The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor isthe third collaboration between costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays and Cohen. One of the biggest challenges was creating costumes for the beginning of the film. “There was very little to go on,” explains Hays. “There was some reference to jewelry, a few drawings, a bit of cloth and discovered mummies. I based most ideas on research from museums and books. The most useful were findings from Xi’an; we went there to look at the Warriors.”
Hays and two sketch artists worked nonstop for four months to imagine the costumes for Cohen’s world. “After you have a sketch approved, the second part of the creative process starts,” she explains. “You look for fabrics and the details from all over the world—from Hong Kong, China, Thailand and India to New York and Europe. I used hundreds of yards of fabric, many which I bought in Montreal.” Particularly, silks—which take dyes beautifully—were used to complement the film’s Asian themes.
The designer supervised a large team on two continents. She created a huge workshop at Mel’s Cite du Cinema, where she employed craftsmen from every area of expertise: a sketch artist, cutter fitters, embroiderers and jewelry makers. She also outsourced to Film Illusions, a company that specializes in unique costumes for the film industry and was responsible for creating the Emperor’s armor.
Hays designed a new look for Rick, therefore more mellow outfits were created for Fraser, more “John Wayne.” She says, “Brendan now wears a few suits and looks terrific in the ’40s look; he is so built now. As the action begins, we put him in a bomber jacket to toughen him up, and, toward the end of the movie, he goes back to his ‘mummy chaser’ look: pants, shirts and big guns…so he becomes the Rick O’Connell everyone knows.”
Designing for Luke Ford was amusing. “Luke starts the movie down and dirty; a Marlboro man with a 1946 leather jacket, unshaven,” she explains. “He carries that look beautifully, as he is tall and has such great charisma. Then, we clean him up and switch him into the white tuxedo, Bogart-style. Alex is more like a ’40s hip-hop, with the big, baggy pilot pants, big old shoes, big jacket. It all is very proper period, but the silhouette is more modern and appealing.”
Isabella Leong’s character begins as an anonymous assassin. Cohen and Hays agreed on a tunic look that kept the moving shadow hidden…and tricked the unsuspecting into believing Lin is a man. “For the scene in the museum where she tries to save Rick and Evy,” Hays explains, “I dressed her up for Chinese New Year in a coat—a little Matrix-style. She needed to be ready for action, so we added dress pants underneath. The coat is a long cut, so when she flies through the air, it flies behind her.” For Li’s long trek back to Shangri-la, the costumer provided her with a warm outfit inspired by the Tibetan national costumes.
The designer created nine stunning costumes for Michelle Yeoh, designs not exactly determined by the period. Hays notes, “She is a sorceress, so it gave me more freedom. When Michelle put them on, they became alive. She is so graceful and wears the costume so beautifully. The way she moves and holds her neck…she almost floats.”
One of Yeoh’s costumes was inspired by Chinese ethnic minority clothes. Recounts Hays, “It was for the big sword fight with Jet Li where she wears a pleated skirt. I bought a knee-length skirt for myself in Shanghai; I swirled in it, and the way it moved was amazing. We made it in a long version, and one of the girls here, Malika, went through hell trying to figure out how they did it. Everything was hand-pleated, but we finally figured it out. The skirt is very straight when Michelle is standing, but when she kicks, fights and swirls in it, it flies out in a full circle. I can’t wait to see it on screen.”
Designing armor for Jet Li was a long process, one Hays started months before photography began. It was the first thing she designed, as many needed to know what the armor was going to be—in particular the visual effects and art departments.
Hays had to design several versions of the armor, as each served a different purpose. “For the scenes where he walks around and looks majestic, we created the heavier outfits, which used the replica jade pieces. We had to come up with a much lighter version for the fight sequences, so he is able to move properly. Finally, we needed a version for VFX as he turns into terracotta, covered in mud and goo.
“Initially, I got into these philosophical discussions about the Emperor and his search for immortality with Rob,” Hays concludes. “We realized that the jade in ancient China was connected with immortality, and that he may have been dressed in jade just before he died. Rob and I got very excited because armor had never been made out of jade. Then the search started for the perfect piece of jade to give it the color, and how to make it. Each piece was individually done and they are connected.”
After 91 days of shooting and more than 2,000 shots filmed on two continents, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor wrapped. For Rick O’Connell himself, it was hard to say good-bye again, but he was excited that another chapter was beginning. Brendan Fraser closes: “The spirit of this film is one of adventure, fun, romance, things that go bang, lots of action, some great fights. We’re here to entertain.”
To celebrate the wrap of principal photography in truly Chinese style, SFX supervisor Steinheimer created a fireworks display that lasted nearly eight minutes. Crewmembers, who inevitably had become blasé to the excitement of explosions, stunts and other daily events, stood wide-eyed at the incredible showstopper—a fitting end to the roller-coaster action-adventure of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
The parting words go to our director. Concludes Cohen of time spent immersed in a culture he cherishes: “China was a great place to set a movie that has fantasy, imagery, history and incredible action. I would like people to feel that the culture of China has been dealt with very fairly and beautifully. The Chinese are very warm and emotional people. If you have the proper respect for their culture, they will meet you not just halfway, but 80 percent of the way. They are wonderful, artistic collaborators.”
Seamlessly transitioning from smart independent films to action-packed blockbusters, BRENDAN FRASER (Rick O’Connell) continues to garner widespread critical acclaim for his versatile, inspired performances as well as his keen eye for selecting thought-provoking material.
Fraser recently completed filming the third installment of The Mummy, with this Universal Pictures franchise cementing Fraser as a major box-office draw. Stephen Sommers’ 1999 smash-hit epic adventure, The Mummy, was an ambitious retooling of the 1932 horror classic, with Fraser cast as an American serving in the French Foreign Legion who becomes involved with an English archaeological expedition and the ancient secrets they unleash. In 2001, Fraser reteamed with Sommers and co-star Rachel Weisz on the film’s sequel, The Mummy Returns. The first two films have grossed more than $800 million worldwide to date.
Fraser has two new projects for New Line Cinema: the family adventure-fantasy film Inkheart, opposite Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany, Jim Broadbent and Andy Serkis, and Journey to the Center of the Earth, about a scientist who searches for his missing brother and discovers a fantastic and dangerous lost world in the center of the earth. Fraser also serves as executive producer on Journey. Inkheart will be released in January 2009, while Journey is released July 11, 2008.
Fraser has been in a string of some of the most successful independent films of the past decade, including Lionsgate Films’ Academy Award®-winning Best Picture Crash, directed by Paul Haggis; Phillip Noyce’s The Quiet American, based on Graham Greene’s 1955 thriller of the same name; and Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters, opposite Sir Ian McKellen and Lynn Redgrave.
Fraser’s additional film credits include Walt Disney Pictures’ $100 million smash hit George of the Jungle; Looney Tunes: Back in Action for Warner Bros.; Harold Ramis’ Bedazzled, co-starring Elizabeth Hurley and Frances O’Connor; Henry Selick’s Monkeybone; Hugh Wilson’s Blast From the Past, with Alicia Silverstone, Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek; and the live-action Dudley Do-Right, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Alfred Molina.
Fraser is also noted for his acerbic-witted role starring opposite Shirley MacLaine in Richard Benjamin’s Mrs. Winterbourne, and his performances in Les Mayfield’s Encino Man, Robert Mandel’s School Ties, Alek Keshishian’s With Honors, Michael Lehmann’s Airheads and Michael Ritchie’s The Scout, as well as his critically acclaimed performance in Showtime’s The Twilight of the Golds.
Fraser’s diverse theater roster includes his 2001 appearance at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the London West End production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, directed by Tony Award winner Anthony Page. Fraser played the role of Brick, opposite Frances O’Connor as Maggie Pollitt. Fraser received high praise for his work as the anxious writer in John Patrick Shanley’s Four Dogs and a Bone at the Geffen Playhouse, in which he co-starred with Martin Short, Parker Posey and Elizabeth Perkins for director Lawrence Kasdan.
Born in Indianapolis and raised in Europe and Canada, Fraser has been dedicated to honing his craft since the early age of 12 and began attending theater when his family lived in London. He attended high school at Toronto’s Upper Canada College and received a BFA in acting from the Actors Conservatory, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Fraser currently resides in Connecticut.
World-renowned martial arts master and international film star JET LI (Emperor) burst into Hollywood in 1998 with his first English-language film appearance in Lethal Weapon 4. After completing more than 25 films in Hong Kong and China, Li took this first role as a villain opposite Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the Richard Donner film.
Li currently stars in the Lionsgate Films family adventure film The Forbidden Kingdom, in which he plays an ancient Chinese martial arts warrior with fellow martial arts expert Jackie Chan.
Li was most recently seen in the Lionsgate action-packed thriller War, alongside co-star Jason Statham, which marked their second collaboration. In 2006, he starred in the Focus Features biopic Fearless, directed by Ronny Yu. Li played Chinese martial arts legend Huo Yuanjia, who became the most famous fighter in all of China at the turn of the 20th century.
Under the direction of Louis Leterrier, Li filmed Unleashed, co-starring Morgan Freeman, which was released by Focus Features in January 2005. Li also starred in the Warner Bros. film Cradle 2 the Grave, opposite DMX. Joel Silver produced the film.
Li and his family were directly affected by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, which greatly damaged South Asia. This natural disaster motivated Li to create The Jet Li One Foundation Project, a China-based charity organization, in April of 2007. The foundation aims to help people around the world from its headquarters in Beijing. The One Foundation promotes “1 person + 1 dollar + 1 month = 1 big family.” By pooling together individual donations, the One Foundation mobilizes the power of the masses to extend a helping hand to the most vulnerable members of our global family.
In 2002, Li starred in an Academy Award® nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Hero which was filmed entirely on location in Asia through the early months of 2002. Using the assassination attempt of the historical figure Qin Shi Huang Di, the First Emperor of China, as a backdrop, the film explores the Chinese concept of what makes someone a hero. Directed by the renowned director Yimou Zhang (House of Flying Daggers), the film also stars Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The film grossed more than $175 million worldwide.
Also in 2002, Li starred in Revolution Studios’ action-adventure film The One, directed by James Wong and co-starring Delroy Lindo and Jason Statham. In a stunning dual role, Li portrayed Gabriel Yulaw, a police officer confronted with a sinister form of himself. He then went on to star in the 20th Century Fox film Kiss of the Dragon, for which he also served as a producer. Li played a foreigner on assignment in Paris who became involved in a deadly conspiracy. The film co-starred Bridget Fonda and Tchéky Karyo and was directed by Chris Nahon and written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.
Li garnered rave reviews for his performance in the Warner Bros. box-office success Romeo Must Die. In this modern-day Romeo and Juliet, Li played Romeo (Han Sing) to singer Aaliyah’s Juliet (Trish O’Day). Produced by Joel Silver, the film blended hip-hop with kung fu and created a new type of action picture.
Li teamed with Mel Gibson’s Icon Entertainment in November of 2001 to produce a martial-arts television series titled Invincible. Featuring the art of wushu (the general Chinese term for martial arts), the film allowed American audiences to witness spectacularly choreographed action sequences in the Hong Kong filmmaking style.
Born in Beijing, Li began studying the art of wushu and was enrolled in the Beijing Amateur Sports School at the age of eight. After three years of extensive training, Li won his first national championship for the Beijing wushu team. As part of a world tour in 1974, he had the honor of performing a two-man fight for President Nixon on the White House lawn. For the next four years, he remained the All-Around National Wushu Champion of China.
Shortly after retiring from the sport at the age of 17, he was offered many starring roles and subsequently began on his film career with director Xinyan Zhang for The Shaolin Temple. Upon its release, Li was propelled into instant movie stardom and the film was an enormous success that spawned two sequels. This led to Li completing 25 successful Asian films before coming to America.
Li currently resides in Singapore with his family.
MARIA BELLO (Evelyn O’Connell) has established herself as a leading actress with a formidable and dazzling presence. A cool, incredibly literate blonde, Bello has captivated audiences with her many diverse roles in such films as The Cooler with William H. Macy (Golden Globe and SAG nominations), David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, opposite Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris (New York Film Critics Circle Award win and Golden Globe Award nomination), Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Jason Reitman’s Thank You for Smoking and recently, The Jane Austen Book Club. She will next be seen in Alan Ball’s controversial new film, Towelhead.
Bello’s other film credits include Auto Focus, with Greg Kinnear; Permanent Midnight, with Ben Stiller; Payback, with Mel Gibson; Flicka, opposite Tim McGraw; Bruce Paltrow’s Duets; the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Coyote Ugly; Secret Window, with Johnny Depp; Silver City, with Chris Cooper; and Assault on Precinct 13, with Ethan Hawke.
Bello made her television debut as a series regular opposite Scott Bakula in Mr. & Mrs. Smith. In addition, she starred for one season in the role of passionate and headstrong pediatrician Dr. Anna Del Amico in NBC’s critically acclaimed series ER.
Bello dedicates her time and to energy working for a variety of charities, including Street Poets Inc., Save Darfur, Office of the Americas and the American Friends Service Committee.
Before taking on the rigors of the action-adventure genre in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, JOHN HANNAH (Jonathan Carnahan) distinguished himself in the critically acclaimed drama Sliding Doors, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow, and in the international hit Four Weddings and a Funeral, which won him the Scottish BAFTA for Best Actor.
Hannah recently starred in the action-adventure The Last Legion, Ghost Son, I’m With Lucy, I Accuse, Memory of Water, Pandaemonium and the thriller Circus and has also appeared in The Hurricane, Resurrection Man and The James Gang.
Hannah also has an extensive list of television credits, including the Cold Blood series of telefilms for Independent Television in the U.K.; the BBC series New Street Law and Out of the Blue; the documentary Sinking of the Lusitania: Terror at Sea for the BBC; the telefilm Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and ABC’s MDs and Alias. He also played the title role in two British TV series: McCallum and Rebus.
Winner of the Best Actor award at the Stockholm International Film Festival for his performance in Madagascar Skin, Hannah studied for three years at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He has performed with Britain’s leading repertory theater companies, including the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Before his acting career took off, Hannah worked as an electrician in Scotland.
A charismatic and talented performer, RUSSELL WONG (Ming Guo) is one of Hollywood’s leading Asian-American actors. His most recent feature credits include the upcoming Dim Sum Funeral and Undoing.Other feature credits include Takedown,with Skeet Ulrich, Tom Berenger and Angela Featherstone; Romeo Must Die,with Jet Li, Delroy Lindo, Isaiah Washington and Aaliyah; and The Joy Luck Club.
Wong has recently made guest appearances in several top-rated TV shows including Numb3rs, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Commander in Chief.
Wong made his theatrical debut in the United States in the feature-film adaptation of James Clavell’s “Tai-Pan.” He went on to star in Wayne Wang’s Eat a Bowl of Tea and Abel Ferrara’s China Girl and played leading roles in China Cry: A True Story,the box-office hit New Jack City and the Vanishing Son series and television movies.
In 1994, Wong was honored with two awards: the Organization of Chinese Americans’ Image Award and the Media Action Network for Asian American’s Media Achievement Award, in recognition of his outstanding work in the entertainment industry as well as for being an exceptional role model for Asian-Americans. In October 1997, Wong was honored by the Asian American Arts Foundation in San Francisco (along with John Woo, Terence Chang and Tia Carrere).
A native of New York, Wong is one of seven children. Wong has studied martial arts for several years, which enables him to perform many of his own stunts. There is always something to learn in the filmmaking process. In recent years, Wong has taken classes in film production at the prestigious New York University in order to broaden his entertainment industry knowledge in all arenas, including directing. One of his favorite hobbies is photography.
Irish actor LIAM CUNNINGHAM (Maguire) was recently seen in the award-winning film The Wind That Shakes the Barley, opposite Cillian Murphy and directed by Ken Loach. For his role in the film, Cunningham received an Irish Film & Television Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Feature Film, and the film won Best Irish Film.
Cunningham’s other film credits include The Tournament, Breakfast on Pluto, The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse, The Card Player, Mystics, Dog Soldiers, Revelation, The Abduction Club, The Island of the Mapmaker’s Wife, A Love Divided (for which he won Best Actor at the Cherbourg-Octeville Festival of Irish and British Film), Jude and First Knight. Cunningham will next be seen in Hunger and Blood: The Last Vampire.
Cunningham’s television credits include ITV’s Northanger Abbey; Anner House; BBC’s Murphy’s Law and HotelBabylon; The Clinic; Granada Television’s Prime Suspect and Messiah: The Promise; and the telefilms The Crooked Man, Stranded (Hallmark Entertainment), Final Demand (BBC), Attila (USA Network), RKO 281 (HBO) and Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke (CBS).
Cunningham’s extensive theater credits include Poor Beast in the Rain (Gate Theatre, Dublin), The Cavalcaders (Tricycle Theatre), A Streetcar Named Desire (Gate Theatre, Dublin) and As You Like It (Royal Shakespeare Company).
LUKE FORD (Alex O’Connell) is a young Australian actor making his debut in American movies, following a rapid rise to success in his home country. His feature credits include lead roles in The Black Balloon, the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival Crystal Bear Award winner starring Toni Collette and directed by Elissa Down, and Kokoda, directed by Alister Grierson. Ford also appeared in The Junction Boys.
Ford is currently in production on the Australian Broadcast Corporation telefilm Blood in the Sand, which he is filming in Western Australia. Ian David and Sue Taylor (the team behind the acclaimed miniseries The Shark Net) are writing and producing the telefilm. Blood in the Sand follows the strange, real-life tale of a stockman, Snowy Rowles (Ford), who puts the crimes from a murder novel written by his friend Arthur Upfield (played by Robert Menzies) to the test. Rowan Woods (Little Fish) is directing.
On television, Ford starred opposite Elizabeth Perkins in the NBC/Hallmark movie Hercules, had a recurring role in McLeod’s Daughters and appeared in All Saints, No Turning Back, Home and Away, Water Rats and Breakers.
ISABELLA LEONG(Lin), at age 19, already has a string of Chinese movies to her credit, including Spider Lilies (Ci qing); Diary (Mon seung), for which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Hong Kong Film Awards; Isabella, for which she won the Directors’ Week Award for Best Actress at Fantasporto and a Golden Bauhinia Award for Best New Performer and received a Hong Kong Film Award nomination for Best Actress; Dragon Squad (Maang lung); Bug Me Not! (Chung buk ji), for which she was nominated for a Hong Kong Film Award for Best New Performer;and The Eye 10 (Gin gwai 10). She will next be seen in director Tsui Hark’s Missing (Sam hoi tsam yan).
Leong is also an accomplished recording artist, having released several hit albums in Asia. Leong is making her American film debut in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.