Potential audience of billion people: former city woman to play Bruce Lee’s wife in Chinese TV series - Bruce Lee News
Michelle Lang’s potential audience for the biggest role in her life totals over a billion people.
The former Chippewa Falls woman has landed a key part in the Chinese TV production of “The Legend of Bruce Lee.”
Lang, a 2000 co-valedictorian at Chippewa Falls Senior High School, will portray Lee’s wife Linda, who is a native of Washington state.
The daughter of Mark and Deborah Lang of Chippewa Falls, she can’t believe she landed the part.
“I keep having to re-read the e-mail” telling her she was selected, she said.
When Lang was at Chi-Hi, she got a taste of acting in a production of “Romeo and Juliet.”
She went on to study acting at Northwestern University. Lang, 25, landed a job with Midway Video Games’ motion capture studio, a process where the actions of live actors can be turned into video games.
She’s been in Los Angeles for about two years, and had landed small parts in major films (“Date Movie” and “Epic Movie”) and larger roles in independent movies (“33 Griffin Lane”).
But the $6.4 million, 40-episode TV series on the life the legendary martial arts actor will be by far her biggest role.
The show will be seen on state-run China Central Television, as a run-up to the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics from Aug. 8-24.
Filming on the series in Shunde in Guandong Province in southern China began the weekend of April 7. Shunde is the ancestral home of Bruce Lee.
The actor, who starred in films including “Enter the Dragon” and was the father of actor Brandon Lee, was born in 1940 in San Francisco.
Bruce Lee died at age 32 in 1973 from swelling of the brain.
Lang said she expects her participation in the series will begin later this month or possibly next month.
“I will be there (filming) for four months,” she said this week.
The Associated Press quoted the Chinese Xinhua News Agency as saying the production will also be filmed in Hong Kong and the United States, where Lee studied and launched his acting career.
Lang’s co-star will be Chen Guokun, who is best known for his role in “Kung Fu Hustle.”
Persistence and good timing helped Lang land the role.
About six months ago she began training with Eric Chen, a specialist in the Chinese martial art of Wushu, used by actor Jet Li in his films.
Eric Chen also choreographed one of Jackie Chan’s scenes in the 2000 film, “Shanghai Noon.” And he thought Lang would be right for the role of Linda Lee.
“They wanted a star name,” Lang said. But Eric Chen made calls on her behalf and she sent an e-mail to the producers telling them how much the part would mean to her.
And on Monday, she appeared at a news conference announcing the project and the cast. While there she got to meet Shannon Lee, the daughter of the late actor.
The part makes the hard times she had in establishing her career a little easier.
Lang remembers interning during college for a production company. Her job was doing things other people didn’t want to do.
“It was horrid,” she said.
For a time in Los Angeles she shared a small apartment with one of her Chi-Hi co-valedictorians, Holli Pitsch. She said the support of her family, including sisters Cheyenne, Siena and Tessa, and friends such as Pitsch, has helped in her career.
“I had always so strongly believed in what I wanted to do,” she said.
Now she’s getting the chance to take the next step.