Defenders series got tossed out the window. Not to mention a room full of bewildered local media, who presumably went off to sharpen their claws before filing scathing reports.
Nevertheless, there were some interesting tidbits that came out of the event. When asked if he had looked to other martial arts films for inspiration, Buck named the Ip Man films as a point of reference.
“Just in terms of research, me and the other writers watched as many martial arts movies as we possibly could…I’m a big fan of the Ip Man series with Donnie Yen, and what we responded to about those movies is that the martial arts felt more real and that people were not being lifted by wires and flying through the air. We wanted the martial arts to feel more grounded in that way.”
Jones seemed quiet and relatively unassuming in person. Maybe it was the jetlag. Or maybe he was afraid of putting his foot – or is it his fist – in his mouth again, like when he said one reason critics didn’t like Iron Fist was down to their dislike of Donald Trump. But he did seem sincere when talking about how Danny Rand was trying to piece his life back together after spending 15 years in K’un Lun. Jones, who played Ser Loras Tyrell, spoke of how he sent in a tape for Iron Fist after his last day of filming on Game of Thrones, and how it took months for Marvel to get back to him.
Pelphrey was a lot more animated and gung-ho (not to mention a lot more good looking than his on-screen persona). Before the session started, the hosts gave a set of Singlish vocabulary cards to the actors as a gag gift, but Pelphrey was the only who tried to insert a bit of Singlish into his response about the casting process.
“I got an audition for a project that was called “Something Strange”…So I put [my audition] on tape and sent in the tape, and forgot about it…about a month and a half later I got a call saying that they wanted to test me for this project. I was very flattered but I still had no idea what the project was…and I thought that they were xiao. But at the same time I was a little kiasu and so I thought, maybe I should look into it a little more!”
Pelphrey was also enthusiastic when talking about acting alongside geek favourites David Wenham, who plays his father Harold Meachum, and Carrie-Anne Moss a.k.a. Jeri Hogarth. He called Wenham “wildly talented”, and said that his onscreen father was a “very, very, very funny human being”. Pelphrey, a fan of The Matrix, then described how he reverted back to his 16-year-old self when he realised that he was going to share a scene with Moss.
And while Jones had to remain understandably tight-lipped on the subject of The Defenders, he did say that they had just finished filming for it last week. He also let slip that Krysten Ritter, who plays fan favourite Jessica Jones, managed to kick a stuntman in the face and split his face. Niiice. (But that poor stuntman!)
Unfortunately, the proverbial elephant in the room remained unmentioned by both the hosts and the actors, until a journalist sitting next to me asked Jones about his reaction to all the bad reviews. The answer? “The people that I see on the street, there’s a hugely overwhemingly positive response from the fans, and I’m very thankful for that.”
Okay then. If you say so.