Ming-Na Wen started off her Q&A session at Supanova Sydney 2014 on the best note; “Now, there are no Hydra’s out there, right? I just want to make sure because I feel like kicking some ass today.” Although, some people actually volunteered for such treatment. “They’re masochists… I like that.” Ming-Na is easily one of the most nice, approachable and down-to-Earth celebrities you could ever get the chance to meet, with all those traits shining through in her panel. WARNING: Spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ahead.
Getting right into the action, Ming-Na revealed that her favorite fight scene in filming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 was the one that took 17 hours to shoot; the final confrontation with Ward (Brett Dalton). She stated; “he needed his butt kicked, really bad! And, you know… NAIL HYDRA!“. When Ming-Na misheard a little girl asking what her favorite line was from the show, she answered hilariously with “My favorite wine?! You’re a little young to ask that question!” Ming-Na spoke on her “slight martial arts background”; “Whenever somebody asks me what form I studied, I say “the acting form. It’s very, very popular in Hollywood.” I think the training that I’ve had with dance, as well as with Tae Kwan Do, the Tiger Claw Kung-Fu method and a little bit of Wu-Shu – which, I don’t think you can actually do just a little bit of Wu-Shu, but in my world, yes – really helps me prepare for these kinds of roles.” Having voiced Mulan, Ming-Na then lamented the lost spirit and artistry of hand-drawn animation when asked if she prefers 2D or 3D animation.
The obligatory question of how Ming-Na is enjoying Sydney was then asked. She replied; “I have to say, the very first day I was in Sydney I started looking at real-estate prices. There’s good air here!”. The question-giver was then showered with boos as she suggested that Ming-Na instead move to Melbourne. Ming-Na then reflected on the short-lived Stargate Universe, stating that the writers weren’t really prepared for its cancellation, resulting in unresolved character arcs leaving them “floating in space”. She hoped for an unlikely Firefly/Serenity-esque resurrection on the silver screen, but will keep with her all the fun memories of filming the show, including her first girl-on-girl kiss, which was “really great”. Our host Peter interjected that it’s a bittersweet fate because, otherwise, we may never have gotten Ming-Na as Agent May. Going back to animation, while Ming-Na doesn’t approach live-action or voice roles differently, she does enjoy the luxuries related to doing V.O.;
The fantastic thing about being a voice actor is, I could be in my PJ’s, I could have rollers in my hair if I wanted to…it’s fantastic not to have to worry about all the other aspects when working in front of the camera. I could have a big zit on the forehead and it’d be fine. And also, being able to create something more or less in your head, as opposed to playing in a sandbox with a lot of other people. But I still like working in front of a camera – I’m so vain!
Things then got a little dicey…a female fan asked if Ming-Na knows why Agent May is referred to as the Cavalry in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or if it’s still a mystery to even her. She replied, channeling the stoic, tough pilot; “Don’t ever call me that. *Applause* God you pissed me off! We were having so much fun! I think that might not be revealed until, hopefully, Season 2. But no, I have no idea why she’s called that.” In regards to her all-time favourite filming location, Ming-Na recalled a prior visit Down Under; “Well, not to be brown-nosing all the Aussies, but I did a film in Australia – it was my first trip out here, on the Gold Coast – called Street Fighter. It was also on the Gold Coast that my Husband proposed! We don’t talk to each other anymore, but it was so nice when he proposed!” The happily married couple are actually celebrating their 19th anniversary today, so congratulations! Ming-Na returned to Marvel, equating the obvious question of whether she’d like to be in a Marvel film to “do you want to win a million dollars? […] I’m waiting for Joss to give me a frickin’ phone call! Maybe I should break his legs…or at least threaten to.”
A fan proceeded to ask about how the cast and crew reacted to fans’ disappointment at Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s lack of super-heroics in the first half of the Season, to which she echoed the overriding opinion that the show and its pacing got progressively better and people came to understand the true focus of the show being in the title itself – the agents. She humorously compared Marvel to the shadow organization; “They are exactly alike. There are things at Marvel that you should know and that you can’t know.” The demise of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a shocker, even to the cast. Moving on, Ming-Na was asked if she had to rehearse her Cantonese dialogue in Episode 5, but of course, being of Chinese ethnicity, she busted out some Cantonese right then and there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t translate it for you if you paid me, and in response to subsequent cheers and applause, Wen quipped; “Oh yeah, like you knew what I was saying! I could have been ordering Chinese food!”
Another animation fan inquired as to what Ming-Na’s favourite part of Mulan was. She gave a very touching response, whilst fighting back classic “jet-lag brain”;
My favourite part actually has a lot to do with the scenes that Mulan had with her father. You know, my father has passed away, but when we were making the episode – bah, the episode, listen to me…I’m a little jet-lagged – making the movie, he was still alive and was able to see the movie. That was a very special part for me, when they made the connection and he was really proud of her.
Finally, to close the panel, Peter threw to a cosplayer dressed as Natasha Romanov aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) who he convinced to concede and represent Agent May (“you’re Agent May in this panel!”). She asked how hard it was for Wen to keep a straight face throughout shooting Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., to which she showed just why she is so awesome;
It’s the worst! You can tell I’m a little verbose, maybe? Like, I like to talk. And I like to laugh. And I get the giggles all the time. That’s why a lot of times I actually like the fight scenes, because I’m so focused that we can get through those. The DVD is coming out…oh wait, I’m not in the States. It comes out in the States…in September! And there’s a whole gag-reel apparently. I’m sure you guys will be getting it soon! I can’t wait, I love gag-reels. Do you ever do that? Do you ever sometimes just go online and watch gag-reels? […] Oh, and whenever I get a bit confused about my lines or I forget my line, I panic and I’ll just blurt anything out, and half the time it’ll just be like *makes unintelligible noise*. And then I’ll keep a straight face hoping nobody noticed. It cracks my cast mates up, and Clark Gregg has coined it “Minglish”.
She thanked us all and expressed how much of a pleasure it was meeting us all. Ming-Na is the polar opposite of her serious role as Agent May, and it was a real treat to sit and listen to a truly kind, relatable celebrity.