Maggie Q maintains flexibility


POSTED: Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A first encounter with Maggie Q can be difficult to reconcile. The glamorous physical beauty on an unbelievably trim, athletic frame can lead one to expect a remote, self-absorbed diva. But nothing could be farther from the truth. When the 30-year-old movie star begins talking, she sounds like the bright, down-to-earth Mililani girl she really is.

When asked about the modeling career she started in Hong Kong after leaving Hawaii at 18, she laughs. “;I don't consider doing bank commercials and toothpaste commercials modeling!”;

Maggie Q was in town for one day over the weekend to receive the Hawaii International Film Festival's Maverick Award for her work in movies in both Hollywood and Asia. The actress, who is half Vietnamese and half Caucasian and fluent in English and Mandarin, also came for the screening of her latest film, “;The Warrior and the Wolf,”; a period epic from Chinese director Zhuangzhuang Tian.

“;It's an emotionally complex piece from an important Chinese director,”; Maggie said during a press conference at the Halekulani on Saturday. “;Getting the call from him was a really big deal for me.”;

She described the movie as “;an unconventional love story that you're definitely going to have work for,”; a film that requires thought and consideration and full engagement to understand the director's intentions. “;As an actress, it really pushed me to tell a story through a physical relationship,”; she added. It also took her out of her comfort zone as no other film had before.

After building a successful career in Asia, Maggie moved to Los Angeles, where she has lived for almost five years. Along the way she has faced many challenges, including fighting the bizarre stereotype that forces her to prove to many people that she really is an American.

“;They want to pigeonhole you into genre-specific films,”; many of which have been gun-toting action roles in a resume that includes “;Mission Impossible III”; with Tom Cruise and “;Live Free or Die Hard”; with Bruce Willis. In addition, she faces the ongoing issue of looking not quite Asian enough or not quite Western enough, depending on filmmakers' expectations. But she's not about to let that slow her down.

“;If I walk into a room and people are thinking about my ethnicity and not about my acting, then I'm not doing my job right,”; she said.

Her propensity for sports has helped strengthen her resolve and fuel her film career.

Maggie Denise Quigley began as a competitive swimmer. At Mililani High School she continued swimming and also ran cross-country and track. When she arrived in Hong Kong, Jackie Chan's management company offered to train her as a fighter for martial arts films in Asia. “;But I couldn't even touch my toes!”; she said. “;I was a runner!”;

Seeking more flexibility and body knowledge, she gravitated toward yoga, which continues to keep her strong and flexible for a variety of roles. “;Your physicality will help you in every area of a film; you just need to be strong,”; she explained during a one-on-one conversation after the press conference. Indeed, her part in “;Warrior and the Wolf,”; which involved sequences of violence and sexual intimacy, proved rougher than many of her action roles, where she typically does 95 percent of her own stunts.

But the ability to adjust to a variety of situations and cultures is something she learned while growing up in Hawaii, a place where she discovered that “;gratitude is the key to everything,”; she said. “;Every day is a blessing.”;