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PETALING JAYA, Jan 21 — Whether she’s playing the lethal mutant Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse or a romantic lead in Love, Wedding, Repeat, US actress Olivia Munn’s resume is as varied as it gets.
Unlike most Hollywood talents of Asian heritage, Munn has beaten the odds when it comes to typecasting.
The Newsroom actress always approaches projects offered to her by being discerning about roles that reinforce cultural and female stereotypes.
“Being a daughter of a Vietnamese immigrant is a huge part of who I am and I’m so proud of my mother and my family, so it’s always been a really important thing to me,” she told Malay Mail yesterday.
Munn’s mother fled to the US as a refugee in 1975 after the Vietnam War and settled in Oklahoma where she met her German-Irish-English father.
“But I think not getting typecast, it takes a lot of saying no to things.
“The only thing that people see is the things that I said yes to but the things that I said no to, that’s the stuff no one will ever see,” she added.
Munn previously revealed she was told she was “too white” for Asian roles and “too Asian” for white roles.
“It can be tough because that means sometimes, you’re not working for a long time.”
“[I also try] not to only take on roles that show women to be submissive, or if they’re not submissive, they’re extremely strong,” the Office Christmas Party star said.
On her selection process, the youthful 40-year-old said it comes down to whether she feels inspired by the world in the script and if she is inspired by the character.
“I have one rule before I take on any role which is: Does she exist if he doesn’t exist?”
“So if we’re telling the story and it’s me and this other guy, would my story still be there if you take him out of the story?
“Would you still understand and believe who I am as a human being in the story?” she said.
Munn said this ‘rule’ was her way of choosing roles that allow women to be seen as full people, even if it meant not playing the biggest role or a part she didn’t want initially but was the one she was most drawn to.
The actress spoke to Malay Mail via a phone interview to promote The Rook - the Starz supernatural spy thriller that’s finally being streamed in Asia via HBO.
Set in London, the series centres on a young woman (Emma Greenwell) who wakes in a park with total amnesia and surrounded by dead bodies but soon discovers she is an agent with supernatural abilities in a British secret service.
“I think [audiences in Asia] will really love it, it’s a really cool mystery show with elements of supernatural and they’ll have a lot of fun trying to piece it together as the show starts coming together episode by episode.”
Munn plays American agent Monica Reed in the show that is loosely based on the Daniel O’Malley novel of the same name, originally adapted by Stephenie Meyer.
Yes, the Stephenie Meyer who wrote Twilight.
Asked if she was a fan of the popular young adult vampire book series, Munn confessed: “I’ve never seen Twilight but I do enjoy vampires and that world but I missed the Twilight boat.”
Catch new episodes of The Rook every Monday on HBO GO.