Asia’s first male supermodel, Godfrey Gao, stands head and shoulders above most models’ work ethic. His physical presence dominates a room and women everywhere love him. But that isn’t why we are here today. Yes, even though last year, for the first time in 157 years, the epitome of French luxury, Louis Vuitton, used an Asian man (Gao) to promote its products. It his most recent accomplishment that has us buzzing. The August 23 release of the blockbuster film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones marks actor Godfrey Gao’s American film debut, and he admitted to us a few nerves during production when we sat down with him. The films are based off a best selling book series so you can be sure this won’t be the last you see of him. Read the full Q&A below…
What brought upon the decision, growing up near the United States your whole life to pursue a career overseas? Did you feel it was more beneficial to your career or you needed a change of scenery?
Godfrey: Before I moved back to Taiwan, I was debating if I should play professional basketball in Taiwan or pursue an acting career. When I visited a TV studio one summer through my brother’s connections, I was introduced to a famous television producer and was given the chance to jump into entertainment transitioning from being an athlete. I took that chance to experiment something totally new & exciting…and of course to brush up on my mandarin. You could say it’s beneficial because I was born in Taiwan and I was more comfortable living around familiar surroundings, so my decision at the time definitely was the right one.
I know you want to become a nationally recognized star in both Hollywood and in Asia. Is the perception among your peers that it is easier to become a star in Asia than it is in the United States? Do you feel it to be much harder?
Godfrey: I wouldn’t say it’s easier. There is a lot of competition in Asia and there is always someone waiting to take over your spot. I see it as being on a basketball team; if you’re not playing well in a game, someone else down the bench will be called up to replace you. So I always want to be on my toes and take every opportunity I can get to perform better. And I could say the same in the U.S. as well. Being Asian myself, yes…maybe I’d get accepted by the general audience more in Asia than the U.S., but I’m trying to change that. I’ll do everything I can to do so and bridge the gap between North America and Asia.
You are starring in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones based off the Mortal Instruments Series books which are highly successful. This could potentially play out similar to Twilight or Harry Potter where you could be attached to all 6 books. Would you have an interest being a part of the whole future series of films?
Godfrey: I would love to be a part of all the series to come. I just hope I can be like ‘Magnus Bane’ to live forever and never get old.
So tell us a bit about your character ‘Magnus Bane’ and what was your creative process like transforming into an 800 year old warlock?
Godfrey: ‘Magnus’ is a flamboyant high warlock of Brooklyn who is half-human & half-demon with magical powers. He is immortal and never ages. His appearance is like a rock star and loves to throw parties. The process of transforming into him was pretty “magical” as well. Eye liners, eye shadows, glitters, nail polishes and earrings which were all more than my personal everyday look, but I gotta say it’s really fun becoming ‘Magnus.’
Any pressure to play a role in a film that already has an established fan base due to the high sales of the book it is based on?
Godfrey: I definitely feel the pressure. Since it’s a very successful series where there are tons of followers all over the world; and also ‘Magnus’ is a fan favorite…not to mention this is my first English feature where I’m acting in English instead of Mandarin. But I will take this pressure to gain experience and learn more to become confident as each opportunity comes by.
What are some of your favorite Asian films?
Many sex symbols in Hollywood find it frustrating that their good looks can overshadow their acting ability. Making your first English speaking debut, do you wish to overcome this stereotype?
Godfrey: Yeah, of course. I want to show the different side of Godfrey through the different characters I play…and be a versatile actor rather than just good looks.
Why exactly are Jet Li and Jackie Chan such inspirational figures for you? What have you learned from them that you can take away and apply in your own acting career?
Godfrey: Major inspirations; they are my idols and I have met them both! Very talented men… Ever since “Rumble in the Bronx” & “Romeo Must Die,” both of these movies made me want to be an actor and even an action superstar. I just hope one day I can be in a film with them, or follow in their footsteps and maybe even bring a new flavor into Hollywood.
Lastly, I know you are a big sports nut, particularly basketball. Being an actor you can now live the fantasy of becoming a sports star. Will you be eyeing any roles where you can star in a sport biopic?
Godfrey: I love the game of basketball and that is still my favorite sport. I will keep my eye out for any roles to be a sport star and hopefully live my dream of being a professional BBall player through a good script, or even someone like Jeremy Lin.
Header image Photo courtesy of Jet Star Entertainment
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