The Protégé Star Maggie Q Talks Action, Training Under Jackie Chan

Much of Margaret Quigley's (known professionally as Maggie Q) career is defined within the action genre in film and television. While promoting her latest film, The Protégé, the actress spoke with NBC Asian America about how the film sets itself apart from her previous work and training under action star and martial artist Jackie Chan. She plays Anna, the world's most skilled contract killer raised by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) and trained in the family business. But when Moody – the man who was like a father to her and taught her everything she needs to know about trust and survival – is brutally killed, Anna vows revenge. As she becomes entangled with an enigmatic killer (Michael Keaton) whose attraction to her goes way beyond cat and mouse, their confrontation turns deadly, and the loose ends of a life spent killing will weave themselves even tighter.

The Protégé Star Maggie Q Talks Action, Training Under Jackie Chan
Maggie Q in The Protege (2021). Image courtesy of Lionsgate

"The most important part of an action movie is the character development, and that doesn't happen often," Q said. "Certainly not in this genre. Relationships and character arcs are always rushed through, and then we get to the action, and I feel like we did the opposite with this film." The Vietnamese American was a trained martial artist when she caught the eye of Chan, seeing potential in her. Early in her career, she was cast in some of Chan's films, including Rush Hour 2 (2001) and Around the World in 80 Days (2004).

Jackie Chan at the Los Angeles premiere of 'The LEGO Ninjago Movie' held at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, USA on September 16, 2017. Editorial credit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com
Jackie Chan at the Los Angeles premiere of 'The LEGO Ninjago Movie' held at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, USA, on September 16, 2017. Editorial credit: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com

"Observing him and the way he earned not only his career but his place at the table in Hollywood was very inspiring because he's such a unique individual," Q said. "There's no one like him, and I don't know that there ever will be. Obviously, he has unique skills. But in addition to that, he's the hardest-working man I know. For him, it's never really enough. He's always striving for excellence." The Nikita star also benefitted from the Hong Kong scene. "The bar was so high in the Hong Kong film industry because that's what they're known for," she explained. "They're like the Hollywood of Asia in their heyday. I think the key thing I got from that time in my life was the work ethic, and skills, but I also learned what it took to have a unique place that you carve out for yourself when you strive for that. [Chan] did, and it's really admirable."

Q was careful to keep her roles as diverse as she can as not to fall into typecasting and playing up to stereotypes. Three films that were released in 2020 were examples of that, with Saban Films' Death of Me and Sony's Fantasy Island as horror films and the comedy The Argument for Gravitas Ventures. "It's as important what you don't take as it is what you do," she said. "We can be responsible for perpetuating our own stereotypes if we give in to those things, so we have to make good choices and better choices. We just have to go into these rooms and show people what we have to offer, and that really truly becomes undeniable. We have to start saying no to things that we don't feel represent us properly, but go for things that they're not even considering us for, and that's where I've lived for the last 20 years." Martin Campbell's The Protégé comes to theaters on August 20.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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