By: Leslie J. Griffin
Actor, producer and expert martial artist Michael Jai White is no stranger to the silver screen. His chiseled physique and great acting style has been enjoyed in more than 30 films. He portrays ex-combat marine John Falcon Chapman in Falcon Rising and battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Falcon stops at nothing to the find the ruthless terrorists who critically wounded his sister Cindy, played by Laila Ali, as she investigated a criminal ring of child sex trafficking. Falcon literally destroys everyone in his path to obtain justice for Cindy and to avenge the young victims. Laila and Michael Jai sat down with Detroit CEO Magazine to talk about their on-the-set chemistry and why this film is so important. Complete with non-stop action and suspense, Falcon Rising opened in theaters on September 5. Here’s what they had to say.
Laila, please talk about your role in the film and its importance in terms of the message.
Well I was very excited to have done my very first film with Michael Jai White. I’ve always been a fan and of course I respect his martial artistry and fighting skills. So when I was asked to play the role of his sister Cindy, I was very excited. My role was very brief, but it was just enough to get my feet wet and even though I’m not acting much, I like that we tackled the issue of sex trafficking which is still a very big problem all over the world. I thought the storyline of the film was amazing and I’m hoping that this film will set the stage to do some sequels so that I can get in there and do some real fighting with Michael.
Michael, please talk about leading such a great role.
Well when I got the script and saw that it was an actual American hero and combat veteran that focused on contemporary issues, I thought it was great to really portray something real. You have people who do these actions movies that come out and they’re very much the Hollywood type but they don’t really touch everyone. But this particular project was something that was deep. And the fact that it was a real-life character made me feel like that’s what a great action hero should feel—that realness.
Laila, let’s talk about your chemistry on the set and working with Michael for the first time.
This was my first film and I could not have done it any better with anyone than Michel Jai White. He was truly like a brother as far as being on the set. He showed me the roles and made me feel comfortable. He helped me with my notes and lines. He just really made sure that everything went smooth for me and I appreciated that so much. And I had a lot of fun. I also had the opportunity to watch him and being that he’s a fighter and I’m a fighter, I just really felt that connection.
Michael, what are your thoughts?
Laila was amazing and one of things of having sequel potential with this film is who better than Ms. Laila Ali to be teamed up to kick some a – -.
Laila now that you’ve had a taste of being on the set. Is there anything you’d do differently to carry out a full action role?
Oh definitely. You know being that I’m a former boxer and a present athlete, I will always want to be the best that I can be. I would definitely prepare myself by working with my acting and coach and with Michael more. I am not a martial artist. It is one thing to fight in the ring, but it’s a different expertise when you’re on the set. So it’s a different skill to really look like you’re fighting, but you’re really not. So yes definitely, I would take that kind of a role very seriously and lean on Michael. You know he’s been doing this for years and he’s one of the best if not the best. So I will be saying ‘come on big brother’.
Michael as a martial artist expert, did you find that you had to hold back on the intense scenes?
I’ve been doing martial arts for a while now. There is a transition, but it is commonplace for me now and it’s easy not to hit someone. A big part of martial arts is control and so it has become a very natural transition for me. A lot of it is practicing not hitting people and there is a big difference between the art and fighting. So sometimes martial arts is where you’re not fighting someone, but you’re controlling yourself.
With this particular genre, are there lots of opportunities for work?
Oh the opportunities are very limited. And that’s why I’ve taken the hand to change that. There are lots of talented people who have not found avenues to work.
What do you want people to take from this film?
In the tradition of great action heroes coming from Kirk Douglas on down to John Wayne to Bruce Lee, I wanted to bring again an action hero that people enjoy. I want for everyone to be able to sit down and enjoy the hero. These are movies that I grew up with and these are movies that I love. I think today we have the internet and it’s so popular because people are drawn to reality and entertainment. I wanted to bring about a character that speaks to reality and this is what I plan on doing for my career with playing these types of action characters. So I hope everyone enjoys Falcon Rising and I hope that you support it. Falcon Rising is now playing in theaters.
Stay connected with Michael Jai White on Twitter @MicahelJaiWhite with Laila Ali on Twitter @TheReaLLailaAli.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leslie J. Griffin is a Celebrity Entertainment Journalist. She is also a Certified Life and Wellness Coach, specializing in healthy living and loving. Follow her on Twiter @OneStopCoach and connect with her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/thebgloveproject. Public updates can also be found on Facebook by searching Leslie J. Griffin