OLIVIA MUNN & KEN JEONG
Olivia Munn, the former model, is now coming into her own as an actress. The Newsroom alum is scoring choice roles left and right. Her role in Iron Man 2 earned tremendous praise from her co-star Robert Downey Jr. who, according to reports, stopped and had the entire cast and crew give Olivia a standing ovation for her improvisational abilities on set. The Hollywood roller coaster ride continued for this exotic beauty when she landed the role in Ride Along 2, then Zoolander 2, and the upcoming release of X-Men Apocalypse. The rigorous training that she underwent to play Psylocke (in X-Men) was intense, and yet stuck with her. Olivia continues to do Tae Kwan Do and has a stash of swords in her closet that she still trains with.
Ken Jeong is very well known as a comedic actor from his breakout role in Judd Apatow’s 2007 hit, Knocked Up, playing, ironically, a doctor. The funny man actually practiced medicine for quite some time, all while developing his comedy act at contests and clubs for fun. After his successful turn in the film, Ken’s wife encouraged him to pursue acting fulltime. Ken had just landed a role as an Asian mobster in The Hangover when his wife was diagnosed with an aggressive stage 3 breast cancer. His wife encouraged him not to turn down the part, so he channeled all of his pain and rage about her battle with the disease into his role as Mr. Chow. He even peppered his dialogue with a bit of Vietnamese here and there as an inside joke to his wife, Tran. Now years later, and his wife now cancer-free, Ken continues his success with many beloved performances that make crowds roar with laughter.
Olivia Munn and Ken Jeong appeared together in the recently released and highly anticipated sequel to Kevin Hart and Ice Cube’s cop comedy film, Ride Along 2. The pair sat down with STRIPLV to discuss what it was like to join the Ride Along cast, and how hard it was not to break in a scene.
STRIPLV: Olivia, tell us about your character, “Maya”, in your new comedy film sequel, Ride Along 2.
MUNN: Maya is a detective for the Miami Police Department, and the guys interact with her when they come to Miami. And I like to think of Maya as the female version of Cube’s character. She’s really hardcore and really great at her job, but not a really delicate flower. I’d say she’s pretty tough.
STRIPLV: Tell us about working with Ice Cube and the relationship between your two characters—James and Maya.
MUNN: What I love about this dynamic with James and Maya is that they are two people who are so alike, and there is this really great connection that they have just in the respect for each other, in that they both are looking at each other, and at first, you know, there’s the tension where, you know, these guys come into my world, into my department, and they’re making a mess immediately. And there’s an immediate respect and connection between Maya and James, and where it turns into we see in the movie and with the next. But what I love so much is they have this really great respect for each other and it’s that funny thing where you see people who are so similar, and they don’t realize that they are so similar. They actually think that they’re like enemies, but it’s because they see themselves too much in each other.
STRIPLV: Tell us a little how your character Maya relates with Kevin Hart as “Ben”.
MUNN: When Maya first meets Ben, I think she looks at it like swatting away a gnat or a fly—like he’s just an annoyance. But as the movie goes on, she sees kinda the guy he is. I think that even though he can be very annoying, and she gets very tired of him in a lot of situations, I think she starts to feel bad for him, because he’s got such a big heart and he really wants to do such a great job and she can see how much he really wants to please James. And so you see Maya start to help James understand Ben and open up to him a little bit more.
STRIPLV: What’s some of your thoughts on Kevin as lead actor in the film?
MUNN: You know, right now Kevin Hart can’t lose. I mean—Kevin keeps winning. And there’s a reason for it. He’s literally the funniest human being on this planet. And he’s so genuine, and he’s so nice. And the thing about comedy that people love is that it’s surprising. When something makes you truly laugh, it’s because it’s completely surprising. And Kevin is so surprising, and because he’s always taking from everything in the world, and he’s so present. And people want to watch Kevin. I mean Ride Along was one of the first movies where he was really, truly a lead, and we got to really see him shine and be so funny and get this really big role throughout an entire movie and carry a movie. The first Ride Along proved that people want to watch Kevin.
STRIPLV: What’s it like working with powerhouse team, Kevin and Ice Cube, together?
MUNN: It’s interesting, ‘cause like Kevin’s like hanging out with my brother. He’s always getting me into trouble. And Cube’s like hanging out with my dad. It’s like that dynamic of like, just Cube always saying like: “Shut up, Kevin!” And Kevin’s like: “My bad, my bad. My bad, my bad.” There was one time when I was laughing so much… I couldn’t stop laughing because of something Kevin had said to me earlier and it just kept getting into my head and every time I looked at Kevin it made me laugh, that Cube just made Kevin leave the set. Like he was definitely like being “dad.” He was like: “Okay—c’mon, guys. Let’s get it together.” And then there’s Kevin who’s just kind of like a toy that you just wound up and he’s just spinning around. And to me, I think that’s what I love about their dynamic and why people really love watching them together—because they’re such a yin and a yang.
STRIPLV: So everyone going into this movie – Tim, Will, Cube and Kevin – were all saying: “This is bigger, funnier, sexier.” And they all say that part of that plan was bringing you two on. So how did it feel to sort of jump into and be in this mix, and be part of that bigger, funnier, sexier offering?
MUNN: That’s nice—and I’m glad we didn’t know that before. That’s a lot of pressure.
MUNN: Lotta pressure for that one. I think Ken felt natural, right? (looking at Jeong) …to bring the sexy to the movie.
MUNN: Right? He’s getting tired of being typecast, I know that.
JEONG: (chuckles) I was like Durian. (gesturing bowing to royalty) You know what I mean?
MUNN: You know why Bradley Cooper has been doing so well? This guy (pointing at Jeong) keeps turning down things—left and right. He’s like: “I’m done. Know my talent. Know my heart. Don’t just know my body.”
JEONG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Very true.
MUNN: So that’s a big thing to carry. (laughter)
JEONG: And I’m very happy for Coop. You know, I really am. (laughter)
STRIPLV: (laughter) You guys! As you went through making the movie, you guys seemed to blend in and jump in right away, and I know that you, Olivia, had sort of a brother/sister relationship with Kevin, but how much fun was it to torture him with the soft tissue manipulation?
MUNN: That soft tissue manipulation—we were trying to figure out, in the moment, “What do I do?” And Cube goes: “Just get in right here—there’s this thing that you can do. And I was like: “Oh…” And then I started looking online, and I was like: “Pressure points, and that’s a kidney point.” And it was actually a lot of fun. Kevin’s like a big, little brother for me. I love him!
STRIPLV: And you seemed to fit in quite nicely with that Kevin mix and trying to push Cube to the point of breaking—which we know he never does. But how was it to watch him be a part of that dynamic? Did you have any goals? Did you guys set out a plan? Like, “We’re gonna make him break!”
JEONG: I think really the goal was, for me, was to fit in and have fun. It was really a simple thing. But watching the movie and being fans of both Cube and Hart, I did have a feeling like, you know, we all could have a lot of fun together in this movie. And when Olivia and Benjamin, you know, the three of us, they go out of their way to make us feel at home. It just makes you wanna try even harder and do even better.
MUNN: My goal was actually to try not to break—because I, not even kidding, ruined about 9-out-of-10 takes from uncontrollable laughter. There was actually one night where we had this big night scene, and we had to shut down the street, and we had to get it done before the morning. And I just have to come up in my truck and get out…and there’s all these extras. And Kevin’s off-camera and he decides to mess with me—and the guy makes me laugh—so hard! And when I start laughing, I don’t stop, so I’m getting up and ruining every single take. And like the sun is starting to come up! Over the buildings, we see it. I’m like: “Oh, my gosh!” I’m freaking out. I’m in the car trying to think, like: ‘Dead kittens! C’mon!!’ and like, ‘Get it together! You can do this!’
MUNN: And I get out of the car and starting laughing immediately. And finally I get out on one take, and I get it, and I’m like: “Oh, my gosh! I did it!” And I look at Cube, and he was like: “Yeah, that’s ‘cause I made Kevin leave.” Kevin had to leave the set for me to be able to finish the scene, because he would’ve made me laugh the entire time.
STRIPLV: (laughter) Now that you guys have seen it, did you enjoy it?
MUNN: I loved it! And this guy (pointing at Jeong) is so funny! We laughed so much. It was fun to hear the audience laugh with us. You know, I know how many times I was laughing, and so it was fun to see that it was actually working.