Q&A with Daniel Wu – Geostorm
Daniel Wu stars in the new disaster, sci-fi film Geostorm, released on Friday. It tells the story of a satellite designer who tries to save the world from a storm of epic proportions caused by malfunctioning climate-controlling satellites. Daniel plays Cheng Long in the film.
Geostorm combines a compelling conspiracy theory thriller with a disaster film of epic proportions. Which aspects of the story did you connect with?
DANIEL WU: I’m a big fan of conspiracy thrillers and big disaster films. So, this is the perfect combination of both. It’s every disaster movie combined in one film! There are two stories running concurrently – one that’s set aboard the International Space Station, and another on Earth. Both stories are compelling.
Your character, Cheng Long, is an expert on the technology being used to control the weather. Before starting work on the film, did you do any research about weather satellites and technology?
DANIEL WU: Having lived in China for the past twenty years, I’ve picked up a few things about weather. For example, it was supposed to rain during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but the Chinese government shot ions into the clouds and made it rain a day earlier, and not during the ceremonies. That was the first time I realized it was possible to at least partially control weather.
In Hong Kong, Cheng experiences an intense freak occurrence – a “Geostorm”. Describe what Cheng is seeing and feeling and how he deals with it.
DANIEL WU: In the film, Cheng experiences temperatures bursting into the sixties [Centigrade], and in one shot you see an egg drop from a bag and start frying on the pavement. The intense heat causes Hong Kong’s underground liquid petroleum system to explode – and then the entire city begins to explode. At that point, it’s unclear whether it’s a weather-caused disaster or a man-made disaster.
What was it like working amidst all the practical effects and stunts?
DANIEL WU: It was amazing. I’ve worked on over sixty films in Hong Kong, and I’ve never been on a production where five blocks of the city – a section called Mong Kok – were shut down for filming. Most, if not all the crews in Hong Kong worked on that sequence.
I also did about ninety percent of the driving where Chen races through the crumbling streets. That was really exciting.
Prior to the incredible events in Hong Kong, Cheng shares a moment with a cat that’s cooling off in a refrigerator. How did that go?
DANIEL WU: You know the old Hollywood saying about never working with children and animals? Well, I’m working with a baby right now on my TV series, and before that with the cat on Geostorm. So, I’ve checked off all the boxes.
The production had flown in an animal trainer from the U.S., and she found the perfect cat in Hong Kong. The cat was amazing – better than most of the two-legged actors I work with (laughs). The cat hit all its marks, and responded to a clicking system created by the trainer. The trainer would click once to elicit one kind of movement, and click twice to get another one.
What challenges and opportunities does working on a large-scale movie like Geostorm present to you?
DANIEL WU: It’s challenging because you don’t see the visual effects during production, so the performance is based on your and the filmmakers’ imaginations, which have to be aligned. The car chase scene was particularly challenging because I had to imagine the road splitting in front of me and then having to suddenly veer off to the side to avoid falling in the crevice. Traffic cones marked the cracks in the ground that would be added later with visual effects.
What do you hope audiences take away from seeing Geostorm?
DANIEL WU: We shouldn’t mess with Mother Nature – no matter how sophisticated our technology is.
I think audiences will have a great time with the film’s thriller elements, as well as its epic scale.