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You know Tzi Ma from Once Upon a Time, 24 and 24: Live Another Day, the Coen Brother's film The Ladykillers, and of course as Consul Han on Rush Hour. Born in Hong Kong, he grew up in New York and found his passion for acting. Now Ma is playing the badass character of General Shang opposite Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in Paramount’s new film Arrival. Catch up with this super talented actor.

Colleen Bement: The trailers for the new film Arrival look amazing. Let's talk about the film. Tell me, how will your fans react to your character of General Shang?

Tzi Ma: General Shang is the head of the Chinese military, he's well known in the world.

He's respected. He's feared. His nickname is the Big Domino, so you can imagine that you do not want to cross General Shang. He means business. He's a man of his word. So hence the respect, but the fearful part of it, he does reel the power to mobilize the entire Chinese armed forces. When the Big Domino falls, everything else falls around him.

 

Arrival hits theaters Nov. 11

 

CB: What can you share about filming Arrival?

TM: Arrival is one of those projects that every actor says, "Oh man, I wish every project was like this. It's painless." Everything comes from the top; it circles down to the entire production. It comes from the director, and Denis is a director who trusts his casting. He acts as a coach to guide the performers as opposed to dictating a performance. So you, as an actor; you are a creative contributor to what we're doing.

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You do feel that director has confidence in you. It's fragile in this business. Working with this cast was just easy. It was a great experience.

 

Ma has a busy schedule

 

CB: What can you share about your other projects in the works?

TZ: Let's see. I think I'm on TV on Sunday for Once Upon a Time. I'm returning as The Dragon. You saw him from last season's finale, and he comes back this season. I am also in the second season of The Man in the High Castle that will be on Amazon Prime in December. I have another movie that's opening in China called Pali Road that was filmed entirely in Hawaii. I have another film called The Jade Pendant that will be out early next year.

 

He loved his role on 24

 

CB: I definitely remember seeing you on 24 and 24: Live Another Day. That happens to be a big favorite of mine. What can you tell your fans about that experience?

TM: 24 was really interesting. I went in to audition for the show; good grief, it was in season five. What was that, like a decade ago? A lot of people auditioned for that role, and I really felt that everybody felt that I was right for that role.

What I really like about it is his character is very much like Jack Bauer's mirror image on the other side. He's hard-nosed and patriotic as Jack. Whatever Jack's gonna do, this guy's gonna do on the other side. So I really appreciated that kind of dichotomy of these two basically the same person, in a different skin. That was really fun for me. I really liked the writing. Sometimes, we get too much of the credit. The writers should really get most of the credit. When it's well-written, it's a pleasure to be part of it.

Spare time? What is spare time?

CB: What do you do in your spare time?

TM: I don't have much spare time. When I do have some spare time, I really like some solitude because I'm always surrounded with at least a couple a hundred people at all times. The cast and crew. I've been shooting in Vancouver lately and there are some nice mountains up there. That's what I like to do is go out somewhere where I can just be one with nature. It's really much cherished. I'm also going to be one of the judges in the Whistler Film Festival in December.