CATWOMAN: HUNTED Interview: Kelly Hu On Cheshire, Possible China White Return In JUSTICE U, & More (Exclusive)

Catwoman: Hunted star Kelly Hu talks about playing Cheshire again, how that experience compared to Young Justice, her socially conscious clothing line, and whether we could see China White in Justice U.

In the all-new original Catwoman: Hunted, Selina Kyle's attempt to steal a priceless jewel puts her squarely in the crosshairs of both a powerful consortium of villains and the ever-resourceful Interpol, not to mention Batwoman. It might just be enough to contain her. Or not. The latest movie from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is an absolute riot, and a great start to 2022 for DC Animation.

The movie features an insanely talented group of actors with an emphasis put on strong female characters. Kelly Hu's Cheshire is among them, and while the X2 star is no stranger to the DC Animated Universe, this role is one she's familiar with after lending her voice to Young Justice's Cheshire.

As you might expect, her history with the character gave us plenty to talk about here and Kelly also shed some light on the impact COVID has had on voice acting roles, her love of this type of performance, and what she brought to the table as this version of the villain. We also learn more about her socially conscious clothing line (you can check that out over at 33 Edge's website).

Oh, and for those of you who are Arrow fans, we also have some comments from Hu on the possibility of playing China White in the Diggle-led Justice U. Find her thoughts on Lady Deathstrike here.

Catwoman: Hunted is set for release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and Digital on February 8, 2022.
 

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It’s great to be able to speak to you again after we last chatted about Batman: Son of the Dragon, and it must be very special for you to be part of this project with so many awesome female characters taking centre stage?

It really is. It would have been so fun to be able to do this in person. Unfortunately, everybody is still in the recording booth by themselves because of COVID, but it would have been so fun having all these women in the room together.

Did COVID have any sort of impact on your contributions to the film and, either way, are you set up at home now for projects like these or still heading into the studio?

Now, I think some studios are wanting actors to go into the recording studios because it’s just better sound quality. You’d have to really build an actual studio, like a room inside a room, and make it soundproof and all of that. I just don’t have the space or budget [Laughs]. I’m living in two rooms and I’ve got to sleep in one! Actually, that would be a great idea to sleep in a soundproof room, but you probably couldn’t breathe too well. Anyway, I’ve been going in lately for most of the recordings, but the COVID protocols are so strict that I’m really not that worried anymore.

What did it mean to you to be part of Catwoman’s first solo feature and a film that does primarily have this badass female cast of actors and characters?

I loved that they did this catfight and 'batfight.' Leave it to Greg Weisman to be so [Laughs] fun and creative. It would have been great to be in the room with everyone, but alas, what can we do? I think this is going to be the thing for quite a while to not really have group sessions until they can figure something out.

You’ve been playing Cheshire in the Young Justice franchise for nearly a decade, but did your approach to the role change at all for this movie?

Wow. A decade? I can’t believe it. I mean, I guess we had a five-year break, right? 

You did, but is it like returning to an old friend with this character or did you switch things up for this particular project would you say?

No, it was really like coming back to an old friend. It was fun to find her again. She’s very sarcastic and I remember when I was creating this voice, I kept thinking of a cat and going very purry and wanted to find that gravel in my voice that sounded like a purr. It was really fun trying to get back there again. 

Were you made aware of the unique animation style beforehand and did that ultimately factor into your approach at all?

I did not know beforehand! When I saw the film, it was really cool to see. Almost anime combined with the regular animation you would see. It was fun to see, but it didn’t affect my approach because I had no idea what it was going to look like [Laughs]. I was just familiar with Cheshire so I think that I just wanted to bring her back the same way I did in Young Justice. 

It must be a pretty cool experience to see this character you’re so familiar with pulled into a different animation style like this one?

It was and it was fun to be in the script with other characters I had never met before. Usually, all of my scenes are with Artemis in Young Justice, but to be able to do this scene with other female actors…I think the one thing I have to say about this film is that everyone is kind of a bad girl. There are no heroes. Even the heroes are villains [Laughs] or criminals. It’s a fun build! 

You’ve worked with writer Greg Weisman on Young Justice and The Spectacular Spider-Man, but what about his work is it that makes him someone you’re happy to get to collaborate with on a regular basis?

I love the way he writes dialogue. It’s so quippy and so fun to play. Even during all the fighting scenes, there’s all of this sarcasm and quips going back and forth. He uses words as weapons as well. 

This is a very action-packed role, so what was the experience of being in the recording booth like for this particular project in terms of getting that across through your work?

Well, there was a lot of fighting going on so there was a lot of grunting and fight sounds. That’s really hard on my voice. I don’t know what other actors experience, but for me, when I do fighting stuff, I have to wait until the end to do all the grunts and hits. It’s very taxing on my throat, so I have to be really careful with how I treat myself when I’m doing all of the fighting. I make sure I don’t talk for hours after I have a session and really have to take care of my voice. 
 

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What is it about Cheshire do you think that makes her such a good opponent for a character like Catwoman in this movie?

I think they’re sort of equal in their abilities. They’re both very sarcastic and watching this fight and listening to all of the dialogue that goes along with the fight is what makes it the most fun. It’s not all just this crazy action stuff. I think in animation, you can go so far with all of the action because all you have to do is draw it. You don’t have to do it physically [Laughs]. What makes it fun is really the dialogue in between all the action

On another note, I did want to also talk about your clothing line and was wondering if you’d like to tell our readers about your goals with 33 Edge and what they can expect from getting involved?

I started 33 Edge during the pandemic. I saw so much division in the world at the time, not just in th United States, but the entire world. I just felt like I needed to do something that would help bring people together. I feel there’s so much we have in common that nobody is looking for anymore. Everybody just wants to look for whatever is dividing us, so I tried to do this line using words like Unity, Kindness, Humanity, and Equality. They’re things all of us can get behind. All of the words are written in a gradient of skin colours, representing diversity. I just hope we can get more people on board promoting this kind of thought and trying to erase or even out so much of the negativity that’s going on in the world.

Many of our readers will, of course, remember your standout role as China White in Arrow, but with The CW planning to revisit that corner of DC Universe with a new show featuring Diggle and teenage heroes, are you hoping the opportunity might come up to return?

Oh, that would be amazing. I would love that. She’s another super fun character to play. I get to play all the best villains [Laughs]. I’m really nice. I’m not a villain! It’s fun to play. I much prefer to play villains to heroes [Laughs].

Having spent so much time in the DC Universe, are there any other heroes or villains you’d still like to play or are you perhaps excited to continue returning to the likes of Cheshire and Lady Shiva to expand on them in different ways?

I would love to be able to play other roles. I don’t know how many more Asian characters there are in comic books that I have not played yet. I’ve done Katana, Lady Shiva, China White, and Cheshire. I really don’t know how many other Asian roles there are in this universe, but it would be interesting to see if I could play that’s not necessarily written as Asian, right? I don’t know if people are open to doing that these days, but yeah, that would be nice. 

Voice roles have become a huge part of your acting career over the years; was it type of performance you always aspired to be part of or did one just come your way and then it was a case of, ‘Oh, I really love this’?

You know, I really sort of stumbled into it by accident. I did one or two little jobs. I think my very first job was in a Star Wars game, Knights of the Old Republic 2, and it was so fun to be able to sit in a chair, close your eyes, and just concentrate on the voice. Bringing this character to life just using your voice and not having to worry about standing on the right mark or your lighting or any of that stuff. It really was so freeing in a way and so I’ve done the opposite where I’ve had characters who didn’t say anything and I had to use just all physicality, and then now coming to this voice acting, just using the voice. My second big character was Stacy in Phineas and Ferb which was a recurring character I got to play for nine years. Getting to play all these different characters you would never get to play in real life like little girls and old ladies…voice work was just so much more fun and freeing. I really, really enjoy doing it. 

ALSO READ: Star Elizabeth Gillies Talks Romantic Tension With Batwoman And Live-Action Hopes
ALSO READ: Producer Ethan Spaulding Talks Selina Kyle's First Feature And Anime Influence
ALSO READ: Greg Weisman On Showing New Sides Of Selina Kyle And His Love Of DC
 

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