If you don't remember actress Kelly Hu from her brief appearances in GROWING PAINS and NASH BRIDGES, or for her role as Grace Chen in MARTIAL LAW, you might not be entirely alone. But if you still don't know who she is now that THE SCORPION KING has premiered, you might as well crawl back under that rock (no pun intended) you call home.
Hu stars as the seductive sorceress Cassandra, the power behind the muscle, Memnon, in this offshoot of THE MUMMY franchise. The trailers for the movie have already capitalized on the fact that Hu is certainly eye candy for the male population. The former Miss Teen USA and current MAXIM cover girl has never really felt self-conscious about her own body. But, she claims that THE SCORPION KING certainly tested her comfort level.
"I have never been so scantily clad in my life, but I've never really had much of a problem with it," says Hu. "I remember going to Sears and changing in the aisles when I was nine years old and my brother would get really embarrassed for me. He would be like, 'Kelly, stop,' and I was like, 'What?' Being a dancer and a model, growing up in Hawaii, running around in shorts and swimsuits and stuff, I never really had a problem with it. [In THE SCORPION KING], I [felt] extremely naked.
This nakedness wasn't something the actress had time to prepare for, either. Even before work on the regular production schedule began, she found herself performing a stunt wearing nothing but a G-string in the middle of a waterfall.
"The very, very first shooting day, before we had even started the regular schedule, they decided to do that scene where I was sliding down the waterfall, naked," says Hu. "I was wearing the tiniest little G-string, which, as you know, when it gets wet doesn't help at all. They had to have me in the G-string because this is a PG-13 [movie], but I was literally on the top of the slide, on my hands and knees because I had to dive down into the slide. The water was rushing so fast that Rock had to be holding me by the waist so that I wouldn't go down the slide when I wasn't supposed to and then, he would push me onto [it] and follow after me. That was the very first day of shooting and I thought, 'It cannot possibly get worse than this.' It did."
Just how much worse did it get? Hu had to film the "waterfall" sequence at least five times, injuring herself after only the first take.
"The first time was really scary because, coming down, some of the water that was coming from the top hit my head and it made my hair go into my face," says Hu. "I couldn't see where I was going. I knew that I was falling off at the end of the slide, but I couldn't see where the water was. I did a horrible belly flop and twisted my neck and contorted my back and so, I had back pain throughout the entire movie."
G-strings aside, there is quite a bit of flesh that Hu bares in the film. But the actress wasn't completely aware when she signed on just how much flesh she was going to be showing audiences.
"When I first signed onto the project, there wasn't a full script," says Hu. "It wasn't until a little bit later that I saw it, but I knew that it was a PG-13 movie and (director) Chuck Russell is an amazing man. I knew that this was not going to be something that I was going to regret."
Hu welcomes the opportunity to play her role as Cassandra if a sequel of THE SCORPION KING pans out. But the actress explains that this decision is largely based on the atmosphere that was created on the set.
"If they ask me back, it would be my pleasure," says Hu. This is, seriously, the best time that I've ever had on any shoot, television or film or anything. It was a pleasure to come to work every day. Everyone was so nice to work with. There were no attitudes; there was no Diva on the set, [although] I felt like the Diva. I felt like the princess when we were out in the middle of the desert and there's some poor PA, who's been hired for the day to hold an umbrella over my head and carry water for me to drink. I'm like, 'I can hold that,' and he's like, 'No, no, no, I'll hold it. I'll hold it.' I literally have this guy following me around all day long holding an umbrella over my head. I was like, 'Gosh, I don't think that the Queen of England has someone following her around with an umbrella.' So yeah, it was my chance to sort of, you know, be a diva."
Just because this Asian beauty had a production assistant that carried her water and held an umbrella over her head doesn't mean that she can't hold her own in a fight. Hu has a black belt in karate. Sadly, she wasn't able to showcase her martial arts talents in THE SCORPION KING.
"No, unfortunately not," says Hu. "I wanted to. I was really itching to when these guys were going in with their swords. I loved that."
The sword fighting was left largely in part to her co-star, wrestler cum actor, The Rock. Hu has high praise for the title character and predicts a substantial action adventure future for him.
"He was so amazing to work with," says Hu. "You know, I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I signed on to work with a wrestler. But after seeing his stint on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, I thought he was amazing. At first, I didn't even [recognize him]. It never even occurred to me that this guy was a wrestler. When I heard that he was doing this film, I thought, 'This is a great opportunity. [He] could be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger,' and I think that he is. I think that he has all that it takes. He certainly has the charisma [and] the charm. He appeals to men as well as to women, children, and grandfathers. He's got such mass appeal that I just knew that this was a great opportunity for me.
One added benefit to working with The Rock was access to his wrestling moves, which, Hu jokes, he showed her in a very discreet location.
"Yeah, in the love tent," laughs Hu. "I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding."