An interview with Veronica Ngo, lead actress of Furie
We had a chat with Norwegian-Vietnamese Veronica Ngo, lead actress of the success film Furie.
Films from the South: In Furie (Hai Phuong), you play a mother and an ex-con who experiences her daughter being kidnapped by traffickers. Tell us about this character and what attracted you to the part.
Veronica Ngo: Hai Phuong is a long-term project with careful preparation from the script-writing stage. It took us more than four years to get ready before going into production. In Hai Phuong, I am not only the main actor but also took the role of a producer, so the pressure was more than ever. For me, Hai Phuong reflects the current social reality of the child abduction problem, more than just a commercial movie. Through the process of finding a child, the film portrays the spiritual motherhood, the courage of a mother to be ready to face dangers, even to sacrifice her life to save her child. It is a very humanistic message that I want to dedicate to my final action movie.
FFS: There is a lot of girl-power in this film, like a Vietnamese version of Taken, but with a woman doing all the fighting. In an industry where men for the most take on the roles of action heroes, should the industry turn to creating female characters with the same features and roles? What is the situation in Vietnamese film in this respect?
VN: More and more female actresses are appearing on the big screen in the world in general and in Vietnam in particular, with the same thought that there will be more female leads for the audience. On the contrary, such films encourage and motivate girls to become independent, strong, and successful. That positive cycle gradually changes the society in which we live. Overall, it is commendable to see that Southeast Asia is steadily growing more successful female leads. In Vietnam, we can see that the wave of projects undertaken by women is extremely large. That represents a new generation of Vietnamese women, a generation full of confidence and independence. For me, Hai Phuong is a film that can positively inspire young female audiences, support them to rise up, become independent, and determine their own life. It should be a trend, but fortunately, I think it already is a trend now.
FFS: We have read that the film is the first Vietnamese film to get a broad distribution in the US. How was the reception of the film in Vietnam?
VN: For Hai Phuong, after more than 4 weeks of its premiere in Vietnam, the film has reached a revenue milestone of more than 200 billion VND, becoming the highest-grossing Vietnamese film of all time, despite the age restriction for movie viewing. I am very thankful to Studio68's team and the audience who have supported Hai Phuong during the past time. Just seriously making quality movies, I believe audiences will support us. My next projects, maybe not as good or emotional as Hai Phuong, but with the professionalism and dedication of the team supporting me, I believe our next products will also be promising.
FFS: We have l heard rumors about a possible follow-up of the film in Vietnam. Is this accurate, are you possibly involved and what is the angle on the story this time? When will it be released?
VN: Last November, I officially announced the film Thanh Soi (Furies) to the media. This is the prequel of Hai Phuong, revolving around the darkening journey of the Hai Phuong movie's favorite villain Thanh Soi. In this movie the level will be much more difficult than Hai Phuong, it will be more "tough" because the role itself is a very "tough" girl. I want the world to recognize Hai Phuong as a huge punch, Thanh Soi will be a stronger hit for people to really pay attention to Vietnamese movie products. The film is currently in production and will be released in 2021.
FFS: Over the last years you have been seen in a lot of different high-profile Hollywood films like Star Wars, Bright, Da 5 Bloods and The Old Guard. Could you tell us a bit about working in this system, and say something about your future ambitions in Hollywood studios?
VN: The Chinese film industry dominates overall Asian countries. For Westerners, those with black hair and brown eyes default to be Chinese. I do not like it at all. I am proud of my country, culture, and people. I am Vietnamese. I am proud of my country, my people. We have a long history in the cinema, so it should be developed. For every character I play in Hollywood, I want to show the pride of my country. I think any actor or actress has their dreams and purposes. For actors, their biggest target is to take part in Hollywood projects. For me, I think I joined Hollywood projects mostly to learn about how they produce a movie with professional teams. I have been a producer of Vietnamese movies for nearly five years. I always want to learn the best things so I can do well as a producer. In the near future, I want to focus on the development of Studio68's products and dedicate myself to the development of the Vietnamese film market.
FFS: You are currently working on a new Vietnamese film project, and have been credited as actor, producer, and scriptwriter. Could you tell us a bit about the situation in the Vietnamese film industry, and about your future ambitions in these different fields?
VN: The past 5 years can be said to be the golden five years of the Vietnamese market when everything first developed markedly in terms of both quantity and quality. Back to 5 years ago, the highest revenue for a movie was only about 60-70 billion VND. But in 2020, Hai Phuong has changed the game with a revenue up to 200 billion VND. I always put myself in the shoes of a pioneer to do new things. When I saw that the market needed an action movie starring a female lead, I made Hai Phuong. When I saw the market did not have a Fantasy movie for children, I decided to be Trang Ti. When the market needs an Action - Drama movie, I produced Thanh Soi. When Vietnam did not have a superhero movie, I invested in VINAMAN. And finally, when we needed an Action - History movie, I chose to remake a live-action movie Le Nhat Lan. I am always willing to set myself to new limits, the following must be better than the previous ones and have to break the records I have created. It takes the mindset of a pioneer to create a different product for the market and that is how Studio68 brings any movie product to Vietnamese audiences.