Six questions with Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk)

Feb. 27, 2009 | 11:14 p.m.

Kristin Kreuk has long been known as Lana Lang, the angsty high school student and focus of Clark Kent’s romantic attention on the CW’s "Smallville." As the show flies through its eighth season, Kristin has shed the role and is now embarking on a Superman-free (for now) career. Her female-empowering Girls By Design (or click here) organization takes up a lot of time, but she’s back on screen now, taking on an video game icon in her latest film as she becomes Chun-Li in "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li" (out in theaters today). We were able to track down the Canadian actress in Los Angeles and ask a few questions.

Kristin290_kd2sxfnc So, it’s well known that you’re into martial arts (purple belt!), though you gave it up at a young age. How was training for the "Street Fighter" movie, and why did you quit martial arts as a kid?

I was going in [to ‘Street Fighter’] with the want to learn. And when I was a kid I was really defiant about it. So this time, I went in everyday and was really excited to build my skills with these people. And these people were sooo good. Every single person on Dion’s [Lam — fight choreographer] team was skilled in some form. There were people who were proficient in wire work and some who were excellent in acrobatics … and people who were amazing at wushu. So I got to see all of them and learn from all of them. Many of them didn’t speak English with me, so I learned from them in a very sort of visceral way. They would show me something and I would try to copy it. They would say something to me and I would try to communicate back. It was a lot of fun.

I quit karate originally because it wasn’t something that I was initially passionate about … So, I had the opportunity in school to do a social studies class that was advanced, and I knew my mom would like that, so I bartered to take the advanced socials class and drop karate!

Jumping around … have you heard the "Twilight" sequel rumors and comments, and do you have any position on it?

I have not really heard much about that. I read something somewhere that someone liked me, on some random site somewhere, but I don’t think that means anything necessarily. No one official has ever spoken to me about "Twilight." … I read the books, though, and I think they’re fun.

How did you approach Chun-Li? Go back to video games or look at comic-book story liStreetfight190nes, or did you just go straight from the scipt?

I went straight from the script. Justin Marks, who wrote it, is a Street Fighter nut and knows everything there is to know about it, and he was on set for a while so I to ok advantage of that…  It’s not a really complex story, though. I wanted to give her some depth so that people could relate to her with all of the fighting going on, I guess because I’m a woman and I really do appreciate — even in an action movie — people that I can connect to.  And that was important to me.

Tell me what you think about the direction of "Smallville" from the beginning to where it is now.

Well … I look at the kids on the CW now and the kids don’t seem like kids, they seem like adults, but on "Smallville," in the beginning they were always kids. Clark was dorky and he tripped, and we all looked pretty young and it just seemed so different. "Smallville," for I think about three seasons, was all about small-town kids and about this kid growing up and struggling with his identity. And then it shifted into much more — well, not that it wasn’t always sci-fi because there was always the ‘freak of the week’ as we call them — but then it got into more dark and twisted stuff for a few years after they graduated.  Through Lana’s witchiness and Lex’s development and Lana and Lex’s marriage…. now it’s much more about Clark becoming a superhero. He’s now at the Daily Planet and you can see him interacting in an environment with Lois, and I think that’s the direction that it’s going in now. They’re getting into much more Lois-and-Clark territory now.  But I’ve left, so I don’t know what their vision is for Season Nine.

How was that split?

I was ready to go, so I don’t have any anxiety about leaving or anything … and I don’t think the show needed Lana at that point, so I think it was a good thing. I will continue to see a lot of the people because I adore them, we all live in Vancouver and Allison [Mack] will be around for another year, which is great ’cause she’s one of my dearest friends. But it was hard to say goodbye.

I’m sure you get this a lot, but what kind of role would you like to get into, besides Chun-Li, now that Lana’s in the rearview?

People ask me this a lot, so I should come up with a really good answer. I just want to portray a very honest character that displays traits that people can truly relate to and can help them — the audience and myself because I learn from the characters as well — help them see themselves in a perspective that is outside of what they know already, and grow from that experience. So, I know it’s really broad, but there aren’t a lot of roles that fit into that category. There isn’t a specific person in my mind that I’d want to play. Yet.


Video: Allison Mack, and is ‘Smallville’ still super?

Gallery: Video game adaptations: Game over or game on

— Jevon Phillips

Photo: Patrick Brown / 20th Century Fox

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