Wednesday, September 8th, 2021
Interview with Florian Munteanu
“My boxing background is also an advantage”
In 2018 the German-Romanian actor Florian Munteanu conquered Hollywood in the “Rocky” offshoot “Creed II” alongside Sylvester Stallone. His performance as Russian boxer Viktor Drago is praised around the world. In an interview with ntv.de, he now talks about his new film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
ntv.de: Your new film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” – the 25th film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe – has been in German cinemas since September 2nd. How did you get into the role of Razor Fist – a kind of captain of the Ten Rings Organization?
Florian Munteanu: The interesting thing about the role was that it is also the only non-Asian role in Marvel’s first Asian superhero film. That made the whole thing a lot more interesting. But of course it goes without saying that when Marvel knocks on your door you don’t think twice about it. My agency arranged an audition for me, Marvel was interested and after that everything went very quickly. They liked what I did and then said: “You are the right man for Razor Fist”. And I am very proud and grateful for this opportunity.
One of the best fighting action scenes in the film takes place on a public bus. This is also where your sword arm – Razor Fist’s trademark – comes into play for the first time. What are your memories of filming this scene?
We rehearsed the sequence of the scene for three weeks to rehearse the entire choreography. Then we easily needed another four weeks to turn the whole thing off. A bus like this is a narrow space, you don’t have much space to move at all, even if you didn’t fight. And then there were all the extras, the cameramen and the bars and chairs. It was incredibly difficult to get clean lines into the fighting style. So it was almost inevitable that we would hurt ourselves more than once. But I think that’s just part of the process. And I think at the end of the day we already had something awesome going on.
You come from martial arts, you have been seen boxing in “Creed II”. In “Shang-Chi” the fights are much more filigree and choreographed. Was that a new experience for you or was it – due to your career – day-to-day business?
Partly day-to-day business, but partly also a new experience. My boxing background has of course helped me a lot, simply because I already have experience with standing combat. In the martial arts fights in film and also in mixed martial arts in general, so many fighting styles are united that boxing becomes a very small part of it. Accordingly, it was clear that there would definitely be something new coming my way, things that I may not be able to do yet. But, although I was prepared for it, it wasn’t just a change for me in the beginning, it was also difficult. This whole boxing style that I have, I didn’t acquire it over a year or two, we’re talking more about 20 years here. This is practically a habit and it is not easy to break out of this routine. That was a big challenge for me.
As an actor, you have an impressive physique. But with your portrayal of Viktor Drago in “Creed II” you proved that you can also master the emotional game between fighting. Can you imagine taking on roles in the future that are primarily about pure acting?
Of course, you have to say that my physicality and my boxing background are also an advantage. Still, before and after “Creed II”, the aim was to direct this whole thing more in an acting direction. So: To answer the question: yes, 100 percent. My role in “Shang-Chi” was originally aimed more in this direction. We then agreed with the production that it had to be more about the main character – it should be the original story of the hero. We wanted to save the story arc that was told about my character Razor Fist for the future. Which is of course very painful at the end of the day when you’ve worked so hard for one part! And no actor likes it when scenes are edited by him. But I can definitely say that with everything that hopefully happens to Razor Fist in the MCU, the main focus will be more on his story and personality.
Were you familiar with Marvel comics before you joined the production of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, or was it all new territory for you?
Yes totally (laughs). I used to watch the “X-Men” cartoon series. And buying comic books, that was a thing back then. I don’t think that’s the case with young people anymore.
What was it like working with Tony Leung, who played Mandarin in “Shang-Chi”? The man is a superstar in Asia. There is hardly an Asian cult film in which he does not act.
Brutally inspiring, brutally motivating! I was of course already familiar with his work. The man is a legend. But it’s something completely different when you see him personally, the way he plays. I can remember a dinner scene where I was sitting at a table with the character who played “Shang-Chi”, Simu Liu. Tony Leung is telling a story in his role as Mandarin and while listening I forgot the cameras were rolling. I was so fascinated by his acting because he took up the whole room with his aura.
Until now you have always played the “villains”. If you could have played one of Marvel’s “Avengers”, which character would you have been interested in?
I have different favorites than those who were now with the movie “Avengers”. But of them I would say: Thor. I always thought the hammer was great (smiles). Hammer them all off (laughs).
Ronny Rüsch spoke to Florian Munteanu